Q&A on child-support laws in state of Ohio


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 accounts.

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 now “teeth” in the law which prohibit renewal of certain licenses for those who are delinquent in paying their child support obligations. For instance, recreational, professional and drivers’ licences cannot be renewed if a license-holder owes delinquent child support.

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.

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 article 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.

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  1. Elaine Crawford says:

    Is there a new law in Ohio that says the custodial parent can have the non thrown in jail for back child support and have a felony charge put on their record? My daughter has a mentally abusive ex who finagled custody of their daughter from her and is now telling her there is a new law stating he can just have her thrown in jail like that(snap).


    • Dear Elaine,
      You would have to address that question with a practicing attorney. Someone at Northeast Ohio Legal Services might be able to help you with that question. Their phone number is 330-744-1071. Good luck.

      Mark C. Peyko
      Metro Monthly Publisher


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