Prosecutor explains child support services, collections

 

Press release from prosecutor’s office

The month of August is dedicated to bringing awareness to child support services in Indiana. Many residents are not aware they can contact their local prosecutor for assistance with enforcing child support orders.

LaPorte County Prosecutor John Lake wants to educate and inform parents, guardians, grandparents and other custodial parties in how to access child support services through his office.

Child support services can help custodial parents establish child support orders, paternity and other resources that promote the well-being of children. Lake says, “Many of these services are not widely known to the public and can be accessed through our office for free, without hiring a private attorney.”

Lake recently announced child support collections in our community have increased by 11.2%. In 2020, the LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office collected and distributed over $10.6 million in child support to children and families, a significant increase from the 2019 total. As of July of this year, collections are already on track to exceed the 2020 totals and the prosecutor’s child support office is performing above state averages in all measured categories.

“We have certainly seen a COVID-19 related increase in our collections due to federal stimulus payments that are intercepted and delivered directly to children and families under a child support order, but we have also placed an emphasis on increasing our collections,” said Lake.

Child support payments are crucial to a child’s well-being and provide a court-approved method for helping to ensure children are supported financially when their parents divorce. Child support payments are intended to help the custodial parent maintain a similar quality of life for a child as he or she enjoyed before the divorce.

These payments not only cover basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter but also may be used for educational expenses and extracurricular activities, such as sports or hobbies.

In Indiana, child support payments continue until the child reaches age 19 or is emancipated in another way.

Judges use child support guidelines to determine the amount of child support payments. Non-custodial parents must make their court-ordered payments or face wage garnishment, being found in contempt of court and even jail time.

“As your county prosecutor, I take the well-being of our children seriously, and believe that consistent child support payments can help custodial parents achieve economic stability. In addition, having paternity and child support established leads to fewer children in poverty and lowers the likelihood they will one day become involved it the criminal justice system,” he said.

Lake stressed his child support staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to assist. “There is nothing to be afraid of; you’re taking action to best serve your children and protect your rights. It’s an easy process and my staff will keep you informed every step of the way.”

Alternatively, there are consequences for parents who fall behind or fail to pay their child support. Parents who fail to pay support can be charged with a felony, however, Lake encourages any non-custodial parent who has fallen behind in paying child support to contact the office. “When people who owe acknowledge that, we play the role of facilitator. However, those who continue to fall behind can expect the prosecutor to be aggressive in seeking support payments for families,” said Lake.

Recently, the Indiana General Assembly enacted new legislation that allows for the immediate reinstatement of driver’s licenses, hunting licenses, and other licenses once a delinquent parent pays 8 weeks of support. Though this law will not take effect until January of 2022, Lake encourages parents to get current and will work with anyone to reinstate licenses when they get caught up on support payments before the new law begins.

There is no fee to access child support enforcement services offered through the prosecutor’s office.

For more information, stop by the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office at 300 Washington St., Suite 10, Michigan City, or call (219) 874-5611, ext. 7820.

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