Whether you haven’t always received the child support payments to which you’re entitled or you’ve fallen behind on payments yourself, you’re not alone–only about half of all divorced or separated parents have a formal child support order in place, and fewer than 70 percent of these payments are actually made on time.
However, a new program sponsored by the Texas Office of Attorney General is attempting to change the trend of unpaid child support. The Denial of Motor Vehicle Registration Renewal Program (DMVRR) has collected more than $1 million in delinquent child support since September 2016 by preventing the renewal of vehicle registrations to those who have had a delinquent child support obligation within the prior 6 months. It is important to know what you’re facing when child support issues arise, and the DMVRR will affect every Texas driver that has fallen behind on child support. Let’s take a look at what you can expect if you’ve missed a few child support payments yourself.
What Does the DMVRR Program Do?
For years, lawmakers and courts have struggled with the question of how best to (legally) enforce child support obligations. While courts have the power to hold a non-complying party in contempt for failing to abide by the court-ordered support obligation, incarcerating parents for failure to pay support has drawn criticism by those who say spending time in jail makes it even harder to hold down steady employment.
A recent legislative amendment now permits the office of the Attorney General (Texas Title IV-D agency, which handles Texas child support enforcement) to withhold vehicle registration renewals from those with delinquent child support obligations. An expired registration can subject drivers to hefty civil penalties if they’re pulled over, and the lack of a renewal sticker on a car windshield can provide enough probable cause for a traffic stop–even if the driver is otherwise obeying all traffic laws.
What License Renewal Options Are Available for Those with Delinquent Support Obligations?
Fortunately, this program doesn’t require those with delinquent child support obligations to make payment in full before they can renew their registrations; instead, you’ll be able to seek renewal immediately after entering into a payment plan with the IV-D department. As long as you adhere to this plan, even if it takes some time to get fully caught up, you won’t be restricted from renewing your auto registration.
You’ll also be provided with at least 90 days of notice that your ability to renew may be in danger, giving you plenty of time to come up with some extra funds or otherwise make arrangements to cover your support obligations. In some cases, it may be worthwhile to seek a modification of your support obligation going forward. While a child support modification judgement in your favor won’t erase your past due child support, a lower payment going forward can provide you with a bit of extra breathing room in your monthly budget.
Keep in mind that defaulting on any agreed upon payment plan can carry some stiff consequences, so if you find yourself unable to meet your obligations, you’ll want to notify the IV-D program coordinators as soon as possible and make alternative arrangements. Failing to communicate about your reasons for defaulting can only harm your case and make it that much harder to seek registration renewal in the future.
If you have found yourself in a situation where it is difficult to make your full child support obligation, and don’t want to find yourself driving illegally, contact the Law Offices of Frank E. Mann, P.C. for a free consultation. We can evaluate your case and help you find a realistic solution.