Section 3123.58 of the Ohio Revised Code allowed the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) to order the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to suspend indefinitely a parent’s driver’s license for non-payment of child support. A single missed payment could result in the suspension of a parent’s driving privileges at the discretion of the applicable county. There was no appeal procedure and there was no limited driving privileges awarded to the parent, even for employment purposes. In order for a parent to get the driver’s license reinstated, that parent must first satisfy CSEA’s reinstatement requirements and then CSEA would notify the BMV to lift the suspension. The reinstatement process could take weeks and there was a reinstatement fee charged by the BMV. The end result was that the suspension became a permanent part of the driver’s record and could show up in record searches, including background checks. The suspension of a parent’s driver’s license could cause significant problems for that parent, including issues with parenting time with their children, difficulty in obtaining a job and/or the potential of losing a current job.
On October 1, 2011 a new law went into effect that will limit the penalties for parents who are in arrears and owe back child support. Under the new law, as long as the parent pays at least half the court ordered monthly child support obligation, that parent will be safe from losing driving privileges. In addition, the new law allows the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency to inform the Bureau of Motor Vehicles that a parent no longer owes back child support and the BMV can remove the prior suspension for failure to pay and clean up the parent’s driving record. Other changes in effect with the implementation of the new law include a provision that encourages judges to place parents who are in arrears on their child support on probation or order them to complete community service rather than send them to jail.
It is important to remember that child support is modifiable and can be increased or decreased for many reasons, including changes in the income of either parent, day care expenses, health care expenses or the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. In the event that a person is under an order to pay child support and is unable to make the required child support payments timely, for whatever reason, it is recommended that the person contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn what rights and options that person has before being subjected to penalties, such as suspension of driver’s license or possibly even jail. Even with the new law, the penalties for falling behind on child support payments can be severe and have significant impact.