Home Local News Richmond County Child Support office offers amnesty to parents subject to arrest

Richmond County Child Support office offers amnesty to parents subject to arrest

Employees of the Richmond County Child Support office observe Child Support Awareness Month, wearing T-shirts that read: Through the eyes of your child, you are are invincible.
William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — In an effort to collect payments and keep delinquent parents out of jail, the Richmond County Child Support office is offering an amnesty deal.

Those with an order for arrest for failing to show up in court for child support can be offered a court date for a $500 purge payment, according to Jennifer Allen, Child Support supervisor.

“If it was going to cost you $15,000 (bond) if you were arrested, we’re willing to not arrest you and let you come to court and pay $500,” she said. “We feel like this would be the best way to get money to the children.”

She said it was also the fastest, since some of those who have an OFA may be on the run.

According to Allen’s records, there are 220 orders for arrest for not showing up in court in Richmond County alone.

She said there are others with charges for failure to pay, but they have at least shown up in court.

The amnesty effort is being made in honor of Child Support Awareness Month.

Allen said letters were sent out last week to parents with an order for arrest across the state and region. Five have so far called, including two from South Carolina.

“We feel like we’re going to have a good turnout,” she said.

Richmond County Jail records show that three men were in jail Tuesday for non payment of child support.

Some argue that locking someone up for failure to pay child support is counter-productive, since an individual can’t work to earn money while they’re behind bars, plus the costs associated with an arrest.

Allen said that’s why her office is trying a different route.

The Richmond County Child Support office collects more than $6 million in payments each year, according to Allen. 

“That’s a large amount for a small county,” she said, adding that there’s a lot of outstanding arrears the office still needs to collect.


Allen gave the example of a case recently audited where they are still collecting arrears and the child is now 45 years old, with less than $1,000 left for the parent to pay out.

“You’re going to owe it till you pay it,” she said.

According to a proclamation recently signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, the state collected in excess of $700 million for 400,000 children in the last fiscal year.

“If we can bridge that gap and they’ll communicate with us, then we can get some support for these children who aren’t receiving (anything),” Allen said. “And school’s starting, so — there’s needs.”

The amnesty offer is valid through Sept. 30. For more information, contact the Child Support office at the Richmond County Department of Social Services, 125 Caroline St., Rockingham.