In either divorce, or paternity cases, often the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay some amount of child support to the custodial parent. The actual weekly amount ordered depends on several variables, such as the relative income of both parents and the number of overnight visits the noncustodial parent has been ordered to receive. But what happens when the parent ordered to pay support just does not pay?
There may be several reasons why, such as loss of income due to losing a job1, but what if, despite having a paying job and/or income, the parent who is obligated to pay support still does not pay anyway?
Indiana law provides that if the parent ordered to pay support is found by a court to have intentionally violated the support order, and is delinquent in their support payments, the court shall order the BMV2 to suspend that parent’s driver’s license, or if that parent does not have a license, then to not issue one, until the court orders otherwise3. Indiana law defines “delinquent” as, at least $2,000 or more in arrearages, or 3 months or more of nonpayment4.
The law’s use of the word “shall” was recently addressed in an Indiana Court of Appeals Case, Graf v. Graf, which ultimately held that if a court finds that the parent who has failed to pay meets the “delinquent” requirements of over $2,000 or 3 months past due, and did so intentionally, meaning that parent has income, and did not pay regardless, the court MUST order the BMV suspend the nonpayer’s driver’s license5. In the Graf case, the trial court ordered sanctions and a wage withholding order until the payor paid off his child support arrearage, but did not go so far as to order his Driver’s License suspended. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case to the trial court, holding that the trial court erred when it did not suspend his driver’s license.
- If you have a support obligation, and find that you have lost income due to loss of a job or otherwise, you may wish to seek counsel to assist with modifying the support order before you unilaterally chose to cease paying upon your obligation..
- Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
- Indiana Code § 31-16-12-7.
- Indiana Code § 31-25-4-2.
- Graf v. Graf, --- N.E.2d ---- (Ind.Ct.App. 2012).