Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith has arrested 17 Smith County parents who violated court orders requiring them to pay child support. Along with support from the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division (CSD), others assisting Sheriff Smith in the roundup effort include Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle, Arp Police Chief Craig Robinson, Troup Police Chief Pat Hendrix, Bullard Police Chief Gary Lewis, Lindale Police Chief Daniel Somes, Pct. 2 Constable Andy Dunklin, Pct. 3 Constable Jimmie Blackmon, and Pct. 5 Constable Kenneth Bibby. The effort focused on parents who were the subjects of arrest warrants because of their failure to pay child support.
“Caring for your children is the fundamental and moral responsibility of any parent,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “I commend everyone involved in holding accountable those who attempt to evade child support. Their efforts help ensure better care and better lives for Texas children.”
Today’s countywide sweep targeted parents who were wanted for contempt of court because of their failure to pay child support. After holding a 4:30 a.m. briefing, Sheriff Smith dispatched 11 teams of law enforcement officers to track down the noncompliant parents before they had the chance to leave their homes for the day. Child Support Division investigators aided the sheriff by providing logistical assistance and helping to locate missing parents.
“We wish parents would voluntarily follow court orders to provide for their children,” said CSD regional administrator Charles “Chip” Arnold. “However, when they do not, we collaborate with our law enforcement partners to hold parents accountable. This child support roundup will make a positive difference in the lives of children and East Texas families.”
The delinquent parents arrested in today’s initiative face up to six months in jail. In addition to today’s 17 arrests, 10 additional parents have been arrested since the beginning of the month, when roundup preparations began. Cash bonds that parents pay to get out of jail go to the custodial parents and children who are owed back child support.
Parents who have fallen behind on their child support payments – but are not yet subject to warrants for their arrest – should immediately contact the Attorney General’s Child Support Division at (800) 252-8014 to make payment arrangements.
Under state and federal law, the Office of the Attorney General can assist families who request child support services and must serve families who currently receive or have received public assistance. Services offered by the Child Support Division include locating absent parents; establishing paternity for children born to unmarried parents; establishing, enforcing and modifying child and medical support orders; and collecting and distributing child support payments.
Statewide, child support collected by the Attorney General’s Office exceeded $3.9 billion for the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31. Parents in Smith County paid $37.8 million of that amount.
The Attorney General’s Child Support Division is the most successful and cost-effective program in the nation. The division currently administers 1.5 million child support cases, serving 1.7 million children. The division collects $11.34 for every $1 spent to operate the program and collected $3.7 billion in child support in Federal FY 2014. The Child Support Division set a record by collecting more than $3.9 billion in child support for Texas children for the state fiscal year 2015 that ended Aug. 31.