County legal professional taking aggressive motion to gather little one assist, ‘Pay or Keep’ docket a part of effort | Information

Finding parents who are not paying court-ordered child support has been a priority for the Pike County Attorney’s Office.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced new District Attorney Kevin Keene to suspend a program designed to help increase collection. Now, Keene said, the office will be pushing ahead with the new program called the Pay or Stay document.

“The payroll or residence log helps us identify parents who have defaulted on child support,” Keene said. “When I took office, one of my top priorities was to increase the collections for child support.

“These custody families need this money to support their children,” Keene said. “Due to Supreme Court orders regarding detention during COVID, non-violent offenders, including child livelihood contempt orders, cannot be detained.”

“Because of this, we lost the teeth of our child support cases for a period of time,” said Keene.

Keene stated that despite the restriction on detentions, collections actually increased.

“Collections are up 5 percent over the past year,” said Keene. “We have been more aggressive in collecting repayments and are starting to see the fruits of it.”

Keene said in order to get a bigger share of this child benefit, people need to know that there will be penalties for failing to pay court-ordered child benefit.

“What we started with the help of Judge Kent Varney, we have a special protocol for child support cases,” said Keene. “We held 95 hearings on February 9, we held 65 hearings on February 23, and we have 97 hearings scheduled for February 26.

“In these hearings, we find out if people are paying their child support, and if so, we’ll set them up for a review in September so we don’t get left behind,” said Keene. “But for the people who have warrants of contempt and have either lagged behind in the past or failed their monthly commitment, we put them on our payroll or residency records.”

Keene explained that the payroll or residency document is just that. The person will come in and show that they are paying their court ordered child support or they will be locked up.

“Those who fail to pay will be held on charges of civil contempt,” Keene said. “In Kentucky, if you are under civil contempt, you can actually be incarcerated for 180 days.”

Due to the current COVID restrictions, individuals charged with civil contempt cannot currently be detained. However, Keene said this was a warning.

“Basically, February is going to give people a fair warning that you have to be by June to make up on your commitment,” Keene said. “If the person does that, great. We will work with them and provide them with a payment plan and support them in this.

“But if you don’t, there will be penalties if you don’t pay,” Keene said. “Hopefully people will know they have to get in here and start doing what they have to do.”

Keene said the first pay slip or residency slip was set for June 1.

“We already have 70 employees as of June 1st,” said Keene. “These are people who are actively charged with contempt.”

Keene said his office is currently setting up the second salary or residency document for June 8th.

“We will keep working to fill this document,” said Keene. “But I suspect that after a few salary or residency documents, people will realize that they are paying fines for it and that they will start paying a little more freely.”

Keene said there are other things they want to do, like withdraw their driver’s license.

“We can take their driver’s license for people six months ago,” said Keene. “We’ve had quite a few people getting notifications in the mail and they called us and asked what they had to do to keep their driver’s license and they came in and paid.”

Keene said his office is ready to help anyone who is behind with child support payments. All the person has to do is call the Pike County Attorney at (606) 432-6250.

Comments are closed.