Posted by Travis Uresk | Aug. 14 2022 | Child Support |
August 14th, 2022
Utah has been seeing a surge in child support payments over the past year, a change that state officials credit partly to a new state law that withholds hunting and fishing licenses to people who fall significantly behind on payments.
“I came up with the idea for the bill, actually, in talking with some of my constituents who had noncustodial partners that were overdue on child support and going out and spending lots and lots of money hunting and fishing,” said state Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, who authored and passed the bill enacting the new law two years ago. It went into effect in 2021.
The law blocks anyone from obtaining a hunting or fishing license if they are past due more than $2,500 in child support for a year.
"Many instantly talk about sending people to jail or prison when they hear about non-collection of child support or non-payment of child support. But in reality, if they're going to prison or jail, they're not working, so that's not helping solve the problem," said Utah Office of Recovery Services (ORS) director Liesa Stockdale, whose agency manages child support in the state. " "And when they get out, they have marks on their record, and legal marks on their record that could prevent them from getting future employment. So that's not helping. Then there's a stigma for the children involved that their parents must go to jail or prison. And that's not helping anything."
In their conversations, Stockdale encouraged Lisonbee to think about "creative incentives" that are important to the people who owe child support but wouldn't impact their ability to support their children.
“I think that hunting and fishing are fairly popular in almost every state,” Lisonbee said.
Some states have embraced the policy, including Pennsylvania. Failure to make child support for three months allows the state to suspend a driver’s or professional license.
In Utah, data provided by Stockdale suggests child support payments have gone up since the law was put into place. On July 1, 2021, they blocked the hunting and fishing licenses of 2,959 individuals.
"Out of those people, we looked this year, the first week of July, 494 of those people had come into compliance with the law at some point during the first year," she said.
Stockdale acknowledged that the law might not be the only reason the people caught up on child support.
"There's no way to say a 100% that's why these people were paying their support, I want to be honest and upfront about that," she said.
With that context in mind, Stockdale reports an increase in payments by nearly $2 million a year after the new law took effect, specifically from the individuals whose licenses were withheld.
Lisonbee also worked with lawmakers to update the law this year to add flexibility to its enforcement. One change she made was allowing individuals to obtain licenses if they missed one month's payment because of a transition to a new job.
Ultimately, Stockdale believes that Utah's experience teaches how creative solutions can be used to change people's behavior.
"It's a matter of finding that right incentive for your community, even for different parents within your community," she said. "Two-thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine individuals, that's only a small portion of our parents who owe child support. And we need to continue to be creative to find those little incentive niches that will speak to different parents and mean something to them."
Want to hunt and fish in Utah? Pay your child support
FISHING AND HUNTING RESTRICTIONS FOR
NONPAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT
2022 GENERAL SESSION
STATE OF UTAH
Chief Sponsor: Karianne Lisonbee
Senate Sponsor: Todd D. Weiler
This bill amends the fishing and hunting restrictions for nonpayment of child support.
amends the restrictions for a license, permit, or tag related to fishing or hunting
when an individual is delinquent in child support;
addresses a failure to comply with a payment schedule due to transition to new
makes technical and conforming changes.
Money Appropriated in this Bill:
Other Special Clauses:
Utah Code Sections Affected:
23-19-5.5, as enacted by Laws of Utah 2020, Chapter 183
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
Section 1. Section 23-19-5.5 is amended to read:
23-19-5.5.Issuance of license, permit, or tag prohibited for failure to pay child
(1) As used in this section:
(a) "Child support" means the same as that term is defined in Section 62A-11-401.
(b) "Delinquent on a child support obligation" means that:
(i) an individual owes at least $2,500 on an arrearage obligation of child support based
on an administrative or judicial order;
(ii) the individual has not obtained a judicial order staying enforcement of the
individual's obligation on the amount in arrears; and
(iii) the office has obtained a statutory judgment lien pursuant to Section
(c) "Office" means the Office of Recovery Services created in Section 62A-11-102.
(d) "Wildlife license agent" means a person authorized under Section 23-19-15 to sell a
license, permit, or tag in accordance with this chapter.
(2) (a) An individual who is delinquent on a child support obligation may not apply for,
obtain, or attempt to obtain a license, permit, or tag required under this title, by rule made by
the Wildlife Board under this title, or by an order or proclamation issued in accordance with a
rule made by the Wildlife Board under this title.
(b) (i) An individual who applies for, obtains, or attempts to obtain a license, permit, or
tag in violation of Subsection (2)(a) violates Section 23-19-5.
(ii) A license, permit, or tag obtained in violation of Subsection (2)(a) is invalid.
(iii) An individual who takes protected wildlife with an invalid license, permit, or tag
violates Section 23-20-3.
(3) (a) The license, permit, and tag restrictions in Subsection (2)(a) remain effective
until the office notifies the division that the individual who is delinquent on a child support
(i) paid the delinquency in full; or
(ii) except as provided in Subsection (3)(d), complied for at least 12 consecutive
months with a payment schedule entered into with the office.
(b) A payment schedule under Subsection (3)(a) shall provide that the individual:
(i) pay the current child support obligation in full each month; and
(ii) pays an additional amount as assessed by the office pursuant to Section
62A-11-320 towards the child support arrears.
(c) [If] Except as provided in Subsection (3)(d), if an individual fails to comply with
the payment schedule described in Subsection (3)(b), the office may notify the division and the
individual is considered to be an individual who is delinquent on a child support obligation and
cannot obtain a new license, permit, or tag without complying with this Subsection (3).
(d) If an individual fails to comply with the payment schedule described in Subsection
(3)(b) for one month of the 12-month period because of a transition to new employment, the
individual may obtain a license, permit, or tag and is considered in compliance with this
Subsection (3) if the individual:
(i) provides the office with information regarding the individual's new employer within
30 days from the day on which the missed payment was due;
(ii) pays the missed payment within 30 days from the day on which the missed payment
was due; and
(iii) complies with the payment schedule for all other payments owed for child support
within the 12-month period.
(4) (a) The division or a wildlife license agent may not knowingly issue a license,
permit, or tag under this title to an individual identified by the office as delinquent on a child
77 support obligation until notified by the office that the individual has complied with Subsection
(b) The division is not required to hold or reserve a license, permit, or tag opportunity
withheld from an individual pursuant to Subsection (4)(a) for purposes of reissuance to that
individual upon compliance with Subsection (3).
(c) The division may immediately reissue to another qualified person a license, permit,
or tag opportunity withheld from an individual identified by the office as delinquent on a child support obligation pursuant to Subsection (4)(a).
(5) The office and division shall automate the process for the division or a wildlife
license agent to be notified whether an individual is delinquent on a child support obligation or
has complied with Subsection (3).
(6) The office is responsible to provide any administrative or judicial review required
incident to the division issuing or denying a license, permit, or tag to an individual under
(7) The denial or withholding of a license, permit, or tag under this section is not a
suspension or revocation of license and permit privileges for purposes of:
(a) Section 23-19-9;
(b) Subsection 23-20-4(1); and
(c) Section 23-25-6.
(8) This section does not modify a court action to withhold, suspend, or revoke a
recreational license under Sections 62A-11-107 and 78B-6-315.
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