Says Current Rules Make No Sense, Deny Individuals an Opportunity to Earn a Paycheck
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice which would allow for the waiver of license suspension or revocation for an individual who is behind on child support payments was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 35-0.
“This bill does not eliminate a parent’s responsibility to support their children, whether the child is living with them or not,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “This bill recognizes the realities of working New Jersey, and that many working-class individuals cannot maintain employment and keep up with child support payments without reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license. Through this legislation, we’re not trying to be lenient on deadbeat parents, but we are trying to make sure that parents who fall out of compliance with court-ordered child support still have the means to earn a paycheck and get back on track.”
The bill, S-1531, would change the existing law authorizing the suspension and revocation of drivers’ licenses for individuals who are delinquent in child support payments to allow people to maintain their driving privileges in certain situations. Under the bill, the court and the Probation Division of the Department of Corrections would have greater discretion to defer or terminate a license suspension if an individual makes arrangements to pay the amount past due on an accelerated schedule and makes a significant up-front payment. The bill would also eliminate the current provision in statute that does not permit a payment plan to extend past the dependent child’s 18th birthday to accommodate individuals making a good-faith effort to catch up on child support payments.
Finally, the bill would clarify that when an individual has been denied a driver’s license because of child support delinquency, the licensing authority may grant a license if the person provides documentation from the Probation Division certifying that he or she is complying with payment arrangements. The individual could also apply to the court for an order to authorize the issuance of a license for employment purposes when employment is necessary to comply with the terms of a child support order. If an individual subsequently fails to comply with their payment plan, the licensing authority would be able to immediately suspend the license upon notification from the Probation Division of default.
“Simply put, New Jersey does not have the mass transportation infrastructure that makes it easy to get around without a car,” said Senator Rice. “As a result, a driver’s license is often needed to get and maintain a job and earn a living, for yourself and your family. It does not make sense to reduce a person’s earning potential when the ultimate goal is to get them to make the child support payments for which they’re responsible.
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.