Kenneth P. CotterSeal of the State of Indiana
St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney
10th Floor County-City Building
227 W. Jefferson Blvd.
South Bend, IN 46601

 

 
Press Release

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 1st, 2016


Contact:   Jessica McBrier
    Director, Media Relations
    235-9919

 

Child Support Exceeds Averages for Fiscal Year 2016, Launches Felony Nonsupport Initiative
 


St. Joseph County Indiana is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the State’s IV-D Child Support Program. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the Child Support Division’s accomplishments this year.


In fiscal year 2016, St. Joseph County, which is the fourth largest county in Indiana, collected $28,212,847.04 in Child Support while handling 15,061 cases.* The vast majority of that money went directly to households in our community.


Enforcement caseworkers collected 67.24% of all current child support due and collected from almost 80% of the delinquent non-custodial parents**. We collected more for our children than both the National and Indiana state average. Our paternity and support establishment units continue to perform above the state and national averages as well. I am proud to say that the work of those in our Child Support Division made us the highest performing large county in the State of Indiana.


We stage enforcement efforts, utilizing civil enforcement up to and including civil contempt. All of these efforts are geared toward ensuring that our children are taken care of according to law. For the most part, non-custodial parents have willingly provided for their children. However, when a non-custodial parent honestly has trouble meeting the obligation and seeks assistance in attempting to make child support payments, our Office provides referrals, assistance and outreach. When appropriate, we will proactively modify orders in an attempt to ensure that the support amounts ordered are fair to all parties under the child support guidelines. Our Office remains committed to assisting those non-custodial parents who want to support their children.


As part of our continued efforts to bring monetary support to the families in our community, child support employees worked on extra projects, reports, appointments and hearings in an additional push from July-September. Around 2,722 cases were included in these various additional actions, resulting in an additional $66,070.27 to families. Projects such as a vehicle lien amnesty and warrant amnesties allowed many non-custodial parents the ability to arrange a reduction in required payments for resolution of the lien or warrant. These additional actions resulted in some custodial parents getting their first full month of support for the year while others had their first payment in several years.


All of these enforcement actions were taken with an eye to obtaining meaningful support for families.


However, sometimes these civil actions are not enough. There are some cases where our Office has exhausted all of our civil remedies and the non-custodial parents continue to avoid their duty to support their children. These parents are able to pay their support, but have chosen to ignore their child. Those individuals have accumulated large arrears balances. They have refused our offers to work with them in getting back on track paying child support. These parents force the custodial parent to support the child without any assistance.


I consider that to be unacceptable. It is a crime not to support your children when able to do so.


We have therefore created a Felony Nonsupport Deputy Prosecuting Attorney position. This Deputy Prosecutor will focus solely on the crime of nonsupport of a child. When all collection attempts and offers for assistance have failed, felony nonsupport charges will be considered.


Since September of 2016, we have sent letters to 187 parents who preliminarily met these criteria. These parents had the ability to make their child support payments but have avoided their responsibility. In these letters, we advised them that we were considering felony charges because of their lack of responsibility and implored them to contact their caseworker immediately to work with our Office. We gave them one last chance to honor their legal obligations toward their children. If they ignore our efforts, we advised them that their case will be reviewed for felony charges.


Many parents responded to these letters. Of those who have taken this opportunity, we have begun working with them in order to help them support their children.


However, for those who have ignored this last ditch effort, we have reviewed our cases objectively and thoroughly to find those people who have the ability to support their children but ignored civil enforcement efforts, and continue to not support their children. As of November 1, 2016, we have filed 46 criminal cases against those who have had the ability to support their children, but have ignored them. We will continue to review and, when appropriate, file additional charges.


Children who are supported by both parents have a much better chance to flourish. To those parents who have chosen to support their children (either on their own or by working with our Office), I commend and thank you. Thank you for choosing to support your children. However, to those parents who have chosen to ignore their obligations to their children, please be aware that we are objectively reviewing cases for potential felony charges.


Finally, to any parent seeking more information about our office, I invite you to visit our website at www.stjoepros.org. Any custodial parent may use the efforts of this office in helping collect the support due your child. The State of Indiana has authorized us to waive any fee to ask for our assistance. This means any parent seeking the assistance of the Prosecutor’s Office may do so without having to pay the $25 fee previously required. You can also stop by the Office on the 6th floor of the County-City building, 227 W. Jefferson Blvd, South Bend, or contact us at 574-235-9786 for further information.


For 40 years, the State of Indiana and Indiana Prosecutors have attempted to ensure our Children are cared for through the work of the Child Support Program. Here in St. Joseph County, we will continue this legacy of support. Together, we can see that the next generation of children are better supported than the last and leave a lasting impact on the children of St. Joseph County.



* The Child Support Division of St. Joseph County reached the end of their fiscal year on September 30, 2016.


** Delinquent non-custodial parents paying at least one payment during the fiscal year.