Behind on child support payments? No hunting or fishing, states Utah bill

◂ BLOG

A new bill passed in the state of Utah is coming into effect on July 1, 2021, which will result in thousands of residents being ineligible to obtain hunting or fishing licenses due to unpaid child support. Notices are being sent out to residents who owe more than $2,500 in child support arrears that they may not “apply for, obtain, or attempt to obtain a license, permit, or tag for hunting or fishing”. According to a State Representative, the true purpose of this new action is not to deny licenses but to enforce compliance with child support obligations. Unless a payor is current on child support or actively making payments towards arrears, they will be denied a permit. 

In Alberta, there are already programs in place that enforce payment of child and spousal support, but there are certain requirements that must be met first. Alberta utilizes the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) to collect and enforce payments of child support, spousal support, and partner support. MEP can only enforce a Court Order or a Separation/Divorce Agreement. The Court Order or Agreement must clearly state the parties, how much support is to be paid, the nature of the support, and when payments are to be made. 

In the event of a default in payment by the payor, MEP can issue a support deduction notice, which requires the payor of support to pay all the money owing to the recipient at the time the notice comes into effect, as well as all the money that becomes payable while the notice is in effect. A support deduction notice can garnish up to 40% of the payor’s wages directly from their employer. If support is not being paid and the payor has not made payment arrangements with MEP already, MEP can take several actions against the payor, including registering against real property (homes buildings, and land), suspending driver’s licenses, seizing assets, as well as restricting hunting and fishing licenses like in Utah. MEP is also able to issue a support deduction notice with respect to the payor’s retirement savings entitlement and enforce support deduction notices originating from a competent authority in a jurisdiction outside of Alberta. 

The Utah bill, just like Alberta’s MEP, is met with mixed reviews. Several recipients are starting to receive child support payments for the first time due to the enactment of this bill. However, there are those who do not believe in child support as a concept and are unhappy about the consequences of the bill. The state of Utah reports an astounding $400 million in child support arrears and hopes this bill will help the 121,000 Utahn children currently not receiving the support they are entitled to. A similar hunting license rule implemented in Pennsylvania helped bring in over $800,000 of overdue child support in just one month.

In Canada, child support is the inalienable right of the child, and every parent has an obligation to provide support for their child. Payment of child support is mandated by the Divorce Act, the Family Law Act, and the Federal Child Support Guidelines. 

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