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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?

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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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