Starting this fall, child support division of the Attorney General’s office is launching a new strategy to make some parents think twice about skipping out on child support: if you get behind in child support payments, you might not be allowed to register your car.
Janece Rolfe, from the Attorney General’s child support division, says the law allows non-renewal of professional and recreational licenses.
“This is not a new concept,” she says, “but it is a new aspect to existing law.”
Renewal notices will go out in September will alert parents who are behind six months or more in payments that their registration will not be renewed.
“We in Texas are very aggressive about enforcement,” she says. “We’re going to use every tool that we can to get money to children, because children need this money for their basic needs.”
Rolfe says Texas collects more money for children than any other state. Some have said that parents behind on child support may not be concerned by having a car without updated registration.
“What we do find is that parents faced with the likelihood of losing a license or a registration, they call us and they begin to make payments,” she says. “That’s what we want to happen – it’s not our goal to deny someone their transportation or of their livelihood.”
They work with families to put repayment plans in place, Rolfe says, and the division takes a “holistic” approach to repayment.
“We recognize that some non-custodial parents are simply down on their luck,” she says.
Rolfe says the division started a program in 2005 that brings in the Texas Workforce Commission and local courts to help parents get stable employment and pay child support. One case Rolfe worked on gave one mother some back child support, which the mother said she was going to use to buy her daughter new shoes because she had been ridiculed at school.
“Many of us don’t think of situations being so financially bleak,” she says, “but these are the families we work with and these are the families we help.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.