With approximately 2,000 open child support cases on the books of the Clay County Child Support Division, and an overwhelming number of them in arrears, these cases are not forgotten.
The Indiana Department of Family and Children's Services and the Child Support Division of the Prosecutors Office are ever vigilant in their mission.
Deputy Prosecutor Erik Allen explained that one of the main objectives of the CSD is to reinforce every child's right to have both parents meet their parental obligations re-gardless of their marital status. "Above all, we're here to do what is right for the children."
Doing what is right for the child is a common thread for every case handled by the CSD whether establishing a child's paternity, setting child support payments and assisting in modification of those payments as needed or enforcing collections of child support payments through the legal system.
"It is our mission to see that children receive what they are entitled," Child Support Administrator Denise Gilson said. "Our goal is to help them all."
But there are times when the process doesn't go smoothly.
Sometimes embittered non-custodial parents refuse to pay child support as a way of inflicting punishment upon the custodial parent and penalties have to be administered.
"That happens sometimes," Allen said, but the threat of penalties is usually enough to get the non-custodial parent's attention. "They soon see the importance of payments versus the penalties. However there is no hesitation by our office to impose penalties if needed."
But the recent surge of methamphetamine drug abuse in the county is causing new problems.
"A high percentage of the non-payment cases now seen in the system are because of drug-related behavior," Allen said, explaining that local meth addiction is causing some parent's priorities to switch from "taking care of their children, to getting more of the drug."
A one time fee of $25 is required to start child support efforts for families not receiving public assistance. No fee is charged to families receiving TANF, Medicaid and/or Hoosier Healthwise.
Be prepared to give accurate personal information when applying for these services to provide the best possible service per individual case. All information provided is kept strictly confidential.