Hunting, Fishing Will Be Forbidden To Utahns Behind On Child Support
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is baiting deadbeat parents with a new law that prohibits them from getting a hunting or fishing license if they don’t stay on top of their child support payments.
“I think that’s a positive message for us to send,” said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. “It’s not that we don’t want hunting and fishing; it’s that we want people paying their child support.”
Weiler sponsored HB197 during the 2020 general session. He said the new law applies to parents who are more than $2,500 behind in child support payments.
“If you’re behind by a lot, all you need to do is agree to a payment plan to start getting caught up and then you can qualify for a license,” Weiler said.
According to Weiler, parents behind on their child support payments can call the Utah Department of Human Services’ Office of Recovery Services to make a payment plan. The hold will then be lifted from their account with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
DWR spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolley pointed to statistics from the Office of Recovery Services showing that nearly half of parents who are behind on child support payments have also owned a hunting or fishing license in the past. However, it is unclear how many of those parents are active customers.
“They basically informed us that about 9,400 of those 19,000 people (behind on child support payments) also have DWR customer IDs,” Jolley said.
The DWR could also take a financial hit if “deadbeat” parents don’t step up.
“The rough estimate of the financial impact to us was also roughly $440,000,” Jolley said.
But at the end of the day, they say Utah’s families are worth the inconvenience.
“I got a lot of angry emails, ‘How dare you even consider?’ but it’s like, ‘How dare you consider not paying your child support?’ — I think that door swings both ways.” Weiler said.
“We want to make sure people are taking care of their families,” Jolley said.
The bill passed last year but was delayed for a year to give parents time to catch up. Also, current licenses are not impacted until they’re up for renewal.
For more information, parents should contact the Utah Department of Human Services, Office of Recovery Services.
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