An Ohio family court judge from Lorain County recently issued a controversial order requiring that a man who is seriously behind on child support payments not have any additional children.
Just last week Judge James Walther issued an order requiring a man from Elyria, OH to not procreate until he has taken steps to financially support his existing children. The case concerns a man who has not paid child support since 2009 for his four children from previous relationships. The man pled guilty, saying that while he doesn’t financially support the kids, he is a great father and is there for them in other ways.
Judge Walther was unsurprisingly not convinced, saying that the nearly $80,000 that the man owes is outrageous. Walther sentenced the deadbeat dad to five years of probation. During the length of that probation the man is not permitted to reproduce unless he can show that he has taken steps to support his existing children. If he does have another child, the man faces a possible year in prison.
Though some have applauded the move as an essential step to hold parents accountable for supporting their children, others have wondered about the constitutionality of Judge Walther’s decision. An Ohio case from 2004 was overturned after a judge issued a similar order. That case was tossed because the state Supreme Court said there was no mechanism in place for the man to regain his right to reproduce.
Surprising to many is that the decision is not without precedent. Just a few months ago a judge in Wisconsin ordered a man not to have another child given that he was unable to take care of the nine he already fathered. Another Wisconsin case involved a judge who ordered a man to not only refrain from reproducing, but to tell all women he meets romantically within three minutes that he’s a convicted felon with unpaid child support.
Some of these cases survived appellate review, which means it’s unclear what will happen in this case. The father has said he intends to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. It’s likely that parents behind on child support payments will be anxiously awaiting news on the outcome of the case.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce and have questions about your rights and options, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Stephan.
Source: “Court to Ohio man: Stop fathering children,” by Evan Bevins, published at MariettaTimes.com.
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