Collecting child support in Georgia and elsewhere can seem like a full
time job for many parents waiting for a check from their children's
other parent. The law does provide means to collect delinquent support,
including garnishment of wages and attachment of assets levied against
Social Security payments may also be docked, and past due child support
payments are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Moreover, states cooperate
with one another through the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support
Act. Yet, still thousands of cases of unpaid child support remain.
In Opelika, the Lee County Sheriff's Office (LHSO) just took child
support enforcement measures to a new level. With an "A" for
creativity, the office targeted suspects owing a combined total of more
than $270,000 in back support.
Dubbed "Iron Snare," the LHSO mailed announcements on letterhead
of a fake organization dubbed the "Charter Club of Lee County."
Recipients were told they had won tickets to the 2011 Iron Bowl, the annual
football game between Auburn and Alabama. Addresses were obtained from
arrest warrants issued for unpaid child support.
A big party was planned for July 29 on Second Avenue in Opelika, complete
with videotaped highlights of the 2010 Iron Bowl. Balloons, streamers
and music completed the ruse. Winners were told they had to bring a copy
of the letter plus a photo ID to claim their tickets. Instead, they were
arrested. One man asked if he still got the tickets (sorry, pal).
Once arrested, suspected were taken to the Lee County Detention Center
to await bail hearings. Those arrested each owed child support totaling
anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000. The sheriff said the intent of Iron
Snare was to impress on those owing child support their need to take some
responsibility. Failing that, the LHSO intends to help matters along.
While the ruse appears to have met some success, child support is no laughing
matter. It is intended to contribute to the expenses necessary to raise
a child, for which the suspect has responsibility. Those owed child support
at times find the system outdated and slow to react. A Georgia attorney
experienced in child support matters and family law issues may offer some
understanding and assistance to those seeking monies owed for their children's expenses.