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Child Support Laws Change as Arrearages Rise

A new law went into effect September 28, 2011 that reduces license suspensions for parents who fall behind on their child support payments. The new law provides that parents who pay at least half of their court-ordered child support will no longer face suspension of their driver’s or professional licenses. Another provision will allow parents to have prior suspensions for failing to pay child support removed from their driving record. Under the new law, county child-support enforcement agencies must look back 90 days to see if a parent has paid less than 50 percent of his child support obligation. If so, the agency sends a pre-suspension notice, giving the parent the opportunity to pay the deficiency. If the parent fails to pay, he or she faces driver’s license suspension. To reinstate the driver’s license, the parent must pay in full or report new employment.

These changes came as a result of the recommendations of a task force and are in conformity with a sentence-reform law that encourages judges to sentence non-payers to community service or probation instead of jail. There are 341 inmates in Ohio prisons for failure to pay child support according to the Ohio Department of Corrections.

The number of incarcerated parents is small compared to overall numbers of parents who have fell behind in their chidl support payments. The Dayton Daily News reported recently that half of Montgomery County’s 59,300 child support cases are in default. Neighboring counties, including Greene, Clark, Warren, Preble, and Miami have default rates ranging from 64 to 82 percent. Ohios overall child support default rate is 70 percent.

Neighboring counties have default rates ranging from 64 to 82 percent. Ohio’s child support default rate is 70 percent.  County and state officials blame the economy, high unemployment and parents’ inability to pay the amounts mandated by the courts for many of the defaults. Officials also cite difficulties establishing proper wage withholding processes with some parents’ employers.