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Child support for parents whose children have been removed

The issue of child support is well-settled in most Ohio custody cases. Parents have a legal duty to support their children financially until they reach the age of majority (age 18). Because of that, non-custodial parents are commonly ordered to pay support.

But what happens when children are removed from a parent's care? Should support still be ordered? This is an issue that the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court is confronting, especially with temporary removals. Ohio law requires that the issue of support be addressed in all custody matters.

However, many parents who are facing termination proceedings are struggling to maintain minimum wage jobs, complete substance abuse treatment and find stable housing. As such, a minimum support payment (even as low as $50) could be a significant hardship.

Some believe that a mandatory support payment may thwart a parent's ability to be reunited with their children. (Essentially, if the payments are not made, the parent could be held in contempt). Also, some believe that they are viewed differently and that the imposition of support is more of a punishment rather than a continued benefit for the child's welfare.

This is an issue that has no easy answer, and a mandatory payment may take away the discretion that judges need to craft solutions that are appropriate for the particular situation. Because of this, some judges had not been including specific orders on the issue, while others have ordered that temporary support (paid by non-custodial parents) to be directed to other people or entities responsible for caring for the child.

This issue exemplifies the need for parents facing the termination of their parental rights to have legal counsel.

Source: Cleveland.com, Should parents whose children have been taken away pay child support, January 1, 2013

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