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North Dakota child support amnesty attracts 307 people

Posted September 16

— A program that allows North Dakota parents who are behind on child support payments to catch up is encouraging a few of them to pay.

The Child Support Program of the North Dakota Department of Human Services says 307 people entered payment plans in June and July, the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2cwT0b9 ) reported. Eighty-seven percent of people who signed up for agreements in June made their second payment in July.

"It was time well spent to negotiate with more obligors and get them into payment plans," said Jim Fleming, director of the agency.

The program granted amnesty and returned suspended driver's licenses to anyone who set up a payment plan. For every $2 a person paid toward past-due support, the agency credited $1 toward accrued interest or money owed to the state.

The newspaper reported that 64 people took advantage of the match offered by the state and paid an average of $1,700 toward their debt.

Delinquent North Dakota parents owe a total of $259 million in child support. The reduction in past-due support through the amnesty program made only a tiny dent in that. Counting payments and the match, it added up to about $108,000.

The Department of Human Services contacted about 2,600 people who qualified for amnesty with suspended driver's licenses. Fleming said he would consider offering it again, hoping to attract larger participation. He said he believes many more people who owe money have the ability to pay.

The department is also planning to step up its efforts against those who didn't take advantage of the group. Fleming said court warrants may be issued.

"We've gotta do something to collect the arrears for those families," he said.

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