In 2004, the Warren County Attorney's Office collected just under $3,785,000 in child support payments. Last year, it collected more than $6,775,000, making it one of the most successful divisions in the state!
What caused the turnaround? Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken says organization and dedication. "You really have to be personally invested," she says, "and you have to want to collect the child support. You have to want to make sure the court orders are followed. So I think that, I think definitely it's a personal investment and a personal interest in every case."
That, plus diligently marching through every step of the civil process to collect the money the parent owes. That includes garnishing wages; putting a lien on the parent's property, then selling it; intercepting their income tax refund, even attaching their bank account or social security disability payment.
But what if that still doesn't work? If all avenues of civil collection of child support fail, the state can pursue flagrant nonsupport charges. That moves the process from the County Attorney's office, to the Commonwealth Attorney's office, and allows prosecutors nationwide jurisdiction.
"We've brought people back that have intentionally failed to pay their child support from as far off as Washington state," says Warren Commonwealth Attorney Chris Cohron. "We will go anywhere in the United States and even internationally for parents that don't pay their child support."
"They'll flee the state. Many times those individuals will seek 'cash only' jobs to avoid wage garnishments. They will do everything they can to avoid the system. Thankfully with felony prosecution we can go after them nationwide."
"Nationwide!" agrees Milliken. "We will go after this parent nationwide to bring them back to Kentucky to answer for the crime, and it's a crime! You have to support your children!"
"I don't care if you're the mother or the father, you are going to support your child. If you do not have custody of your child, I am going to see to it in Warren County."
And if you don't pay, you're going to jail!"
"That is the last thing we want to do," Milliken says. "We do not want to criminally charge someone with not paying their child support because, and I hear this all the time, 'Well if I'm sitting in jail I can't pay.' If you're sitting in jail, I have given you every option available to pay your child support."
By pursuing criminal action against the deadbeat parents, Warren County has increased its collection rate by nearly 80%.
To report the whereabouts of any deadbeat parent, call the Warren County Attorney's Office at 270-783-0577, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.