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Can Your License Be Suspended For Not Paying Child Support in Massachusetts?

By The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien

May 30, 2024

Can Your License Be Suspended For Not Paying Child Support in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, the enforcement of child support payments is taken seriously to ensure the well-being of children. The state implements various measures to compel compliance with child support orders. One potential consequence of non-payment is the suspension of driving privileges. The Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement Division has the authority to request the Registry of Motor Vehicles to suspend the driver’s license of a non-compliant parent.

This form of enforcement is often used as a last resort when other efforts to collect unpaid child support have failed. Before a license suspension is enacted, the delinquent payer is generally given opportunities to make good on their obligations, including payment arrangements and notifications about the pending consequences of continuous non-payment. The goal is not to punish, but to encourage compliance with the legal responsibility to provide financial support for one’s children.

Understanding Child Support Law in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, child support is a legal obligation, and failing to adhere to court-ordered payments can lead to serious consequences, including the suspension of driver’s licenses.

Legal Obligations for Child Support

Under Massachusetts law, parents have a financial duty to support their children. This obligation generally continues until a child turns 18, but it can extend under certain circumstances, such as if the child is still dependent and in high school, to age 21, or if the child is enrolled in college or has a disability, to age 23.

  • Calculation of Payments:
    • The amount is based on the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.
    • Factors include income of both parents, childcare costs, health care costs, and other relevant expenses.
  • Payment Process:
    • Typically done through the Department of Revenue (DOR).
    • Payments may be automatically deducted from wages.
  • Legal Enforcement:
    • Child support orders are enforceable by the court.
    • Non-custodial parents must comply with the terms outlined in the order.

Consequences of Non-Payment

The failure to pay child support can have legal repercussions, such as wage garnishment and lien on properties. For repeated non-compliance, one of the enforcement measures includes the suspension of the non-paying parent’s driver’s license.

  • License Suspension Process:
    • Initiated by the DOR after certain thresholds of non-payment are met.
    • Before suspension, individuals typically receive a notice and an opportunity to comply or contest.
  • Role of a Massachusetts License Suspension Lawyer:
    • They advocate for clients facing license suspension due to non-payment of child support.
    • They can negotiate payment plans, seek to prevent suspension, or work to reinstate the license if it has already been suspended.
Police Car Stopped A Grey Car

License Suspension Process

In Massachusetts, the process for suspending a license due to non-payment of child support encompasses a series of legal steps. These steps are designed to ensure that non-paying individuals are fairly notified and allowed to resolve their obligations before a suspension occurs.

Notification and Warning

The Department of Revenue (DOR) issues a Notice of Delinquency to the parent who has fallen behind on child support payments. This notice outlines the amount due and provides a timeframe, typically 60 days, to make the overdue payment. The notice also informs the individual that failure to comply could result in the suspension of their driver’s license.

Judicial Proceedings

If the overdue amount is not paid by the deadline, the DOR may file a complaint for contempt. The matter is then taken to a family court where a judge will examine the case. If the judge determines there is willful non-compliance:

  • A License Suspension Order is issued.
  • The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is directed to suspend the individual’s license.

Appeal Opportunities

After a suspension order, individuals have the right to appeal. A Massachusetts License Suspension Lawyer can guide them through the appeal process, which includes:

  • Filing a motion within a specific period.
  • Presenting evidence suggesting payment was made, the initial notification was not received, or that there is an inability to pay due to a change in circumstances.

Table of Appeal Steps

StepAction RequiredTime Frame
1Submit Appeal10 days post suspension order
2Court HearingScheduled upon filing
3Final DecisionIssued at the discretion of the court

The appeal process is critical for individuals to prevent their license from being suspended or to work towards reinstating it if it has already been suspended.

Getting Your License Reinstated

Once a Massachusetts driver’s license is suspended due to unpaid child support, reinstatement requires satisfying overdue payments and following specific legal procedures.

Meeting Child Support Obligations

To get a license reinstated, all child support arrears must be addressed. The obligor should:

  1. Contact the Department of Revenue (DOR) to obtain the total amount due.
  2. Pay the full amount of past-due support or establish a payment plan acceptable to the DOR.
  3. Ensure ongoing child support obligations are current and continue to be paid on schedule.

Completion of these steps is critical and can be confirmed through official documentation furnished by the DOR.

Working with a Lawyer

Working with a Massachusetts License Suspension Lawyer can significantly streamline the reinstatement process. A specialized lawyer can help:

  • Negotiate: Lawyers may negotiate payment plans with the child support enforcement agency.
  • Advocate: They advocate on behalf of the client in court for reduced payment arrangements or reinstatement terms.
  • Navigate: Legal professionals assist in understanding the complexities of state law and reinstatement procedures.

Engaging a lawyer specialized in license suspensions due to child support can lead to a more efficient reinstatement process.

Preventing License Suspension

In Massachusetts, actively avoiding license suspension due to unpaid child support requires attention to financial obligations and sometimes seeking professional legal support.

Staying Compliant with Payments

The most straightforward method to prevent a driver’s license suspension in Massachusetts is to stay compliant with child support payments. Individuals should:

  • Maintain regular payments: Adhering to the payment schedule outlined by the court order.
  • Keep accurate records: Documenting all payments made can serve as evidence of compliance.
  • Communicate with the Department of Revenue (DOR): If financial circumstances change, contacting DOR immediately can help in arranging modified payments.

Legal Advice and Support

Legal advice is critical when facing the potential for license suspension due to unpaid child support. Massachusetts license suspension lawyers can provide the necessary guidance to navigate the complexities of family law. They assist by:

  • Offering legal representation: They might represent individuals in court to argue against suspension.
  • Negotiating payment plans: Lawyers often negotiate new payment plans that align with their client’s ability to pay.
  • Helping with modifications: When circumstances change, they can aid in filing for modifications of support orders.

Categories: Massachusetts Laws

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