PROSECUTOR DUSTIN HOUCHIN:  CHILD SUPPORT COLLECTIONS UP 11%

PROSECUTOR DUSTIN HOUCHIN:  CHILD SUPPORT COLLECTIONS UP 11%

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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. 

Washington County Prosecutor Dustin Houchin wants to educate and inform parents, guardians, grandparents, or other custodial parties in how to access child support services through his office.

Houchin says, “Many of these services are not widely known to the public and can be accessed through the prosecutor’s office without hiring an attorney.”  The services claims Houchin, are vital to those seeking help with locating non-custodial parents, establishing paternity, and medical or child support orders.

Prosecutor Houchin recently announced child support collections in our community have increased by 11%. In 2020, the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office collected and distributed over $2.6 million in child support to children and families in the community, 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 and national 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 Houchin.

Child support payments provide a court-approved method for helping to ensure children are supported financially when their parents divorce. These 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 and not only cover necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter but also may be used for educational expenses and extracurricular activities, such as sports or hobbies.

According to Houchin, “Regular child support can mean the difference for a child to remain in their home and have food, clothing, and other needs met. It impacts everything we do in our office,” said Houchin, explaining that as paternity and child support is established, it leads to fewer children living in poverty and lowers the likelihood they will one day become involved in the criminal justice system.”

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.

Houchin stressed his child support staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to assist. “There is really nothing to be afraid of; you’re taking action to best serve your children and protect your rights. It’s an easy process and we 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, Houchin encourages any non-custodial parent who has fallen behind in paying child support to contact the office. “Most cases are not contentious,” said Houchin. “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. 

“Financially supporting our children is crucial to their well-being and their ability to thrive during the critical years of childhood,” said Houchin. “My office continues to work diligently to ensure that parents provide that financial security for their children.” 

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 take effect in January of 2022, Prosecutor Houchin 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 Washington County Prosecutor’s Office at 806 Martinsburg Road #202 in Salem.  You can also call our Child Support Office at (812) 883-6569 or visit https://Washingtoncounty.in.gov