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Deadbeat parents bill: Suspended license, hefty fine to reinstate

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Del. Clifford A. “Clay” Athey Jr., R-Front Royal







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By James Heffernan --jheffernan@nvdaily.com

Deadbeat parents, beware: The penalty for not paying your child support on time is about to go up.

A bill in Richmond from Del. Clifford L. "Clay" Athey Jr., R-Front Royal, would establish a procedure in Virginia under which a habitual offender could lose his or her driver's license more than once, and the minimum fee for reinstatement could reach $1,800.

Under current state law, parents who have had their license revoked for failure to pay child support must pay the Department of Social Services 5 percent of their total obligation, or $500, whichever is greater, to get it back.

HB 1694 would increase that figure to $600 for a first offense. For a second offense, the fee would jump to $1,200; a third offense would require $1,800 and potentially the repayment of the entire obligation before reinstatement.

The bill "brings the three-strikes-and-you're-out axiom to those who refuse to pay child support on time," Athey said.

When a deadbeat parent fails to make child support payments, not only do their children suffer, he added, but many times the government has to make up the difference through expensive social programs.

"This bill puts the responsibility for one's children where it belongs -- on the parents," he said.

The measure, which Athey has introduced in the Virginia General Assembly once before, faced only token opposition this session and passed both chambers by a combined margin of 133-4. It is now headed to Gov. Bob McDonnell for his signature.

Athey said the bill is intended to be a deterrent.

"What we've seen is, there has been some gaming of the system," he said. "Certain individuals have found that it's cheaper for them to not pay child support and then pay the $500 reinstatement fee to get their license back."

Still, Athey said he was careful not to set the penalties too high.

"It has to be a balancing act," he said. "You don't want to put an offender in a position where they'll just decide to go without a license and stop working, and then, in turn, stop making child-support payments."

According to the bill's fiscal impact statement, the Department of Social Services collected $2,185,000 from the minimum $500 license reinstatement fee in fiscal 2010.

Based on the provisions in Athey's bill, the department estimates that its total fee collection will increase by approximately $577,000 annually.


14 Comments



I hope this bill DOES NOT pass.I get one check a month and DOES NOT get here be for my support is due.And Child support WON'T change that.Also when letters are sent out from Richmond Va your already behind the 8 ball.Got a letter last week and had to call Richmond that same day or would have been late.They should send letters out with more than 5 day to call them.DONT PASS THIS BILL

I don't have any kids but this could be the dumbest law ever. The deadbeat parent probably needs thats license so they can make money. Why do we do something useful like forced workcamps. You can either go to jail or spend 8-16 hours a week doing work for the city or local government. I'm sure we need help cleaning the roads or working at the dump. Have DCS pay them $5 an hour for that work that goes directly to the child. The option is do what we tell you or go to jail. Taking their license just makes it harder for them to find real work. Do something smart for once, there is nothing wrong with hard labor camps.

It's a nice thought, but if you aren't paying child support, are you really going to care that your license is suspended?

this bill isn't going to make a difference.....my ex has been without his licenses for over 20yrs now and he still isn't paying his child support. actually he is doing time in jail because he wasn't paying his child support and among other things, and because he doesn't have his licenses it does make it harder for them to find work so how is this bill going to help. deadbeat parents have it in their mind that they won't pay their child support they will find any excuse not to get a job. all i got to say is good luck and hope it doesn't come back to bite them in the butt.

Agreed, Rusty! My ex has driven around for about a decade with no license. He's now owing over 50K in back child support to two older children. IF, and it's a BIG IF, he actually gets a job, everything he makes will be garnished to pay for the orders on the two older children, and if there is anything leftover, our two children get it.
Viewing this from both sides, I have trouble understanding how the system can make arbitrary orders for non-custodial parents to pay and have no consideration for the reality of our economy and that person's earning potential. While I was married, the order my husband had for his oldest child was modified from an affordable amount to nearly 5X more, with no relationship to his actual income at the time. He was residing in another state and was unable to personally appear for the hearing. And, of course, had nothing to pay for good legal help.
I used to live in CO. Their lawmakers have decided that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, has the ability to pay a minimum of $50. per month in child support. Even those in state prison, who can work and earn only $12. per month in wages, have to be ordered to pay $50. per month in child support. Therefore, IF they are released, they are in arrears before they even go to work, IF they can get a job because of their criminal background! We can be "tough" on "deadbeat" non-custodial parents, but lets face facts here. What is our economy doing to help those who are fully educated, skilled and have a clean background? They are looking for jobs at McDonald's, just to make end meet! Things are even less promising for those who have anything negative on their record, or don't have the education or marketable skills to success in today's marketplace.
I like the idea of a "work camps", but many would see that as "too" punitive. Does it border on a "debtor's prison", similar to where the poverty stricken ended up 100 yrs ago? Yes, our government has to help these kids whose parents are completely unable to support their own children. And many parents simply walk away from the kids, washing their hands of the whole responsibility in their own mind. My ex has decided that I divorced him because I wanted to continue to qualify for state support. Forgetting the fact that his alcoholism was abusive to our family, and our children deserved to be with parents who were committed to them and sobriety.
I think many parents are in the same situation: bound by addictions, unskilled and unable to function in the marketplace successfully, and therefore, end up with the never ending circuit of legal trouble and debt. Can't those in the state house come up with something that can help everyone be redeemed and lead to a better quality of living? Job placement services for everyone, help with resume prep and interview skills, computer classes since most jobs now require computer applications. Even directing these funds into parenting and counseling classes for all, teaching marketable skills, and allowing them to have a good sense of purpose.
You've heard the old saying, "you can't get blood from a stone". If someone is completely unable to find the income to pay child support on a regular basis, taking away their license and charging them even more money to get it restored legally will NOT lead to more child support payments. It will only result in more illegal drivers on our roads!

