For 6,000 parents in Mesa County a child support check is often times something they can't live without. But in the last year the number of people who haven't made those payments has increase more than 150 percent.
Carl Duffey used to have no problem paying his child support. "I used to run my own business, drywaller, I've done a lot of hard work." He says the last thing he wanted to do was to stop payments. "Everything I get I provide for my babies. I provide for my family. And that's what a man's supposed to do," says Duffey. But last year a neck injury got in the way.
Now he is unable to pay child support. "My doctor's orders state, right here clearly, 'to whom it may concern,' Carl Duffey is injured and currently unable to work," says Duffey.
While Duffey may not be able to work due to injury others are just plain out of work. In Mesa County the number of people who stopped paying child support drastically increased. Karen Martsolf with the Mesa County Department of Human Services says, "a 168 percent increase over last year's unemployment intercepts is staggering. And it certainly tells us that people are struggling in a difficult economy."
A struggle that has Duffey facing some serious consequences. "Now they are threatening to put me in jail over $2,345," says Duffey. Duffey says he believes he has filed all the right papers; they just haven't gotten through. Martsolf says anyone who lost their job or can't work anymore needs to turn in the required paper work immediately. "Or they can seek legal council and try to figure out what the best plan of action is," says Martsolf. Which Duffey says isn't so easy when you have no money. "For people like me who can't afford a lawyer where we supposed to go to know how to do our paperwork?"
Martsolf says anyone in Mesa County who can't pay their child support should immediately contact human services. Duffey pays child support through the Department of Human Services in Colorado Springs. Which leaves him sorting through mounds of paperwork and wondering what to do next.