HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Child support is something many parents depend on to help raise their children. Unfortunately, thousands of kids in Horry County aren't getting the help they need. WMBF News's Theo Hayes took a closer look at who is wanted and what help is available.
There are over 22,000 people wanted by the Horry County Sheriff's Office, and a large number of them are wanted for failure to pay child support. It may not seem like a crime to some, but when a parent doesn't pay, it's the child that ends up suffering.
"That $200 or $300 payment could end up being their groceries for the week," said Sgt. Jeff Benton with the Horry County Sheriff's Office.
Failure to pay child support makes up about 15 percent of all the wanted cases the sheriff's office is working on.
Three people wanted for that crime are this week's "Horry County's Most Wanted" featured suspects: 29-year-old Donnie Barrett of Conway, 26-year-old Christopher Todd of Conway, and 36-year-old Cocese Ferris of Loris.
Once someone falls behind by $100 or five days, family court can send them a notice to appear in court to explain why they haven't paid. If they don't show up for court, a warrant will be issued.
"Bottom line is this is a court order, and when family court orders someone to do something and you willfully violate it, you become in contempt of that court," said family law attorney Steve Fowler.
But sending someone to jail isn't always helpful for parents in need of monetary support. Other enforcement options include wage garnishment, or driver's license revocation. Every case is different, so lawyers say it's best to be proactive.
"If you are the custodial parent, it's really your responsibility to make sure and follow up that the non-custodial parent is paying what they are obligated to pay," Fowler said.
You should start by contacting D.S.S., Fowler said. It might take some time, but the law is on your side and authorities say they'll pursue every case that comes their way.
"The person that's owed $400 is just as important to us as the person that's owed $4,000," Sgt. Benton said.
If you've seen tonight's suspects or know where they may be, contact authorities and remember no tip is too small. For a look at who else is wanted visit our Horry County's Most Wanted page here:
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