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License Suspension For Non-Payment of Child Support Refined by 2017 Maryland General Assembly

Effective October 1, 2017, changes go into effect regarding the Office of Child Support Enforcement's right to suspend different types of licenses of payors who fall behind on child support.  Specifically, these changes apply to driver’s licenses as well as business, occupation, and professional licenses. 

On driver’s licenses: 

Drivers can lose their driver's licenses for failure to pay child support.  This can apply when someone fails to pay any child support or when someone does not pay the full amount of child support.  The new law distinguishes between noncommercial and commercial driver’s licenses; current law does not.  Currently, the law allows the office of child support enforcement to notify the Motor Vehicle Administration/MVA of drivers who fall behind on their child support by 60 days' worth of payments.  This new law will set the timing at noncommercial drivers who accumulate 60 days or more of arrears and commercial drivers who accumulate 120 days or more of back child support.

On business/occupation/professional licenses:  

Currently, a business/occupation/professional license may be suspended if the license holder falls behind on child support for 120 days or more.  The new law entitles the business/occupation/professional license holder to request an investigation before the suspension due to the wrong arrearage amount, suspension impeding employment from the primary source of income, good faith payments by the payor, undue hardship either due to documented disability resulting in verified inability to work or due to inability to comply with the child support order.  If any of these exists, the office of child support enforcement may not seek suspension of the payor’s business/occupation/professional license.  The new law adds additional reasons to reinstate a suspended business/occupation/professional license – for payment of a lump sum equal to four times the monthly child support (so, child support/month x 4) or cooperation with the office of child support enforcement to enter an earnings withholding order with the maximum wage withholding per federal law.

Click here to view the House Bill 1047.

Lindsay Parvis is a member of the Legislative Committee of the Family & Juvenile Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association, seeking to improve family law for families, attorneys, and the courts.

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