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High court sanctions novel way to enforce child support

Minnesota has joined other aggressive states in making it harder and harder for dead-beat dads -- and mothers for that matter.

When anybody is delinquent in the payment of child support, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that it is constitutional for the state to take away their drivers' licenses.

This is very bad news for one of the protagonists in the important suit, a truck driver who has consistently claimed that his $27,000 in child support arrearage is directly attributable to the suspension of his commercial driver's license. No license -- no job. Under the statute, officials can suspend a driver's license of anyone who is three months behind in child-support payments.

There may be some obvious common sense arguments against lifting drivers' licenses of delinquent parents, but the arguments against were presented to the court on U.S. constitutional grounds, always a tough road to travel.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals easily determined that the United States Supreme Court has never held that the right to pursue a particular profession is a fundamental right. Furthermore, it determined that there was a sound connection between withholding a commercial driver's license and the public's interest in coaxing child support payments.

The Court of Appeals also didn't buy the lower court's ruling that the whole scheme of license confiscation was irrational and that the operation of the controversial statute worked more hardship on folks in rural Minnesota where public transportation is scarce.

The latest ruling is just more in the pot for domestic relations attorneys to stir and blend in creative ways. These legal experts work hard to see that the support awarded is fair to both sides, while meeting the needs of the children.

Source:  MPR News, "Court: State may strip driver's license of people delinquent on child support" Bob Collins, May. 08, 2013

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