‘Pay or Keep’ little one help program being carried out after COVID-19 delay | Information
Parents in Pike County who have been sentenced by the court to pay child support and are in arrears with their payments or have not paid at all could soon be brought to justice.
Pike County Attorney Kevin Keene announced earlier this year the Pay or Stay program to address the issue of child benefit failure.
However, due to COVID-19 restrictions on civil court matters, proceedings have been delayed.
The restrictions have now been lifted and the cases were heard on June 1st.
“Based on the governor’s previous orders, the court was unable to use civil disregard to enforce maintenance obligations,” said Keene. “We had 72 on record in total, 35 in the morning session and 35 in the afternoon session with 2 others and I’m happy to say that 46 out of 72 either paid or agreed to pay.
“Well, the downside of that is we had 26 that weren’t shown and were issued for the bank warrants and they’re going to be visited by an assistant sheriff soon,” Keene said.
The goal is not to lock people up, but to collect the outstanding payments.
“The goal of this pay-or-stay program was never to lock anyone up,” explained Keene. “The program works pretty well as a ticker system for both us and the people who pay child support.
“We can check the cases to see how these people are paying, and on the plus side, the 46 that came in have either already paid or made arrangements to pay,” Keene said. “These people were set up for a review based on how long they paid and how stable the payments were.”
Keene said the ratings can be set for six weeks to six months.
According to Keene, people either have to pay, or at least set up a payment plan.
“People can go to my office to discuss making a plan,” Keene said. “The way the child benefit system is set up is really fair because it is income based. So if someone loses their job, or has just got a job, or has just been recalled to their old job because of COVID-19, we can work with you. “
Keene said when individuals are in such a situation they can call his office.
“If your circumstances change, you can come to my office and ask us to request an adjustment, or you can apply through a personal attorney yourself,” said Keene. “For example, if someone is disabled, we cannot lock someone who has SSI, security is built into this system.
“I am trying to ensure that we do everything in our power to raise child support to ensure that the children and custodial parent trying to raise these children receive the support and help they need,” said Keene.
Keen said two people who appeared in court on June 1 made no payments but showed up anyway.
“They declared themselves and one had actually set up an interview and the other had just started working and hadn’t gotten his first paycheck yet,” said Keene. “So of course we didn’t order contempt, but set up a review in six weeks and when they’ve made arrangements or started paying we’ll work with them.”
Keene said the main thing is that his office work with anyone who wants to work with them.
“I think the first day of the pay-or-stay program was a success, with 46 out of 72 paying now, and these were all accounts that were found not to pay or pay regularly,” said Keene. “We’ll have another routing slip in a week or two and hope that that routing slip will get lower over time.”
Keene said no one was forced to stay in the first act.
“The people who showed up either paid or made arrangements to start payments, and the people who didn’t show up in court,” Keene said. “That is why bench warrants were issued.”
Keene said anyone who needs more information or wants to set up a payment plan can contact his office. (606) 432-6250.
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