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Melissa A. Featherston

Judge gets creative in criminal child support case

When a person in Missouri has a child, he or she has many obligations to that child. One of these obligations is financial support, which helps to maintain the child's emotional and physical well-being. A person who fails to fulfil their financial obligation for the benefit of their child can face serious consequences. In some cases, a person can end up facing criminal charges related to missing court-ordered child support payments. For example, in one recent out-of-state case, a man was ordered not to have any more children as part of his probation.

The man pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to failure to pay approximately $100,000 in child support to his four children. In Jan. 2013, a judge ordered that he could not have any more children as part of his probation. If he pays what he is owed, the order will be lifted. A similar ruling by a different judge was overruled in 2004 because it did not include a provision to lift the procreation order.

The 2013 order has since been upheld by a district appeals court, and the Ohio Supreme has recently decided not to hear the case. It provided no explanation for its decision. The judge who issued the latest procreation order has said that he has not used a similar order before but may choose to use it again in the future. While the man claims that the order infringes upon his rights, the appeals court noted that several other courts, including the Wisconsin Supreme Court, upheld orders that were similar in nature.

While the judge's order in this child support case may seem unusual, it serves to demonstrate the importance that many states, including Missouri, place on providing financially for a child.  While this may be an extreme case, several enforcement options are available if court-ordered child support is not paid, including wage garnishment. If someone experiences a significant change of circumstances that inhibits his or her ability to make such payments, these issues must be raised with the court by means of a formal petition to lower court-ordered payments.

Source: The Chronicle-Telegram, "Elyria man still barred from having children until child support paid", Brad Dicken, Oct. 16, 2014

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