Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson
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State's options for enforcing child support

Under Ohio law, the presumption on the behalf of every child is that both parents bear a duty of support to the youngster until age 18. This applies whether the adults are married or not. That being the case, the expectation is that both parents will provide financial support in accordance with a formula that reflects the parents' existing combined resources. Potential earning power of each parent might also be a factor.

Very often, support arrangements are reached by the parents' mutual agreement and approval of the courts. Because of this cooperation, fulfilling the obligation tends not to be a problem. But life changes can occur that lead to breaches. If the circumstances stem from the loss of a job or an injury that prevents a parent from being able to meet current obligations, a modification through the court might be possible. If a parent simply abdicates responsibility, enforcement action may be necessary. 

There are many legal options available in this regard. Which one is the most appropriate depends on the situation. By consulting an experienced attorney, it's possible to identify what might best serve your needs. Action then can follow.

This is a brief list of options the state might ask the court to allow to enforce support compliance.

  • Withholding of wages or government benefits
    • Social Security
    • Unemployment
    • Veterans disability
    • Workers' compensation
  • Withholding of the full support amount from wages or unemployment benefits
  • Seizure of pension, trust, annuity or insurance proceeds
  • Seizure of state and/or federal tax refunds

In the event a parent falls into arrears on support, state officials can do the following without going to court:

  • Suspend licenses: Driving, professional and/or recreational
  • Increase wage withholding to cover the shortfall
  • Seize lottery winnings

If more forceful compliance measures are needed, the state can seek to have the parent in breach held in contempt of court. That could lead to jail time and fines. Federal law also provides for criminal prosecution in some cases, resulting in even harsher consequences. 

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