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North Carolina Deadbeat Parents Can Run, But They Can't Hide

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HILLSBOROUGH — Parents who owe child support in North Carolina are being tracked down through new technology. Friday, a federal judge visited Hillsborough and declared that deadbeat parents in the state can run, but they can no longer hide.

Devion Breeze was hauled into court Friday to explain why he had not paid child support in four years.

Bonnie Pettiford is raising all six of their children ages 2-to-9 alone.

"It has just been a big struggle, because I have had to come to court several times and get off of my job," Pettiford said. "When I'm off my job, I don't get paid for it. It's been off and on for years now."

Breeze said that he does not work much, and cannot afford the payments, and expects to go to jail this time.

Child support officers are using a new computer system to catch up to the 3000 delinquent parents in Orange county. The database reports the name of every person hired to a new job in North Carolina, the state can then take the payments out of the person's pay checks.

Judge David Ross, who heads the federal office for child support enforcement, visited Hillsborough Friday to praise the county case workers for tracking down parents who have not paid.

Judge Ross said that it is also important to re-establish a relationship between the parent and child.

"They later become parents at very early ages themselves, and they don't know how to deal with their children," Judge Ross said. "It is a continuing cycle. Part of what this is about is engaging fathers in the lives of their children."

State officials also announced a 28 percent increase in the number of fathers who have acknowledge paternity, and that is the first step toward collecting delinquent payments.