How Are Child Support Orders Enforced In The State Of Ohio?

Child support awards are court orders. As such, state law allows for a range of enforcement methods to ensure that parents stay current with their payments.

Family law judges throughout the state of Ohio regularly order child support awards. In general such orders are issued to ensure that both parents bear the financial responsibilities of raising their child. The majority of parents fulfill these court-ordered obligations. However, there are situations in which parents fall behind on their payments.

People may fail to make their child support payments for any number of reasons. In some cases, a change of circumstances may leave parents unable to afford paying their previously ordered amounts. In other situations, parents may be more than able to make their payments, but simply choose not to make them. Regardless of the cause, Ohio state law sets forth a number of methods that may be used to enforce payment of child support awards.

Withholding Of Income

One of the best methods for enforcement of court-ordered child support payments is income withholding. With few exceptions, this method is mandatorily included in all orders, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. For these purposes, income is not only limited to wages and personal earnings. The types of income that may be taken and applied toward child support obligations include the following:

  • Governmental and private retirement benefits
  • Workers' compensation or disability payments
  • Pensions
  • Unemployment compensation benefits
  • Endowments and trust funds of any form
  • Insurance proceeds

Additionally, any other monetary payments may be subject to child support withholdings. This can include annuities and allowances, as well as sick pay.

License Suspensions

Another method that the state may use for the enforcement of child support orders is license suspensions. Parents who fall into arrears on their child support payments may have their driver's licenses suspended. Furthermore, the state may also suspend their professional and recreational licenses. This could include hunting and fishing licenses.

Tax Offset

The intercept of tax refunds is another method allowed by the state to enforce child support payments, according to the Warren County Child Support Enforcement Agency. Under certain circumstances, the Ohio Department of Taxation may be notified that a parent owes past-due support. The Internal Revenue Service may also be notified. In these cases, parents' tax refunds may be intercepted and applied toward the amount they owe.

Legal Action

Child support orders are legal court orders. This means that failing to make payments in accordance with them may be viewed as contempt of court. According to the Clermont County Child Support Enforcement website, this may initiate court proceedings. Parents who are in arrears may be summoned to court and required to explain why they did not make their payments. Depending on the outcome of these proceedings, a parent may be sentenced to prison for periods of one, two or three months.

Furthermore, federal law allows for the prosecution of parents in situations of criminal nonsupport under certain circumstances. In these cases, parents may be subject to fines and mandatory restitution. According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, parents in these cases could also be sentenced to prison for up to six months.

Seeking Legal Counsel

Often, those most impacted in Ohio by parents failing to make their child support payments are the children. Parents who are owed overdue payments may have difficulties providing for all of their child's needs on their own. As such, it may be of benefit for parents in this situation to seek legal counsel and representation. An attorney may be able to help them understand their rights, as well as the steps they can take to pursue enforcement of their child support awards.