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Thursday, June 4, 2009

County begins new crack down on delinquent child support payments

CASS COUNTY — It's a problem that's plagued single parents for years, but with the economy sinking, payments are shrinking. Cass County's court system has a new message for parents who refuse to pay child support: pay up or pay the price.

Parents who don't pay their child support got a harsh warning Tuesday in the form of a letter from Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz.
It reads simply: "The Cass County Friend of the Court has submitted a warrant request for criminal prosecution due to your non-compliance in paying child support...I have determined there may be sufficient facts to prosecute you."
It came as a breath of fresh air to one Cass County woman. She's asked WSBT to hide her identity because of a pending court case, but that didn't stop "Jessica" from telling her story, rich with the financial struggles of a single mother over the past five years.
"It has been difficult," she said "My daughter is 8 and my son is 10, and it's hard when you're trying to feed them and pay the bills and that money's not coming in."
That lack of money isn't because she has lost her job, her house or her car.
Instead, she's lost opportunity for her children because the child support payments she depends on for their well-being have been, in her word, "sporadic."
"It usually will come in for a few months here or there, when he's working and I am getting the income. But then we'll take long breaks without it where I don't get any money. It's hard for the kids to understand that they can't do everything they want to because you're not getting that money," she said.
It's not just "treats" that suffer the consequences in the absence of a check.
"They may not get to play the sports. They may not get to go to the movies or do those fun things that kids do. Because you have to pay the bills first, and then you do the extras," she said.

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