FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2000
FURTHER INFORMATION:
Patricia Harris-Morehead at
(615) 313-4880 or Bill Duffey
(615) 313-4707

DHS AND LOCAL CHILD SUPPORT OFFICES PREPARE TO REVOKE

ALMOST 11,000 LICENSES FOR FAILURE TO PAY

NASHVILLE--The Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) and local child support offices are notifying almost 11,000 individuals who collectively owe more than $102.6 million in past due child support that their driver’s or professional license will be revoked for failure to pay their court-ordered child support obligations. Notices were mailed on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Those who receive the notices have 20 days from the date they receive their certified letter to either pay the balance, work out a suitable payment plan, or contest the notice to their local child support office by filing an appeal.

This mailing represents the largest group of delinquent parents to face license revocation as a result of state legislation passed and signed into law by Gov. Don Sundquist several years ago. The state can revoke driver’s, professional, and hunting and fishing licenses of delinquent parents who owe at least $500 that is 90 days or more past due.

Local child support offices operated by juvenile courts, district attorneys, and private companies reviewed and researched about 20,000 potential names to see if the cases met the criteria. Each of the local child support offices was given until the first part of September to submit a final list. Notices were prepared for certified mail and placed in the mail this week.

Once receipts for the letters are returned and entered into the state’s child support computer system, a special computer program will generate a report that will be sent to the appropriate state licensing agencies for action. DHS plans to run the report in late October.

"We are putting delinquent parents on notice to expect this action if their child support payments are not current. The lack of adequate child support is one of the major reasons single parents and their children must rely on public assistance programs," state Human Services Commissioner Natasha Metcalf said. "We are proceeding cautiously and working very closely with the local child support offices to ensure the information in our system is accurate. An enormous amount of time has been devoted to reviewing, researching and updating case records."

Metcalf also said the people who were sent the notices have been given ample time to bring their accounts up to date or work out payment arrangements.

The past due payments range from $501 to $89,000. Those targeted for revocation live or have lived throughout the state. According to officials 2,658 of the revocation notices were

sent to Shelby County; 1,241 were sent to Hamilton County; 794 were sent to Knox County; 452 were sent to Madison County; 305 were sent to Davidson County; and 256 were sent to Sullivan County.

Most of the notices target driver’s licenses issued through the Tennessee Department of Safety. However, there are 22 people who could lose professional licenses issued by the state Departments of Health, Education, Environment and Conservation, and Commerce.

Since the law passed, almost 1,300 driver’s and professional licenses have been revoked for delinquent child support. State officials report that more than $15 million has been paid as a result of the revocations or the threat of revocation.

In the warning notices, parents are told they can prevent revocation if they contact local child support officials and make arrangements to pay the debt or prove they do not meet the criteria for license revocation.

Tennessee’s Child Support program is administered by the Department of Human Services. Custodial parents routinely contact the local child support offices for assistance with establishing paternity, establishing child support orders, locating absent parents, and collecting child support payments. There is not a charge for these services that are provided locally through contracts with district attorney’s offices, juvenile courts, and private agencies.

For more information on the child support license revocation process, contact the local child support offices.

Editor’s Note: Attached is a listing of local child support contractors/personnel, and phone numbers for the local offices.