Campbell County Assistant Attorney Works to Help Kids, Parents
Out of about 400 child support attorneys in Kentucky, Campbell County Attorney Steve Franzen now has proof, he has “the best.”
Campbell County assistant attorney Michelle Eviston was recently chosen to receive the John R. Fendley Child Support Attorney of the Year award by the state.
“This means a great deal, not just to me, although I’m very proud of her work,” Franzen said. “However, this means a great deal for the people of Campbell County. They have the No. 1 child support attorney.”
Eviston said she was surprised when she was given the award. Franzen and staff members kept it quiet. To trick her into going to Frankfort to be presented the award, they told her that the office had been called upon to visit the Capitol to present on their child support collections process.
“I am honored,” Eviston said. “It’s rewarding to know that what I’m doing is giving back to the community and helping a child get what he or she needs to survive and hopefully even become better connected to their parent.”
Franzen said the child support office where Eviston oversees child support collection, is an important office, not only for children and their custodial parents, but also all tax payers.
“If we don’t assist in the collection of child support, then tax payers are left to pay for these children’s medical care, food and housing through different social safety net features. When we are aggressive in collecting, everybody benefits. People – in most cases men – are held accountable for the child they have created.”
Franzen estimates that the office collects about $9 million a year and said two-thirds of that is a result of Eviston’s legal work.
In January 2011, Franzen’s office took over child support collections. At that time, Campbell County ranked 69 out of 120 Kentucky counties in child support collections. They are ranked 39 as of January 2019. He credits Eviston for the leap of improvement. She took lead of the office in December 2015 and reorganized the approach from individuals undertaking individual cases to a team effort on each case.
The office takes on about 5,000 open cases a year. Franzen said it’s typically 50:50 when it comes to those who pay their child support versus those who avoid doing so. The office typically sees about 70 to 80 cases weekly going to family court.
It’s a small operation, Eviston and a staff of about 14, but they’re making incredible strides. She said she is proud of the staff and the work they accomplish as a team.
“Our success in improving our ranking and our overall collection ratios has certainly been a group effort,” she said. “Our caseworkers put in an immense amount of time working the cases before a case is added to our court docket.”
Eviston, who graduated from Chase Law School in 2011 said she’s always been “drawn” to law work.
“I enjoy working in a public interest field and love being able to help others and giveback to the community,” she said. “It is so important to help provide a child’s basic needs. That’s what we’re doing everyday.”
Written by Melissa Reinert, RCN Contributor
Photo: Michelle Eviston