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What is the true definition of a deadbeat parent?

The term deadbeat parent is heard a lot in Ohio. it is often used to refer to fathers who do not pay their child support. However, the legal definition of the term is a bit more involved and takes into consideration more factors. Because this term is derogatory and can be quite damaging to a person, it is important for you to fully understand what it means. 

According to the Huffington Post, a deadbeat parent can be a mom or dad. It does not apply only to fathers, but it is most often used to refer to dads because more of them are paying child support than moms. However, as times are changing and courts are giving both parents the equal opportunity in child custody cases, more mothers could end up having to pay and the term becomes more gender neutral.

Another important facet of the term's legal definition is that the parent is not paying child support because he or she does not want to. It is the willfulness that is important. A parent who is behind on support or not paying because he or she cannot afford to pay is not a deadbeat. It is an essential part of the label that the person is choosing not to pay. This is an important distinction to understand because there are many parents who simply cannot afford to pay their child support due to low incomes or lack of employment.

You should be careful when using the label deadbeat parent. You would never want someone to apply the label to you when you are trying to be a good parent but lack the finances to stay on top of your support. This information is for education and not intended as legal advice. 

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Kroener Hale Law Firm
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