AZ Family story

by Chloe Nordquist
Posted on December 3, 2014 at 10:11 AM
Updated today at 10:11 AM

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PHOENIX — Accountability Court has been revamped to help litigants become more aware of the importance of paying unpaid child support.

Parents behind on their child support are receiving a helping hand instead of being put in jail.

“It’s not that these people don’t want to pay their child support,” Janet Barton, Accountability Courts Presiding Judge, said. “They just don’t know how to get the job or put themselves in a position where they can pay their child support.”

The program was revamped about a year and a half ago, and there are currently 350 people in the program who owe approximately $16 million.

Shawn Thomas, an Accountability Court litigant, was behind $8,000.

“I’m trying to be a good father and trying to be a good person in society,” Thomas said. “I have a new baby on the way too so it is really hard.”

The resources offered by the court helped him pay his debt and become financially stable enough to have another child.

St. Joseph the Worker is trying to help people like Thomas by providing computers to fix resumes, clothing for interviews, and ultimately, jobs.

“We all know that first impressions really matter and a lot of individuals we are serving down here have all kinds of casual clothing but you really need to look professional to job interviews,” Candace Sherwood, Director of Development for St. Joseph the Worker, said.

Their mobile unit is parked outside the Accountability Court every first Tuesday of the month.

In order to be released from the program, litigants are required to make payments on time for six months to a year.

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