SPECIAL REPORT:Chatham County Families Owed Thousands in Child Support

SPECIAL REPORT:Chatham County Families Owed Thousands in Child Support (Image 1)

 Men and women. Parents. Dozens of people in Chatham County who owes thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in child support.

Some of the 35% of parents who don’t pay.

But what about the other faces you can’t see, the kids and parents left behind, waiting for money that they are supposed to get, but never see?

Each year officers of the court knock on thousands of doors, looking for fathers and mothers who aren’t doing their part, and paying their child support.

“Unfortunately most of these guys know the system too well and they know how to avoid getting their name out there,” said Chief Investigator Robert Edenfield.

But many don’t get away so easily. Last year 411 violators were arrested on civil child support warrants.

Already this year another 152 put behind bars for not following a court order and paying what they owe.

“Its the kids at the end of the day who suffers,” explains Meg Heap, Chatham County District Attorney. “They don’t have food, they don’t have clothes. they need a place to sleep and lot of them we see are children that live below the poverty line. And that’s the worst thing in the world.”

“There’s been no financial help from her whatsoever.”

No financial help, and continued problems for one Effingham County couple.

“Its minimum wage based, so its not a whole lot but she won’t even give $20 to give any help.”

This couple didn’t want to be identified because they have a court date later this month.

While mom gets to see the girls every week, every year dad has to go in front of a judge to try and get some of the money she owes..

“Close to $4000. And each time we have to take her to court its around that. Usually each year we have to take her to court for a whole year of child support.”

“When we get a check it’s a treat and we try to make it last as long as possible because we don’t know when the next one is coming.”

That’s in addition to the $15,000 in lawyers fees just to get custody of the girls 5 years ago.

That’s why this month alone this father is working 7 days a week 12 hours a day, for his little girls.

“No money would ever change my mind about where i would want them to be.”

But if the girls’ mother doesn’t show up to court.. they know the next step.

“They are supposed to put an arrest warrant out for her.”
“How does that make you feel?”
“I don’t want to see it come to that. I don’t wish jail on anybody.”
“Being in Jail doesn’t solve anything because you aren’t going to get anything if she’s in there. You aren’t going to get anything if she’s out. Its kind of like a no win.”

No win, and no money. All this couple can do is hope it changes, and mom has a change of heart.

“Leave the other parent out of it don’t take it as a personal thing, but take it on as a financial responsibility to your children. We have a physical responsibility to them and a financial responsibility to them, and each is just as important.”

Chatham County DA Meg Heap echoes this couple sentiment, she doesn’t want to put anyone in jail, but that sometimes is the only way to get the money parents are owed.

Sadly it does work, more than $11 million has been collected this year alone by child support officers.
But dozens more remain on the loose, and child support officials need your help finding them.

Take a look at the offenders HERE:


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