Law Office of Ellen Dixius

Child support lapses reduced by threatening driving privileges

In 2016, Texas got so fed up with parents skimping on child support that the state decided to get creative. Texas decided to threaten one thing most adults hold dear to them: the ability to drive legally. According to ABC, parents who were more than six months behind on child support payments were not allowed to renew their vehicle registration.

For people who are familiar with Texas’ commitment to collecting child support payments, this may come as no surprise. The state has collected more than $3.8 billion in child support payments. No state has collected as much. To continue this trend through the new laws, the motor vehicle department began sending out notifications that September to inform payments of the need to catch up on child support before renewing their vehicle registration. They could then make payment arrangements.

Needless to say, there were many people who spoke out against Texas’ decision. One El Paso attorney voiced his opinion that hindering people’s mobility was wrong. He saw this is a way to punish poor people who may truly be unable to pay their child support bill. Instead of applying the law universally to all people who lapse on payments, he believes that judges should decide whether or not lapses on child support payments are intentional.

According to another ABC news article, by 2017 Texas was already reaping the rewards as child support payments increased. Texas shared that after the first notices were sent, 95 parents stepped up to the plate. The state received $77,000 in child support payments from them in 108 cases. Not only does this indicate that some parents may have multiple outstanding child support payments, but the lapses were avoidable with the right motivational factor.

Texas’ solution is as ingenious as it is potential dangerous. Without a doubt, there are parents who are genuinely unable to pay, who may now find themselves in greater need. But, as the state has pointed out, what about the needs of their children? What is most sad in these cases was that driving a car spurred more parents to action than the idea of their children lacking the resources they needed.

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