Berkeley County announces child-support amnesty program

Berkeley County parents with arrest warrants for falling behind on child-support payments will get a chance to get back on track without getting arrested.

The county announced an amnesty program Wednesday.

The program will be done in phases. Letters have been mailed to 150 parents with bench warrants. They can appear in family court in Moncks Corner Aug. 5 and get their cases back on regular payment schedules and the bench warrant dismissed, according to Clerk of Court Mary Brown.

More parents will be notified in later mailings. As of Wednesday, 1,417 Berkeley County parents were facing arrest for not making child-support payments, county spokesman Michael Mule said. The jail was holding 47 parents who had been arrested for not making payments.

The goals of this program are to clear outstanding bench warrants and get each individual’s case back on track,” Brown said in the announcement. “There are many payers with medical issues, job loss or other legitimate reasons for falling behind. This program will help the payers get on track and help the would-be recipients receive owed and needed money.”

If the parent does not show up, the arrest warrant will remain active.

The court hearings will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 5. Those who want a hearing must register in the clerk of court’s office before 2 p.m. that day to be included on the docket.

The county is working with the S.C. Department of Social Services’ Child Support Division. Representatives of the Father to Father Project also will be present for referrals.

The program was planned before Walter Scott was shot during a traffic stop in North Charleston, county spokesman Michael Mule said. Scott ran from an officer because he had arrest warrants for not making child-support payments, according to his family. The county program is not connected with the city of North Charleston.

The clerk’s office and family court are in judicial complex at 300 California Ave. Participants should arrive before 2 p.m. to register, according to the letter.

Questions can be directed to the clerk’s office at 723-3800.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.