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July 25, 2021

Hunting, fishing will be forbidden to Utahns behind on child support

A new law that goes into effect Thursday which prohibits parents from getting a hunting or fishing license if they don’t stay on top of their child support payments.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is baiting deadbeat parents with a new law that goes into effect Thursday which 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 was HB197’s Senate sponsor during the 2020 general session. He says the new law applies to parents who are more than $2500 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 Office of Recovery Services, with the Utah Department of Human Services, to make a payment plan. The hold will then be lifted from their account with the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Faith Heaton Jolley, spokesperson for the Division of Wildlife Resources, 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 ID’s,” Heaton Jolley said.

The Division of Wildlife Resources 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,” Heaton 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,” Heaton 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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