For parents who have fallen so far behind on child support payments that a warrant has been issued for their arrest, the New Jersey Office of Child Support Services is extending a one-time opportunity to make things right.
Called “Do the Right Thing for Your Kids,” relief for non-paying parents is being offered in the form of a child support amnesty week, held from April 28-May 3. What does amnesty mean? During the week, indebted parents facing possible arrest can visit their local probation department and speak with a probation representative. Working with the representative, parents will be able to do one or more of the following:
– Make a child support payment,
– Set up a reasonable payment plan and commit to it,
– Discuss the potential discharge of an active child support warrant, and/or
– Discuss the potential of an order child support modification (change).
Parents who reach a payment plan agreement with authorities may have their arrest warrants discharged, while those who aren’t will be allowed to leave the premises without fear of arrest, reports NorthJersey.com.
If you need a way to wipe the slate clean, don’t put it off. Amnesty is a one-time occurrence that doesn’t come around too regularly, state officials. The last time amnesty was offered to parents facing potential jail time was in 2004.
“This is not an annual initiative because we don’t want people to presume that the opportunity will be available regularly,” Nicole Brossoie, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, which oversees the state’s child-support-collection efforts, told NorthJersey.com.
Why does New Jersey need an amnesty week? According to recent statistics, of the more than 400,000 New Jersey children who depend on child support, a majority (58 percent) of cases involve parents who are not meeting their support obligations. Amnesty is a way to give parents routinely falling behind in weekly and monthly payments a way to break the cycle.
As Alisha Griffith, assistant director of the Office of Child Support Services, said, “We look forward to seeing more parents providing financial, as well as emotional support to their children as a result of this program. Children need role models in their lives to grow into responsible adults. Amnesty week will allow parents to focus on their role in their children’s lives, rather than worrying about staying out of jail.”
For more information about amnesty week, contact the New Jersey Child Support Services at 877-NJKIDS1 (877-655-4371). If you behind on child support payments, or are trying to collect child support from a non-paying parent, we have further resources available:
NJ Child Support Enforcement and Recovery