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Changes to Ohio dead-beat driver law make sense

October 1, 2011
Salem News

Dead-beat parents have been ignoring their responsibility to pay child support for years.

Ohio thought it was a good idea to hang the threat of suspending a driver's license or professional license over the heads of parents who wouldn't or couldn't make child support payments.

But taking away a driver's license or professional license almost guarantees the child support won't be paid. Getting to work is difficult without the ability to drive or the opportunity to work in a profession.

As the law stood, a parent could lose his or her driver's license if the child support payments fell more than a month in arrears.

A new law that took effect last month allows a parent owing child support to keep his or her driver's license if half of the ordered support is being paid. It also forces the state to wait to suspend a driver's license until the account is past 90 days and if more than half of the ordered amount is owed. The state then must send a pre-suspension notice to give the parent owing the child support a chance to pay.

Most parents take responsibility for their children after a divorce or dissolution. It is the handful of so-called dead-beat dads or moms who give a bad name to all fathers that owe support.

Some parents just won't pay because they just don't care.

A suspended driver's license won't make a difference. Jail would be a better motivator.

Then there are the parents, especially during these tough economic times, who face unemployment. Child support payments, like other expenses, become a juggling act. What gets paid first?

Child support enforcement agencies under the state Department of Job and Family Services admit they have been a little more flexible during the recession.

There are fathers and mothers out there who owe support who can't find a job.

That is where the Department of Job and Family Services can help by providing job search assistance.

Suspending a driver's license was once thought to be a good way to deal with parents who don't pay child support. Look at the police reports every day and count the number of people cited for driving with a suspended license. They don't care if they don't have a license.

Parents may send a child to their room if they misbehave.

What should be done with parents who misbehave and don't pay child support?


In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. Justice Department held 1,832 conferences, at a cost of $121 million. Food and beverages accounted for more than 10 percent of the cost, according to the department's inspector general.

A lot of money? Indeed, particularly, as the inspector general found, with muffins at $16 each for one conference and coffee at more than $1 an ounce at another.

Our tax dollars at work? We suspect many taxpayers would see little justice in such extravagance.



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