Crime & Courts

Lexington targets $1.6 million in late child support

Lexington County officials have made a new dent in overdue child support.

A seven-week crackdown led to the roundup of a record 131 parents who owe a combined $1.6 million, officials said Tuesday.

Amounts due individually are as high as $76,000, with 61 of those charged owing at least $10,000 each, officials said.

It was the fourth straight year deputies and court staff joined forces to detect parents delinquent in court-ordered payments.

Their focus is on finding parents with large amounts due who habitually evade payments. Parents are arrested on warrants - meaning some turn themselves in. But they can make immediate arrangements to catch up on what they owe and nullify the warrant.

Overall, 4,170 parents in the county owe $33.2 million in support for their children, officials said.

The collection effort on behalf of Lexington County children "sends a very strong message" that nonpayment won't be tolerated, Sheriff James Metts said.

Deputies focused on delinquent parents who live in the Midlands in rounding up those with unpaid support between Nov. 1 and Dec. 18. Deputies could, legally, go anywhere.

Another 301 parents are being sought, mainly those ignoring repeated court orders to pay.

The crackdown is aimed at ensuring that parents with custody of children have enough money for proper care and a holiday celebration, clerk of court Beth Carriggsaid.

Todd Kaminer of Chapin was among parents whose child will benefit from the latest crackdown.

Receiving $2,400 owed was a welcome surprise, he said.

"Any time we get something, it's like Christmas, so this is wonderful," he said Tuesday.

Kaminer said he didn't ask for his former spouse to be targeted but said he now is "a big fan" of the crackdown.

Overall, the sweeps have brought in $5 million in delinquent payments since they started in 2006, officials said.

Anger at former spouses has more to do with nonpayment than the tough economy, Metts said.

"There's resentment that unfortunately carries over to the children."