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Indiana County out of Patience with Habitual Child Support Offenders

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In St. Joseph County, Indiana, prosecutors have become increasingly frustrated with deadbeat parents who refuse to pay child support despite being financially able to do so. Dozens in St. Joseph Co. face prison time for unpaid child support, by Mark Peterson,, October 31, 2016. For this reason, the most egregious child support contempt cases are being heard in criminal court, rather than civil court. According to Prosecutor Ken Cotter, they are not looking to file criminal cases where the parent is unable to work but, rather, "file those cases on the individuals who have the ability to support their child and they have made a conscious choice not to." In the past, the prosecutors have only sought criminal charges if requested by the custodial parent. However, because deadbeat parents have become such a large problem in the county, prosecutors are filing criminal charges without the need for a formal request in an attempt to get the problem under control. Prosecutor Cotter said that when these parents get into court, he will absolutely be asking for jail time in a last attempt to get support for the child at issue.

In Georgia, imprisonment for non-payment of child support is also an option. When a parent willfully refuses pay child support according to an Order (meaning he/she has the ability to pay but refuses to do so), he/she can be found in contempt. According to Georgia law, "[w]hen a person who is gainfully employed violates an order of the court granting temporary or permanent alimony or child support and the judge finds the person in contempt of court, the sentencing judge may sentence the respondent to a term of confinement in a diversion center and participation in a diversion program if such a program has been established by a county pursuant to the provisions of Article 5 of Chapter 3 or Title 42." O.C.G.A. §15-1-4(c). It should be noted that, while Georgia courts have this option, most of the time they will only use it for the most egregious circumstances like the Indiana courts discussed above. In other circumstances, they are more likely to garnish wages, revoke a license, or even work with the respondent to come up with a payment plan.


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