Amnesty Day draws 26 parents who owe child support
In exchange for $350, a judge recalled arrest orders for 26 non-custodial parents who owed child support at Durham County Social Services’ Amnesty Day last week, according to a department official.
The parents will still be required to pay the debt that they owe. But Geri Nettles, assistant county attorney, said the day allowed the parents to avoid jail time, as well as to collect some money for families in time for the holidays.
The day only applied to non-custodial parents who had an order issued for their arrest as a result of not paying child support.
The order could have been issued if the parent did not comply with a court order related to their payment, or did not show up for a court appearance.
There were 329 cases of parents who owed child support, with some of those cases involving the same non-custodial parent.
There were past-due amounts owed by parents of $1,000, $16,111.49, more than $75,000 and on parent who owed more than $119,000.
“Unfortunately, a lot of those people I recognize,” District Court Judge Doretta Walker said of parents who came to Amnesty Day on Thursday.
Walker said the day doesn’t allow non-custodial parents to get out of making their required child support payments and their debt.
“This is just so they don’t have the police looking for them,” she said.
She added that if a parent is not able to pay, the court can’t hold that parent in contempt. Some parents need that push to start looking for a job. It can be hard for some to find a job, “but it’s not impossible,” she said.
There are some non-custodial parents who don’t pay until they are threatened with jail time, she said.
“The ones that end up in jail – despite having the ability to pay, don’t pay,” she said.