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Pay Up or Park: Texas Links Child Support to Car Registration

Poverty & Family Economics


The state’s rare approach is meant to increase child support payments. But some say it will do the opposite.

By J.B. Wogan


Starting in December, Texas will try something new to get parents to pay child support: withhold their vehicle registration.

The move is a controversial attempt to get more noncustodial parents to pay child support on-time and in-full. But some family and antipoverty advocates say the policy will have unintended consequences.

“If you penalize people, there are a small subset who will start paying, but I don’t think that’s the majority of the people,” said Nune Phillips, a policy analyst with the Center on Law and Social Policy. “It is potentially going to make the problem worse.”

Under the new approach, if parents are at least six months late on their payments, the state Department of Motor Vehicles will refuse to renew their annual vehicle registration until they start paying again. In Texas, people can drive their cars for five days with an expired registration; beyond that time, they risk a fine of up to $200.

All 50 states already restrict, suspend or revoke driver’s licenses when …

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