Back in 2004, the state of New Jersey held “Child Support Amnesty Week,” a program designed to provide delinquent parents with warrants issued for their arrest with the opportunity to try to work out a repayment plan absent the threat of incarceration.
The program ultimately proved to be a great success, collecting more than $1 million in child support payments. However, this was the last time the state offered any kind of amnesty to delinquent parents.
In recent developments, the state has officially decided to bring back amnesty week from today through Friday as part of the “Do the Right Thing for Your Kids” program.
While some might question the need to bring back child support amnesty week after a decade, consider some of the following statistics from the state’s Department of Human Services:
- Over 400,000 children in New Jersey rely on child support payments, yet 58 percent of them have a non-custodial parent who is not meeting their mandated support obligations.
- There are currently over 12,500 active warrants across the state for failure to pay child support; Of these 12,500 active warrants, 8,000 involve cases where the support owed exceeds $10,000.
According to state officials, delinquent parents are encouraged to meet with an official at the county probation office, where they will make a payment, and attempt to establish a plan covering both outstanding support and future child support payments.
In the event, a parent is able to reach an acceptable payment plan, the arrest warrant may be discharged and/or driver’s license suspension lifted. However, if the parent is unable to reach an acceptable payment plan, they will not be detained by law enforcement officials.
It is worth noting that while state officials have called the need for an amnesty week “very timely and relevant,” they also cautioned that it will not become a regular occurrence.
“We don’t do an amnesty program every year, because we don’t want people to presume that the opportunity will be available regularly,” wrote the commissioner of the Department of Human Services. “We expect that parents will fulfill their obligation to support their children.”
It should be very interesting to see what the final figures are for amnesty week …
If you are behind on child support payments and would like to learn more about your options, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can explain your options and protect your rights.
Source: The Lehigh Valley Live, “New Jersey offers deadbeat parents a chance to avoid jail during Child Support Amnesty Week,” Matthew Bultman, April 28, 2014