It is unfortunate that compliance with court-ordered child support must be preceded by threats of losing a driver's license. But Lucas County's child support enforcement agency had to find some way to shake up chronic deadbeat parents. If suspending the licenses of dads or moms who refuse to financially support their children finally gets their attention, so much the better. It's about time they meet their monthly obligations.
Most non-custodial parents do fulfill their financial commitment, with some 65 percent of the county's 50,000 child support cases in compliance. It's the particularly stubborn cases that the new sanctions are aimed at correcting.
Those hardcore cases involve people who, despite notices by the agency to pay up, have repeatedly declined to do so.
Agency director Maricarol Torsok says caseworkers do not plan to target someone who misses a single payment or is laid off and struggling to keep a roof over his head. Only those who thumb their noses at the system and simply spurn support payments may lose their licenses and be forced to get around town without a car.
County Commissioner Bill Copeland calls the new option to suspend driver's licenses for seriously delinquent child support payments “a wake-up call.”
Disregard the next payment notice from the child support enforcement agency and violators may suffer immediate consequences. The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support is betting more people will either pay in full or make payment arrangements when faced with the risk of having their licenses suspended.
Whatever works. By giving local payment enforcement agencies new tools to force deadbeat parents off the dime, the state legislature recognized not only the seriousness of such defaults but the hardships of countless families doing without because support payments are nonexistent.