Durham County amnesty day allows parents to pay portion of owed child support to avoid jail

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Hundreds of parents in Durham County are behind on paying child support and are at risk of getting arrested and sent to jail.

But on Wednesday, the Durham County Child Support Division held Amnesty Day at the Durham County Courthouse.

This allowed non-custodial parents to come to courtroom 5B and pay a minimum bond fee of $500 for each child support case.

“This gives them an opportunity to get rid of that order and to begin anew paying their current child support,” said Quannah Jackson-Brown, program manager for Durham County Child Support Services.

As long as the minimum bond fee of $500 was paid, then they could have their record reset and not be sent to jail.

CBS 17 spoke with one non-custodial parent was there to pay on two of his child support cases. He did not want to show his face on camera, but he said he owes $1,500 in child support for his two daughters and he’s been behind in those payments for years.

“Back in 2016, I slipped and fell. I got injured and it put me out of work,” he said.

He said there has been a warrant out for his arrest for some time now.

But instead of going to jail, he was able to pay $500 for each child support case.

“It’s giving me a chance now because now I can get back in my daughters’ lives now and I don’t feel threatened about going to jail,” he said.

Jackson-Brown said just because their records have been reset, these non-custodial parents still owe everything they owed before in child support.

“The $500 would first satisfy whatever their current support amount is, and whatever excess would go to decrease the arrears,” Jackson-Brown said.

Jackson-Brown said the whole idea is to keep parents out of jail so they can continue to work and be close to their children.

“We want parents around for their children,” she said. “We know that children fare better with both of their parents around and as part of their lives.”

Jackson-Brown said on Wednesday they had collected $9,950 in amnesty payments.

Nonprofit organizations in the Raleigh-Durham area said this is a great way to get much-needed money to the families and to keep parents from having to go to jail.

“By not sending people to jail, you are adding one more protective factor into that child’s life and you are giving them an opportunity to try and meet that obligation,” said Rachel Galanter, executive director of Exchange Family Center in Durham.

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