According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, parents who are delinquent on their child support payments in Georgia have reason to hope that they’ll see their children rather than the inside of a jail cell thanks to a new program instituted by courts in the state.
The reason for the change is the introduction of an innovative program in Georgia called parental accountability court. Thanks to the program, parents can avoid jail and instead chip away at their back child support.
Parental accountability courts have lately been popping up across the state. They are the product of a joint effort by Georgia’s Child Support Services department and local court systems and designed to offer an alternative to jail. Using resources that exist in the county the courts address specific problems of each person including unemployment, drug use, lack of transportation, etc. that prevent them from making regular child support payments.
“There’s a lot of guys sitting in jail before this program came and they were getting further and further behind,” Smith said of other fathers late with support payments. “If it weren’t for this program, I’d probably still be sitting in jail wondering how I was going to get out.”
In Georgia the problem is massive with a recent report from the Department of Human Services indicating that four out of every 10 parents required to pay child support are delinquent. In child-support cases, the parent that’s behind on the payments can wind up in jail for up to three months, costing the taxpayers $1,500 per month. Moreover, when they’re released they have the same problem as before, no job and no money to pay support with. As a result, many constantly circulate between jail and court with no problems being solved all the while.
Of the programs that have been started across the state there appears to be tremendous potential. In the Smith’s home of Hall County, the court’s first year of operation saw child support payments from non-custodial parents grow by $45,000. Simultaneously, the cost of incarcerating non-paying parents fell by $178,000 as the program helped people find work.
In recent years, Georgia has bettered itself in rankings of parents current with child support payments, moving from 47th to 28th in four years. “That’s a big jump,” said Ravae Graham, deputy director of Legislative Affairs and Communications for the Georgia Department of Human Services which oversees the parental accountability courts. The real problem is that most of the people who owe child support simply need jobs. Throwing them in jail when they don’t pay does nothing to solve the problem and that’s what Georgia appears to have recognized.
If you find yourself facing a divorce then you need the help of an experienced child support lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the difficult process.
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