Q: What can be done if child support payments are not made?
All support orders must be secured in one of three ways. Most common is
the wage-order (garnishment of the payor's income source or bank
account). Self-employed persons have bond orders (a requirement to post a
cash bond, which is used if the payor misses a payment. The payee is
paid from the bond, and the payor is then called in to reimburse the
bond fund). A "reporting" order is used for unemployed parents. If a
parent is not working at the time the child support order is issued by
the court, then that parent is required to report regularly to state
what he or she is doing to find work, and to report any income received
or job obtained.
Any person involved in a support order has a
support officer at the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). Without
cost, the CSEA officer will attempt to enforce a support order by filing
contempt motions on behalf of the payee and by garnishing wages or bank
Certain sources of income can be usurped by the CSEA
agency to meet past due support. For example, any tax refund, company
bonus or similar lump sum of money received by a delinquent payor can be
taken to pay overdue child support.
There are "teeth" in the law
thath prohibit renewal of certain licenses for those who are delinquent
in paying their child support obligations. For instance, recreational,
professional and drivers' licenses may not be renewed if a
license-holder owes delinquent child support.
Q: May one parent prevent a child from seeing a parent who doesn't pay child support?
No. A parent who deliberately denies court-ordered parenting
time rights may be considered in contempt of court, which is punishable
by a jail sentence, a fine, attorney fees and court costs. Also, if the
parent who is denied parenting time seeks a change of custody, the
custodial parent's deliberate withholding of parenting time rights may
be an important factor to the court in deciding who will receive
custody. Depriving a parent of time with a child is not one of the ways
to get legal help in collecting child support.
Q: May a parent whose rights of parenting time are denied withhold child support from the custodial parent?
No. In the same way that a custodial parent may not deliberately
disobey court-ordered parenting time rights in order to attempt to
collect child support from a non-paying parent, the non-custodial parent
also may not willfully disobey a child support order. Withholding
support payments may be considered contempt of court, which is
punishable by a jail sentence, fines, attorney fees and court costs.
Also, if the parent who withholds child support seeks custody, the
deliberate non-payment of support may become an important factor in
deciding that issue. The law provides remedies for denial or
interference with parenting time. Depriving a child of support is not
one of them.
Q: How do I locate an absent parent?
Federal law provides that the local child support enforcement agency
may use the federal parent locator service, and state laws may allow the
use of certain state agency records.
This "Law You Can Use" consumer legal
information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Pamela MacAdams, an attorney with the Cleveland
firm of Morganstern, MacAdams & DeVito Co., L.P.A., and a member of
the Family Matters Committee of the Ohio Judicial Conference.