Hitting Child Support Scofflaws Where It Hurts

Maine, the first state to deny hunting and fishing licenses to deadbeat dads (or moms) until they pony-up overdue child support payments, has now expanded the innovative (and effective) approach to prohibit those dodging their parental responsibilities from registering snowmobiles and ATVs. Mainemap

Gov. John Baldacci yesterday signed into law the bill allowing the revocation of snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle registration from a person who has been identified as failing to comply with court-ordered child support. The measure became immediately effective with the governor’s signature.

Since its implementation in 1993, the law providing denial of motor vehicle, hunting, fishing, professional and other licenses to child support scofflaws has successfully recovered millions in overdue child-support payments—and several other states have followed Maine’s lead.

A 1996 Tennessee law allowed for the revocation of hunting and fishing licenses from deadbeat parents, though the tracking process proved cumbersome until hunters and anglers were required to provide their Social Security number when purchasing a license, beginning in 2004. Since that time, hundreds of deadbeat parents—who are $500 behind or 90 days late in payments--have been tracked down in The Volunteer State.

“For a lot of people, taking away their hunting and fishing privileges really hits them where it hurts,” said the Carol Freeman of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Is it effective? You bet.

“By our best estimate, more than 70 percent of the people who have had their privileges revoked have paid up and gotten them back,” Freeman said. “That tells you they don’t like living without those privileges.”