10 parents arrested in roundup

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Released by the Texas Attorney General's Office:

TYLER, TX – Smith County Sheriff J. B. Smith today arrested 10 Smith County parents who violated court orders requiring them to pay child support. The countywide sweep was conducted in conjunction with the Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division. Today's effort focused on parents who are wanted by authorities for failing to pay their court-ordered child support.

In addition to the Smith County Sheriff's Office, the Smith County Adult Probation Department; the Tyler Police Department; the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission; and Smith County constables representing precincts two, four and five participated in the countywide effort. Child Support Division investigators aided Sheriff Smith by providing logistical assistance to locate missing parents.

"Parents have a moral and legal obligation to make regular child support payments," Attorney General Abbott said. "By collecting child support, we are ensuring young Texans have the resources they need to grow healthy and strong. We are grateful to Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith; Smith County Adult Probation Director Gerald Hayden, Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Pct. 2 Constable Andy Dunklin, Pct. 4 Constable John Smith and Pct. 5 Constable Dennis Taylor for their dedication to Texas children."

Sheriff Smith kicked off the operation this morning at 5 a.m. when seven arrest teams began tracking down parents who are wanted for contempt of court as a result of their failure to pay child support. The effort resulted in the arrest of 10 parents whose failure to support their children violated the law.

Delinquent parents arrested on civil warrants face up to six months in jail. Cash bonds posted by delinquent parents seeking release from jail are paid to the custodial parents and children who are owed back child support.

Parents who have outstanding warrants can avoid the embarrassment of arrest at their home or work by reporting to the Smith County Jail located at 206 East Elm. Texans who have fallen behind on their child support payments – but are not subject to warrants for their arrest – should immediately contact the Attorney General's Child Support Division at (800) 252-8014 to make payment arrangements.

Under state and federal law, the Office of the Attorney General can assist families who request child support services and must serve families who currently receive or have received public assistance. Services offered by the Child Support Division include locating absent parents; establishing paternity for children born to unmarried parents; establishing, enforcing, and modifying child and medical support orders; and collecting and distributing child support payments.

Statewide, child support collected by the Office of the Attorney General exceeded $2.78 billion for the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2009. The Attorney General's Smith County child support office collected $43 million of that amount.