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Published: Monday, 9/26/2011

New state law eases license suspensions


COLUMBUS — Changes to Ohio’s child support laws mean that parents who pay at least half of their court-ordered support will no longer face suspension of their driver’s or professional licenses.

The new law, which was tacked on to the recently passed state budget, takes effect Wednesday.

Another provision lets parents scrub past child support-related suspensions from their driving record.

The measure is aimed at encouraging parents to work.

Donald Hubin of Fathers and Families of Ohio said the majority of child support is owed by parents who are unable, not unwilling, to pay. “Two-thirds of the money is owed by people who earn less than $10,000 a year,” he said.

Now, a parent owing more than a month in child support can lose their driver’s or professional licenses.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services spokesman Benjamin Johnson said that county child-support enforcement agencies must look back 90 days to see if at least 50 percent of child support obligations have been paid.

If the requirement hasn’t been met, officials will send a presuspension notice, which gives parents a chance to pay up. A parent who fails to do so could lose his or her driver’s license. To have it reinstated, a parent must pay in full or prove that employment has been found.

State officials report that the state has pulled licenses of more than100,000 parents in the last year. Of those who lost a driver’s license, they collectively paid only 19 percent of their court-ordered child support. About 60 percent had paid nothing.

Efforts have changed because the recession is making it harder for many parents to pay support, said Kimberly Newsom of the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agencies Directors’ Association.

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