Exclusive: Chasing Child Support

There are startling numbers out of Shelby County Juvenile Court that reports that almost half of the $11.2 million due in monthly child support goes uncollected each month.

By law, if someone doesn't pay, a warrant is issued for their arrest. Finding fathers to make them pay isn't easy.

Action News 5 reporter Andrew Douglas requested the list of the top 50 people who owe the most child support money and have active warrants out for their arrest.

All of them owe huge sums for tens of thousands of dollars.

Chasing child support led to 46-year-old Dale Hutchcraft who owes almost $100,000. He insists he takes care of his daughter.

Hutchcraft claims he's an active father and supports his child but according to records he should be arrested for contempt of court.

Hutchcraft said that he doesn't have the money to pay, "If I had the money I would," he said.

As we knocked on more doors, it became increasingly clear most of the men seemed to know they had warrants and most weren't home.

One man was already locked up on other charges.

44-year-old William Brents of Collierville owes more than $152,000. We caught up with his teenage daughters who said Brents abandoned them eight years ago.

"He doesn't even deserve to talk to us," said 18-year-old Sarah Brents.

Sarah and Mary Beth Brents said they've struggled watching their mom work long hours at multiple jobs to support the two of them as a single mom.

Sarah added, "we even moved in with my grandpa for a while a long while just someone that would do something like that and not even care about you is just awful."

"To know that someone that you think someone doesn't love you enough to help you with your emotional problems and financial problems," said Mary Beth.

We also tracked down the house where William Brents has been living.

"Um, he's staying here," said Jean Barnes.

Barnes said she's the girlfriend of Brent's father and that his son is on vacation.

Brents daughters said they thought their father's absence was somehow thier fault.

"At first I kept thinking it was my fault, but he's missing out big time," said Sarah.

Mary Beth added, "we don't need you and we're stronger."

So, what's the solution?

Shelby County's director of child support at Juvenile Court said more staff is needed to go after parents. He said with more people, they can go after parents who don't pay.

If a parent is found in contempt and they can pay the support but refuse to do it-- then they could go to jail for weeks or even months at a time.

It's a tough battle for Shelby County Juvenile court and the children left behind.


to email Andrew Douglas.