Pay your find. Go and sin no more. Ha-ha, thats a joke!

Rusty,Without a license how could we work in most cases if your working they do a payroll deduction.Also without a license ppl like me that have weekly medical needs would die.And i have no other way to get to doctors appt's.So i should just die is what you are saying? As for working off child support other states do that.Sp I agree why not work for the state a few hrs a week.In my case im not allowed to work due to medical issues.

I think the intentions are good but it could be wrought with problems and logistical nightmares. Of couse I can't comment on the entire Bill because I have not read it. I know of a dead beat dad that chose to quit his job once he got served with child support. The support was going to take about $300 out of a total of $1200 in monthly earnings. He felt his work time was worth more than the $900 that he was going to take home, so he chose $0. This is an extreme case of ignorance and stupidity, but this is what we are dealing with folks! BTW....he doesn't have a drivers license and the courts probably won't put him in jail. When you factor in the social costs, jail is more expensive. The state should just pay an additional $300 for the kids. We all need a bail out since we can't take responsibilty for ourselves. What a shame.

A good (but failed) attempt to make me look like the bad guy.

I said "It's a nice thought, but if you aren't paying child support, are you really going to care that your license is suspended? "

I never said "R.T. White should die."

Not having a license doesn't keep people from driving. Turn on a police scanner, you'll be surprised. People charged with not having a license get no punishment from the courts; From the time I was a witness in a crash, it was a $200 fine (which some won't pay) and they are back on the street.

If there is someone who wont pay child support, taking their license isn't going to sway them. It's hard for some to beleive that there are people like this in the world, but there are.

The solution is prison + work release and 95% garnishment until the obligation is paid off.

Wow, this is a odd thing to pass at a time when so many people are out of work and having a hard time finding a job.

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This bill isnt going to help me out. My kids "Father" hasnt had a license in 20 years. He has worked at many jobs getting paid tax free cash money, so the only time I do get money is when they threaten him to jail or he goes to jail on work release. I still dont get what's owed to me. The system doesnt work, deadbeats find a way around everything!

DCSE is already a broken system that often makes mistakes, you can never speak to a human being, and yet the State has done nothing to fix these issues.
Virginia is the only state I have heard of that allows the agency responsible for Child Support to suspend a person's driver's license--a power normally only allowed by the Court.

But the bigger question is WHY is the DMV going to profit from this when the money should go to the child? Everytime DCSE suspends a driver's license, they charge extreme fees to reinstate.

If you are going to suspend driver's licenses, then provide public transportation out here Mr. Athey to allow people to get to jobs in Northern Virginia since you haven't brought any jobs this way.

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I was a little scared until I read the actual bill. It says for parents who willfully or refuse to pay support. If you have an inability to pay, then the circumstances are different. I agree with most, DCSE has broken the system to fit their needs, especially with their legal council, Mr. Roadcap. Now not only does he represent the custodial parent, he also will have any custody agreement changed, which is beyond their duties. Child Support is not a bad idea IF it is used for the intended purpose. Someone paying child support does not want to see that money go household bills, big screen tv, computers for other members of the household when the custodial parent is remarried with kids to a husband and or live in b/f and or g/f who refuses to support their own family. This issue is a two way street. The issue of child support needs to be revisited altogether. Judging from our area, 80% of the child support is used as "play money". 5-10% of the 80% custodial parents don't even watch their own kids, it is usually the grandparents. The courts don't want the non custodial parent to spend more time with the child, they want them to pay for support. I tried an experiment about 5 years ago, My ex wife was purposefully not letting me have my children for visitation. So I stopped paying support (I kept the money seperate). I took her to court for a show cause of violating the custody visitation agreement, and for shared custody (already had joint). The judge gave her sole custody, threw out my show cause and almost sent me to jail for not paying support (which was not filed for the case). Theory proved that the courts only want the custodial parent to pay money for support, not visitation time.

For those that are trying, there is no need to knock them down anymore. Most child support cases we do not know about. You may say someone is a deadbeat dad, but the real story could be that she is a deadbeat mom who only wants the money. The system needs to be revamped.

I live in ny and my ex is 16 grand in arrears.He has had his liscence suspended. The state of ny will allow for him to go back and forth to work or medical appointments or to get groceries and that is it. So their ability to work is not taken away. That would be counter productive.



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