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Child support enforcement affected by Ohio Supreme Court ruling

For divorced parents in Batavia who have custody of their children, the child support they may be receiving from their ex-spouses may be the only way that they are able to meet their families’ most basic needs. If the parents obligated to provide financial support in these situations stop making payments, the welfare of their exes as well as their children may be seriously hindered. In such cases, the threat of criminal prosecution has been a tool that state agencies have been able to rely on as a method of enforcement. That, however, may be changing in the near future.

While rendering a decision in a recent case involving a Butler County parent that owed more than $68,000 to the mother of his twin daughters, the state Supreme Court ruled that officials could not prosecute him over his arrears due to the fact that the girls had since turned 18 and become emancipated. This ruling lead to the dismissal of several other child support payment cases involving obligors in similar circumstances. State law states that in order to meet the criteria for a felony conviction, one must miss 26 weeks’ worth of payments over a 104-week period. Prosecutors argue that this ruling may essentially encourage obligor parents to stop paying their child support 25 weeks prior to their kids coming of age knowing that they may escape prosecution by doing so.

While state lawmakers have already begun discussing ways to fix the law to accommodate for this ruling, those who may be affected by it may need to look for other methods of enforcement to collect on child support arrears. Understanding what one’s options may be could be much easier if one had an experienced attorney to rely on.

Source: Dayton Daily News “Court ruling has implications for parents owed child support” Callahan, Denise G., Jan. 29, 2017

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