By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (August 11, 2016) – Certain Texas residents failing to follow court-ordered obligations are approaching a road block. The Texas Attorney General’s Office is expected to rollout a new program making it impossible for child support evaders to renew their motor vehicle registration next month.
The program targets evaders who are six months or more behind on child support payments, requiring them to make payment or arrangements through state offices before they can register their cars, trucks and other automobiles.
The effort adds to other aggressive collection tactics by the AG’s Child Support Division, which can include suspension of driver’s, professional and recreational licenses and property liens, as well as garnishment of wages and withholding of lottery winnings and income tax returns.
Erath County Tax Assessor Jennifer Carey said the new law paving the way for the program dates back to eight years ago, but complications have stalled statewide launch more than once.
“It has taken quite a while to get the information in any type of format to transmit from the Attorney General (AG) to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV),” Carey said, adding the program was most recently delayed in May.
The DMV is expected to begin notifying affected individuals of the issue in September when three-month registration notices are sent to motor vehicle owners whose current registration expires in December.
While Carey anticipates hearing from number of disgruntled motorists, clerks or officials in local DMV offices will not be able to detour from the program.
“Accounts will be flagged, and we will not be allowed to proceed to attempt to register the vehicle,” Carey said.
Once a stop has been placed on the renewal process, affected individuals must contact the AG’s office and make payment arrangements before the hold is lifted.
Carey said when an account is flagged by the DMV, all current and future motor vehicles registered in the name of the child support evader can be impacted until the issue is resolved. She said a similar program prevents the purchase or renewal of toll tags.
“There are lot of people not paying their court-ordered child support, making it so custodial parents are unable to support their children,” Carey said.
But the latest AG effort could land evaders behind bars. Operating a motor vehicle without valid registration is illegal and could lead to fines and jail time, depending upon the degree of the offense.
Meanwhile, officials with the child support division believe the new program will be worth the effort, boosting already successful collection efforts.
Texas’ Child Support Division is the most successful and cost-effective program in the nation, according to a September 2015 press release from the agency. At that time, the division administered 1.5 million child support cases, serving 1.7 million children and collecting $11.34 for every $1 spent to operate the program.
The agency reportedly collected $3.7 billion in child support in Federal FY 2014.