Putting a face to deadbeat parents

More and more parents are not paying their child support, it's a problem across the nation including right here in Northern Michigan. Now a new program called Project Save Our Children is putting nationwide faces to the names of deadbeat parents.

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley says, "We look for the people who have outstanding warrants."

It's up to the sheriff's office to hunt down parents in their jurisdiction who are not paying their child support, an added task that takes up a lot of time. Deputies go door to door and it's not always easy.

If a parent owes a few hundred dollars than it is a civil warrant and police can not chase them if they run across state lines, but if they owe more than $5,000 and leave the state than it is a felony. The feds will get involved.

Sheriff Bensley says, "Some are difficult to find, they don't want to be found because they owe the court money."

The most recent statistics from 13th District Court show there were 473 warrants in Grand Traverse County for deadbeat parents, 290 warrants in Antrim County, and 143 in Leelanau County.

A new website run by the US Department of Health and Human Services is now helping with most severe cases, naming names, and providing details to track down deadbeats.

HHS Deputy Inspector General, Gerald Roy "You're talking about a willful intent to avoid paying for your children. For their livelihood, for providing the basics that they so deserve."

Sheriff Bensley says, "I think it could be helpful in that more people are going to know who has a warrant for their arrest. The more people that know, the more available that information is and could lead to more being caught."

A parent who fails to pay child support for longer than two years and owes more than $10,000 faces a hefty fine and two years in prison.