Failure to pay child support leads to over 14K vehicle registration denials

Child Support DMV renewal warning (Office of Attorney General's Child Support Division Photo)
Child Support DMV renewal warning (Office of Attorney General's Child Support Division Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Office of the Attorney General says since last September they have denied motor vehicle registration for more than 14,500 non-custodial parents.

The denials are part of a statute which allows the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to deny registration to individuals who have gone at least six months without making a child support payment.

Following the statute, which went into effect last September, the OAG has issued motor vehicle denials on a total of 18,693 cases involving 14,779 non-custodial parents, said Annette Hernandez, communications director for the Texas AG’s Child Support Division.

“Denial of motor vehicle registration renewal has been successful,” she said.

The denials aren’t without warning. According to the division’s website, delinquent parents receive a letter 90 days before their vehicle’s registration expires. That letter explains what they can do to ensure they are compliant before the 90 days is up.

If a delinquent parent does not fix the issue in those 90 days, they must then make an arrangement with the OAG to make child support payments, at which point the OAG will send an electronic update to the DMV, confirming the registration hold for that individual has been lifted.

Nearly a year into the statue, the registration denials are just one of several enforcement methods the agency utilizes to collect child support, Hernandez said.

And, with the fiscal year coming to an end this week, the office is on pace to break last year’s record of collecting more than $4 billion in child support.

So far, between September 2016 and July 2017, the Child Support Division has collected $3.85 billion in child support, Hernandez said.

They office also works to resolve complaints from the public, with the majority of complaints falling under the category of enforcement.

Last year, the Attorney General’s Office reported 12,138 complaints statewide, with more than 3,500 of them related to enforcement, according to data provided to KXAN.

“Enforcement is tricky because it can include a big variety of complaints or of issues,” Hernandez said. “If you’re not having a legal-type problem, you’re very likely having an enforcement issue and that could include anywhere from passport denial to payments not being received… it’s a little bit of a catch-all.”

The state office noted that complaints can be submitted online, in-person and through the mail and while they try to make sure complaints aren’t duplicated in the data they maintain, that’s not always the case. They also do not track informal complaints where an official form isn’t completed.

Hernandez said she’s been with the Child Support Division for about 15 years, and believes the unit is dedicated to its mission.

More recently, Attorney General Ken Paxton launched a public service campaign earlier this month for Child Support Awareness Month in Texas.

“Helping a child along life’s journey takes a lot, and children deserve the love and financial support of both their parents,” Paxton said in the PSA.

Individuals who would like to file a child support complaints can call the Child Support State Office at (512) 460-6000 or click here to be redirected to the OAG’s website.

“It has [been] proven that providing child support to children is — it makes a world [of] difference,” Hernandez said. “Children who have the financial support and the emotional support of both parents are able to thrive and to push forward and they have every opportunity that their parents can put before them available to them.”

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