Strategies to Avoid Suspension of a Driver’s License Due to Child Support Arrears in New York

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In New York, as in all other states, the failure of an obligor to pay child support may lead to the suspension of his or her license to operate a motor vehicle. Not surprisingly, many parents who have disregarded their child support obligations find themselves in a state of panic when they receive notice that within a matter of mere days, their nonpayment could cost them their ability to legally drive.The rules governing the suspension of drivers’ licenses as a result of child support arrears are set forth in Section 510 of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law. The law requires that the Department of Social Services notify the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles of persons who are in arrears as to their child support obligations and/or combined child support and spousal support obligations.In general, under New York law, drivers’ licenses can be suspended if the amount of past-due child support is greater than four (4) months of the current obligation, and the obligor is not paying support via an income execution.Child Support obligors who receive notice of a pending suspension due to child support arrearages have several options. First, they may request that they be given a restricted license. Typically, the issuance of a restricted license is done so that the payor/obligor may continue to work. The conditional license may provide that the obligor is permitted to drive to and from work, as well as during their work if the employment requires driving.Alternatively, he or she may request a “hardship exemption.” Such exemptions are discretionary, and a request would entail a personal appearance at the Support Collection Unit (SCU).In order to most effectively determine which of the above options is most appropriate, and the best strategy for avoiding a suspension or other enforcement action, it is advisable to consider retaining an experienced New York child support lawyer. Because New York’s Support Collection Unit strictly evaluates requests for hardship exemptions, it is essential that individuals facing the possibility of having their licenses suspended for support arrears consult with a NY divorce lawyer with experience in support issues.