New Program Linking Vehicle Registration to Child Support Sees Uptick in Payments

AUSTIN -- The Texas Attorney General's office has collected more than $160,000 in child support statewide since unveiling a program earlier this year that prevents parents who are behind on payments from renewing their vehicle registrations. December is the first month renewal requests can be denied, but since September, 7,209 parents have received a notice of their delinquency status that warns them to arrange a payment plan before their vehicle registration expires. Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said as of Nov. 30, 541 parents who received a notification have made payments across 635 child support cases. "The attorney general's office uses many tools to compel delinquent parents to pay child support," Janece Rolfe, a spokeswoman for the child support division in the attorney general's office, said in an email. "We are thankful that this one has resulted in more support paid for the benefit of our state's most precious resource: our children."While the state is celebrating the uptick in child support payments as a result of the program, some family law attorneys are skeptical the numbers justify using this enforcement mechanism in conjunction with existing efforts and are concerned parents can find ways around the requirement.In the past fiscal year, the attorney general's office has collected nearly $3.9 billion in child support, making Texas the state with the highest collection rates for the ninth consecutive year."When you compare $100,000 to $3-plus billion, that's kind of a drop in the bucket," said Michael Wysocki, a Dallas-based family law attorney. "Every drop in the bucket counts and every drop in the bucket is important, but what we need to be looking at is whether or not the statute will have a chilling effect on the lower-income parents' ability to continue to earn a living." In his experience with child support cases, Wysocki said parents behind on payments are not intentionally evading, but are struggling to make ends meet and can't afford to stay up to date on payments."I question whether or not the policy behind it was to make it even more difficult for a significant number of parents to catch up on their payments," Wysocki said. Rolfe said the motivation behind the program is to "obtain compliance with orders and get money to children," not deny parents their livelihood.  Continue reading...

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