Child support enforcement effort focuses on recreational licenses
September 23, 2003
Bismarck, N.D. - The North Dakota Department of Human Services' Child Support Enforcement Division has identified almost 400 individuals who owe at least $5,000 in past due child support and who risk losing their hunting privileges in North Dakota if they fail to support their children.
"Hunting is a privilege - a privilege that does not take precedence over children and families," said Mike Schwindt, director of the state Child Support Enforcement Division. "The department is stepping up child support enforcement efforts and has notified some parents that the state will suspend their hunting privileges unless they live up to their responsibilities to their children."
The 2003 legislature enacted legislation (SB 2246) to promote parental responsibility and to deter people from falling behind in their child support obligations. The law authorizes the state child support enforcement program to use various enforcement tools. This pilot enforcement project matches child support records against the list of North Dakota lottery-issued hunting licenses for elk, moose, deer, antelope, swan, and turkey.
Regional child support enforcement units are reviewing cases and have begun to notify affected individuals in their regions. North Dakota law gives noncustodial parents 30 days to negotiate a payment plan after they are notified of an enforcement action.
Schwindt said unpaid child support affects the well-being of children. "Many families have to get by with less and some have to rely on public assistance programs to survive when support isn't paid," he said.
The state is collecting data to determine the effectiveness of this latest effort to promote parental responsibility. Some of the child support enforcement tools available to states include the denial of passports, credit bureau reporting, tax refund intercepts, estate recovery, and revocation of driver licenses, professional licenses, recreational licenses, and motor vehicle registrations. North Dakota is also exploring these enforcement options.
In August 2003, child support collections in North Dakota exceeded $7.3 million and about 30,000 support checks were issued to families by the state disbursement unit. State child support collections total $61.4 million year to date, about five percent more than 2002.
Heather Steffl, N.D. Department of Human Services, (701) 328-4933