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Failure to pay child support in Texas will soon keep parents from renewing vehicle registration

Texas parents who have not paid child support for at least six months will not be able to renew their car registration. It’s the latest tool the state Attorney General’s Office is using to get moms and dads to pay up.

But some attorneys argue the move will only affect poor people and prevent them from being able to work.

El Paso attorney Fernando Chacon is no fan of punishing people who do not pay their child support by blocking their vehicle registration renewal.

“Tying anything to a person’s mobility, which is a constitutional right, is wrong. It doesn’t accomplish the goal; it only penalizes poor people,” Chacon said.

Chacon believes a judge should decide whether a person is intentionally not paying child support or unintentionally.

The law already allows the non-renewal of driver and professional licenses for parents who have gone at least six months without making a payment.

Janece Rolfe is the spokesperson for the Child Support Division in the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

“It’s not our desire to take away a person’s transportation, but it is our desire to see that the children in the community get the support they deserve,” Rolfe said.

Texas is aggressive when it comes to collecting child support. The Lone Star State has collected $3.8 billion. That figure is higher than any other state’s.

The motor vehicle department will send out notifications starting in September alerting parents of registrations that expire in December. The AG’s office has set up a dedicated phone line to make payment arrangements.

“When the payment plan is executed, then the information will be sent that evening to the department of motor vehicles and that hold will be lifted,” Rolfe said.

El Paso family attorney Ouisa Davis thinks the issue is more complicated.

“It’s a nice thought, but the reality is that it is going to impact people who owe so much they’re not going to be able to pay it. It’s going to create a reason to drive without car registration,” said Davis.

But the AG’s office believes it’s important to use a multi-dimensional approach to collecting child support, especially in places like the Borderland where many workers are paid in cash.

The AG’s office started a program in 2005 called NCP (non-custodial parent) Choices. The office works with the Texas Workforce Commission and with local courts to help parents get jobs and stay employed so they can pay their child support.

You can contact the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division by calling 800-252-8014.

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