Clearing bench warrants on parents owing support

Posted at 9:16 AM, Nov 18, 2015

Alexandria Oliver and her one-year-old daughter are owed child support, and the father isn't paying.

"He said, 'I won't pay. Put me in jail,'" Oliver said. She says he paid regularly for about two months, but now hasn't paid since May. He's so delinquent on the debt, there's a warrant out for his arrest.

"We got our court papers and he didn't show up to court and then I found out a few weeks later he was arrested for other things," Oliver said. Payment is so irregular that Oliver laughed when asked if she relies on it.

Eaton County Friend of the Court is trying to do something to change things for parents like Oliver. It's holding an Amnesty Day for parents who owe so much child support they have a bench warrant.

On December 1 from 1 to 3 p.m., parents can come to the Eaton County Courthouse in Charlotte, pay $150, update their address and employment information, and have the warrant cleared.

"The quid pro quo is that we're going to have their information and be able to work with them," Allen Schlossberg, director of the Eaton County Friend of the Court, said. "We want to encourage them to get employed, and show reasonable diligence to stay employed and pay their support obligation."

The program will give people who owe child support a clean slate of sorts, so they can start making payments without worrying about getting arrested. But it doesn't clear any of debt.

"This is once-in-a-lifetime, this is a great opportunity," Schlossberg said. "I know how bad it must be for these people that are driving around looking in their mirror, scared to go to any public event, being nervous and afraid [of being arrested]."

Schlossberg says if the program is successful, he would like to do more, maybe even as often as once every three months.

The money Friend of the Court collects will be like a child support payment and go directly to the family that is owed.