Child Support and License Supsension

The Montana Child Support Enforcement Division has wide ranging authority and powers when it comes to establishing and enforcing child support. Their powers to “encourage” enforcement range from income withholding to license suspension. In a state as large as Montana, motor vehicle travel is more of a necessity than a luxury so it’s easy to see why this power is so effective.

Before suspending a parent’s license for failure to pay child support, CSED must give the legally required notice to the noncustodial parent. This is set by statute and something that the law takes very seriously since it goes directly to the Due Process rights guaranteed by both the state and federal constitution. The notice lets the parent know that their license is in danger of being suspended and gives them a deadline to respond and request a hearing.

If the parent requests a hearing, one is held in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). An ALJ is different from a traditional judge. They are often attorneys, but not this is not necessarily true. While working for CSED, they focus exclusively on child support matters – unlike a District Court Judge who will hear a huge variety of different cases. Administrative hearings tend to be less formal in that they are not held in a courtroom and involved a more relaxed version of the rules. For people representing themselves, the administrative process tends to be more welcoming and understandable.

Montana is somewhat unique in the way that it handles license suspension. Unlike other states, our CSED has authority to order the license suspension itself for child support violations. Their order is then given to the DMV which will suspend the license.

The bottom line here is that your driver’s license can be suspended for failure to pay child support. The simple solution is to pay the child support owed, but the more important message is how vital it is to participate in the process that establishes child support. So many people think that there’s no reason. That’s just not true. There are lots of good reasons. For example, without accurate income information – the rules allow the other parent to guess. This means that a reasonable number will be assigned, and the calculation will be based on that assumption. The fact that you may not actually make that much money doesn’t factor in to it. And the end result may be a loss of your driver’s license.

Now, doesn’t being involved in the process sound like a better idea?