November 13, 2000

FURTHER INFORMATION: Lisa Gallon (615) 313-4728 or Bill Duffey (615) 313-4880




NASHVILLE-- The Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) and local child support offices have taken steps to revoke the driverís licenses of 1,372 people who collectively owe more than $13 million in past due child support. The past due amounts range from about $515 to more than $108,000.

The action was taken earlier today after the individuals failed to pay the debts in full, make arrangements to pay, or contest the delinquent amount by filing an appeal within 20 days of receiving warning letters that were sent by certified mail.

"We warned delinquent parents to expect this action if their child support payments were not current. The lack of child support is one of the major reasons single parents and their children must rely on public assistance programs," state Human Services Commissioner Natasha Metcalf said. "It is not fair to the children, and it is not fair to taxpayers when parents do not support their children financially and emotionally."

State officials say this is the largest single group of delinquent parents to face license revocation since the state began this process in 1996.

In September, DHS mailed notices to almost 11,000 delinquent parents. Many, including the 22 people who faced revocation of a professional license, contacted the local child support offices and paid the delinquent amount, made arrangements to pay, or did not sign for the certified letter. The people who did not respond after receiving their notice are those whose names have been submitted to the Tennessee Department of Safety for revocation. Approximately 96 people hold commercial driverís licenses.

"We have been working with the Department of Human Services and are fully prepared to revoke the licenses of these delinquent parents," state Safety Commissioner Mike Greene said. "Itís unfortunate that it takes this sort of action to get their attention, but itís even more unfortunate that their children be made to suffer because these parents fail to meet their legal responsibilities."

Delinquent parents, who have driverís, professional licenses, or hunting and fishing licenses can face license revocation as a result of the state legislation passed and signed into law by Gov. Don Sundquist in 1996. Officials say any parent who owes at least $500 that is 90 days or more past due could face license revocation.

All of the names submitted are from the files of local child support offices operated by juvenile courts, district attorneys, and private companies who reviewed and researched the cases to determine if they met the criteria as stipulated by state and federal laws.

Once receipts for the certified notices were returned and entered into the stateís child support computer system, a special computer program generated a report that was sent to the appropriate state-licensing agency.

No hunting or fishing licenses matched the delinquent child support list. As a result, none of those licenses will be revoked during this round according to DHS officials.

Those targeted for revocation of driverís licenses live or have lived throughout the state. According to officials 407 of the licenses revoked were for people with Shelby County addresses; 140 were for people with Hamilton County addresses; 81 were for Knox County addresses; 57 were Madison County; 40 were Davidson County; and 21 were Sullivan County.

Since the law passed, almost 1,300 drivers and professional licenses have been revoked for delinquent child support.

Tennesseeís Child Support program is administered by the Department of Human Services. Custodial parents routinely contact the local child support offices for assistance with establishing paternity, establishing child support orders, locating absent parents, and collecting child support payments. There is not a charge for these services that are provided locally through contracts with district attorneyís offices, juvenile courts, and private agencies.

For more information on the child support license revocation process, contact the local child support offices.

Editorís Note: For a complete listing of local child support contractors and phone numbers, please call the DHS Communications Unit at (615) 313-4707 and one can be faxed to your news desk.