Couples entering marital separation often worry about losing things that they once claimed ownership to. These things commonly include cars, the house, and other possessions.
It’s also possible for a person to lose their driver’s license following a divorce.
Almost all states—43 in all—will suspend the driver’s license of a non-custodial parent who owes child support. In states where such laws exist, the social services department will notify the motor vehicle authority of the delinquency, which will trigger the suspension process.
The exact amount of unpaid child support that results in a suspension will depend on the state. For example, New York will take away one’s right to drive if he/she owes an amount equal to or greater than four months of payments. (N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law § 13-244 and N.Y. Soc. Serv. Law § 6A-111b). Other states may suspend a driver’s license sooner.
Owe Child Support? You Could Lose Your License
What Does Child Support Have to Do with Driving?
Driving privileges and child support are unrelated, so this kind of punitive action may seem strange. Given that many individuals rely on driving for both work and discretionary purposes, the aim is to jolt the parent into catching up on delinquent payments and discourage missing child support payments moving forward.
Is it Only Driver’s Licenses That Can Be Suspended?
Depending on the state, a person can lose more than just a driver’s license. For example, in New York, a person could lose other types of licenses, such as a business license, a professional license (e.g. for nurses or attorneys), and recreational licenses, such as those for hunting or fishing. Some states will also not let one renew a vehicle registration due to unpaid child support.
What If Both Parents Live in Different States?
One state cannot suspend a license that is issued in another state. However, if the non-custodial parent is licensed in a different state than the parent to whom the support is owed, the latter state may request that the former state suspend the delinquent individual. The exact procedure and how each state would respond to such a request varies. However, it would be unwise to assume that living in different states would protect one from a suspended license.
Can I Fight a Suspended License Due to Delinquent Child Support?
Clearly, losing one’s license has the potential to impact one’s ability to earn enough money to pay child support in the first place. As such, most states allow time for due process to take place. This means the non-custodial parent is usually be notified first that child support payments are owed and that a suspension could occur.
The parent may also be asked to attend a hearing. There, the parent will have the opportunity to get current on payments or enter into a payment plan. If the non-custodial parent fails to attend the hearing or continues to fall behind on payments, then a suspension can occur.
While this is serious, there are ways to challenge or lessen the impact of a suspension. One is to request a restricted or hardship license that will enable the parent to travel between work and home in order to ensure that he/she can maintain employment. However, this kind of license can still limit one’s freedom. Further, if the parent begins to fall behind again, a full suspension can be issued.
If I Make All My Payments, How Quickly Will My License Be Reinstated?
This is a difficult question to answer. One of the biggest challenges a person faces when it comes to a child-support-induced suspension is that one must work with two different government agencies (this challenge is exacerbated when the parents live in separate states). This means the process could be very slow. There’s also the potential for confusion and miscommunication. While hiring an attorney to help with reinstating one’s license is not required, it can be extremely beneficial.
If I’m Suspended in New York Can I Apply for a License in a Different State?
No. When an individual applies for a driver’s license, the application will ask whether they are currently licensed or suspended in a different jurisdiction. If they lie and answer “no” to that question and DMV finds out about it (which is possible due to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact) the individual could face not only license suspension or revocation but also criminal charges for driver’s license fraud.
Adam H. Rosenblum, Esq. is the founder of TrafficTickets.com, which focuses on traffic violations, driver’s license suspensions, and criminal defense and in both New York and New Jersey.