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I am responding to the letter to the editor that appeared in the Empire on April 5. That letter criticized the Child Support Enforcement Division's license suspension program. The letter did not provide an accurate picture of the driver's license suspension process.
It failed to mention that the Alaska Supreme Court in 1998 upheld the statute governing our license suspension program. The Supreme Court ruled the law provides adequate due process through administrative and judicial reviews, and that it is the parents' responsibility to show they are unable to pay support or are in substantial compliance with their child support obligation.
The Alaska child support agency uses the following criteria when identifying cases for driver's license suspension:
The delinquent parent is more than four months behind in monthly support payments, and more than $1,000 in arrears.
The parent is not making payments through a withholding order against wages or unemployment benefits.
The agency makes certain there is no bankruptcy action pending.
Even if a parent is more than $1,000 in arrears, he or she can avoid license suspension by setting up a payment plan with the child support agency. The parent is given at least 210 days to bring the case into substantial compliance or to set up a payment schedule before a driver's license is suspended.
We take extreme caution in suspending licenses and provide parents the opportunity for an in-depth review of their case and to petition for judicial relief before taking any suspension action.
The child support agency takes license suspensions seriously and we do not arbitrarily suspend a license without making every effort to enter into a payment schedule. We use license suspension as a last resort to encourage delinquent parents to provide financial support for their children.
Barbara Miklos Director Child Support Enforcement