By Gerri Elder
After a divorce or separation involving minor children, child support usually becomes a major issue. Whether the noncustodial parent feels that they've been ordered to pay too much, or the custodial parent feels that it's too little, there is often resentment and conflict when it comes to child support.
Adding to the drama, some noncustodial parents refuse to pay or fall behind on child support payments, and this can cause problems. In Tennessee, non-custodial parents who do not make their court ordered child support payments could lose the ability to work.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services has notified deadbeat parents in the state and let them know that they could lose their driver's, professional and recreational sporting licenses if they do not catch up on child support payments.
Without professional and driver's licenses - and in rare cases sporting licenses - these parents may find it difficult to work and earn any income, making it increasingly difficult to make those child support payments.
Parents who work as registered nurses, real estate agents, security guards and teachers are among those who will be out of work if their licenses are revoked for failure to pay child support. The notices that were mailed to parents who have not made child support payments said that if the parents are $500 or more behind in child support and haven't made a payment in more than 90 days, there is a risk of losing all state-issued licenses.
Human Services Commissioner Gina Lodge told Commercial Appeal that the Department of Human Services is committed to making sure children in Tennessee receive their court-ordered child support. Lodge says that license revocation will be a wake-up call that forces noncustodial parents to stay current on child support payments.
There are reportedly more than 20,000 licenses in Tennessee that are currently at risk. The warning letters were sent out to parents in every county in Tennessee. The department says that usually half of the parents that receive letters threatening their licenses will be taken away work with DHS to pay off their child support obligations. For those that do not pay up, earning a living can get a little more difficult. Last year, the state revoked more than 7,000 licenses because people failed to pay child support.
The state makes further efforts to collect child support payments by using enforcement tools such as administrative wage assignment or wage garnishing, liens and federal intercept programs. In Tennessee, there are currently more than 260,000 cases in which the court has ordered a parent to pay child support. DHS reports that in approximately 55 percent of these cases the child support payments are made on time.