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How Do I Get My License Back If I Owe Child Support?


How Far Behind in Child Support Before They Suspend Your License?

Did you know you can lose one, or even all, of a variety of licenses when you fail to pay child support? After a divorce, many parents find themselves splitting child custody with their ex-spouse. The parent who does not have full custody of the children is often mandated to pay child support each month. But what happens when a parent can’t make these payments? All 50 states have laws requiring license suspension if a parent falls behind on child support payments. 

Depending on the state, the obligor (the parent who owes child support) may have one or several of the following licenses revoked should they fail to pay child support:

  • Driver’s license
  • Occupational license
  • Professional license 
  • Business license
  • Recreational license (hunting, fishing, etc.)

In North Carolina, the obligor may lose their driver’s license, occupational license, professional license, recreational license, and business license. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.12, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 110-142 through 110-142.2)

In South Carolina, the obligor may lose all of the above, as well as their commercial license. South Carolina does have one exception, though: The obligor may obtain a route-restricted driver’s license so they can drive to work. (S.C. Code § 56-1-171, S.C. Code § 63-17-1020 through § 63-17-1070)

Child support and license suspension may not seem to be related, especially when it comes to things like driving a car, working, or fishing. But courts revoke licenses in the hope that it will incentivize the obligor to catch up on outstanding child support payments. Without these funds, the obligor’s child or children may not receive the financial support they need for food, clothing, and schooling.

If you’ve fallen behind on child support payments, or if you’ve even reached the point where your license has been suspended, there are ways to get it back. Below is important information on license suspension laws, how much notice you have before license suspension, and what to do if you lose your license. 

How Far Behind in Child Support Before They Suspend Your License?

Your license will be suspended if you fall behind on child support payments, and the exact amount of money in arrears — or the delinquency threshold — depends on the laws of each state. In North Carolina and South Carolina, the delinquency thresholds are defined as follows:

  • North Carolina: Arrears of one month (one month of unpaid child support), or failure to comply with a subpoena 
  • South Carolina: Arrears of $500, and the obligor has not paid in 60 days 

Your license may also be suspended if you pay on time, but only make part of your agreed-upon payment. You can find laws for other states here.

What Happens If My License Is Suspended for Child Support Arrears?

If you know you have fallen behind on child support payments, you may be worrying: “When is the exact moment that my license suspension kicks in?” The suspension doesn’t happen until the county government has provided ample notice, which may follow the following process: 

  • Your county’s Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) contacts that Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to report child support arrears. 
  • The DMV sends you a letter warning you of the “intent to suspend” your license. 
  • Once you receive this letter, you have a set number of days to contact DCSS and catch up on child support payments before your license suspension. This could range anywhere from 10 to 150 days. In North Carolina, you have 14 days, and in South Carolina, you have 45 days.
  • If you do not contact DCSS and do not catch up on payments, your license will be suspended once your grace period ends.

The process above will happen for the suspension of a driver’s, professional, recreational, occupational, and business license. 

The way to have your license reinstated is to catch up on child support payments. Once you’ve done that, contact DCSS and prove that you are up to date. One DCSS confirms that you are no longer in arrears, your license will be reinstated. 

If for some reason you cannot catch up on child support payments, you still need to contact DCSS and notify them of your extenuating circumstances. The court will review your case and determine if your child support agreement should be modified, or if you should enter into a payment agreement.

Get Help From Family Attorneys

There are many reasons why a non-custodial parent may fall behind on child support payments, such as losing a job or experiencing financial hardship. Situations like these may be further complicated by losing your license, making it harder to look for jobs or commute to work. No matter your situation, the compassionate family law attorneys at Collins Family & Elder Law Group are on your side.

Our lawyers have extensive experience helping families navigate child custody arrangements and everything that comes with them. If you’re unsure what to do once your license is suspended, our team can offer you legal counsel to help you get through any challenging situation. Contact Collins Family & Elder Law Group today to schedule a consultation.

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