Owner Operators - The Grapevine

Child Support & License Loss


By Wayne Schooling

Most truckers are familiar with the concept of child support, either through situations involving family and friends or through personal experience. The court attempts to insure that the non-custodial parent pays his fair share of the expense of the child. Child support is not dischargeable in bankruptcy and support orders sometimes require that medical care be provided.

Only five states won't suspend your license for delinquent support payments - Nebraska, Missouri, Delaware, Washington and West Virginia. However, two of those - Nebraska and Missouri - have legislation pending that will allow them to revoke your license. More likely than not, the other states will soon be following, as they too are tired of paying for this.

When considering delinquent payments and revocation of license, each state has its own rules. For example, in New York the cut off date is four months. The state can suspend your license by administrative process but only the judicial process can suspend business, professional or occupational licenses.

In New Jersey if the amount totals six months or more of child support, your license is suspended. In New Hampshire it happens at 60 days. Mississippi only gives you 30 days until they suspend your license. Minnesota waits three months but Massachusetts considers each delinquency on a case by case basis.

California is at the head of the class regarding child support with the rest of the nation close behind. If you are behind in your payments nearly every court has payment plan options. If you have no intention of meeting your responsibility - then don't worry - you won't need your license once they catch you.

Alimony

There are three types of alimony; (1) temporary support, (2) support alimony and (3) post-degree alimony (rather than just plain alimony). NONE are tax deductible UNLESS it's a COURT ORDER. So don't be a nice guy and volunteer, now it just plain business. Your lawyer or the judge won't tell you but trust me the IRS won't allow the tax deduction unless it is ordered by the court.

Temporary support is paid by the party who can most afford it while the divorce is going on. Divorce proceedings are not quick. Children can complicate matters when there are disagreements. My divorce, for instance, took almost four years and we had no children.

During this lengthy process the court will require a spouse to be supported. Once again, don't volunteer.

The second type, support alimony, is determined after a divorce is granted, A good example is; suppose the wife no longer has the earning capacity in the job market or her work skills have diminished during the time she was a homemaker. The court will provide alimony long enough for her to either go back to school and earn a degree (four years) or attend a trade school to learn a skill to be self-sufficient in the workplace.

The third type is paid on a continuing basis until he or she dies or remarries. The amount of alimony is determined by a number of factors - the age of the parties involved, the educational levels, the length of the marriage, the number of children and other relevant points.

In California, any marriage over 10 years I believe is considered long term and you'll be paying about $1000 a month until she's remarried or dies and that's without any children involved.

Some states even have a fault provision - which is the amount of alimony can be affected by whether or not one of the spouses is guilty of misconduct. Adultery may or may not be included as marital misconduct. If it is, then it is the stick used by the court to administer punishment to the guilty spouse.

States that do consider marital misconduct are Alabama, District of Columbia (Poor Bill Clinton) Florida, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, So Carolina (but not for adultery) Tennessee, Texas (considers the misconduct of the one receiving the alimony) Utah and Virginia.

Neither marital misconduct nor adultery is considered with regards to alimony payments in Arizona, California, Colorado and Montana.

An old saying is, you can get married for $3.00, but it will cost you a whole lot more to get out of it. If you have made a mistake and now face the gauntlet of divorce, follow the advice of a good attorney, one who knows the ins and outs of the legal system and one who knows the unique lifestyle of a trucker's life on the road.

When it comes to divorce, you do not want to be caught asleep at the wheel.

Federal Rules on Hours Still on Hold

If you recall the FMCSA's latest attempt to rewrite the 60-year-old provisions, which govern just how long truck and bus drivers can work, ended in late 2000 when Congress ordered the agency to rework a controversial proposal to curb drivers' hours behind the wheel.

The government still has not developed new hours-of-service rules for truck drivers. In fact, they are on hold until a private contractor completes a study on options. FMCSA would not say when the study (which will examine costs and benefits of several scenarios FMCSA is considering), will be completed. Don't look for anything new on these regulations this year.

Q

I heard if I don't pay child support they can suspend my license. Is this true?


A

This question comes up periodically. The answer is yes, a license can be suspended for non-payment of child support. Many truckers don't realize that the aftermath of divorce can cause you to lose your CDL - and therefore your livelihood. If you don't make the required support payments, the state can (and most likely will) pull your license.