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Amnesty offered to deadbeat dads

(Published September 11, 2000)


Staff Writer

More than 1,200 parents who are wanted by D.C. authorities for longstanding non-payment of child support are being offered amnesty from arrest Sept. 11-15 if they voluntarily come forward to arrange payment of their outstanding debt.

"We want to send a strong message to parents: Take responsibility for your children. Contribute to your children’s lives. Do it now, while we’re ready to help," said D.C. Corporation Counsel Robert R. Rigsby.

The city’s five-day offer to quash arrest warrants for non-custodial parents who are in arrears in exchange for their cooperation is part of a multi-jurisdictional effort involving all 24 Maryland counties, three Northern Virginia counties and the District.

Individuals who want to take advantage of this amnesty program can go to any participating jurisdiction to seek details about the "Amnesty 2000" offer, said Philip L. Browning, director of the corporation counsel’s child support division..

"This is the first time such a program has been tried in D.C. and it’s a one-time opportunity to cooperate," Browning said.

The District mailed letters Sept. 6 to explain the amnesty program to 1,234 parents who owe a total of more than $6.7 million in delinquent child support. Under the program, parents who come forward may either pay their debt in full or make what Browning called "a good faith effort" by paying part of their debt and making arrangements to pay the remainder in the future.

In addition, Browning said the corporation counsel’s office will provide assistance during the amnesty week to help parents resolve problems – such as unemployment, substance abuse or visitation squabbles – that are preventing them from paying child support.

"After September 15th, all delinquent cases will be aggressively prosecuted and law enforcement officers will be instructed to intensify their efforts to make arrests," Browning wrote in the letter mailed to parents for whom bench warrants have been issued.

Individuals may participate in the amnesty program by reporting from Sept. 11-15 to the Child Support Division office on the fifth floor at 441 Fourth St. NW between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Participants are required to bring photo identification, proof of employment (if employed) and two recent pay stubs, and a "good faith payment" toward overdue child support. Questions about the program may be answered by calling (202) 724-1444, (202) 724-2369 or (202) 724-2131.

Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator