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Ohio program aims to help delinquent parents pay child support

Paying child support can be a very difficult obligation for some parents. Often, we read about parents who ignore their responsibility or actively avoid making payments for one reason or another. They may do this in protest or as an attempt to punish the other parent.

However, not all parents who fail to make support payments are willfully avoiding court orders to make payments to a custodial parent. The fact is that economic limitations, addictions, disabilities and legal misunderstandings can effectively impact a parent's ability to pay child support. Rather than penalize these parents by putting them in jail, which can further jeopardize their ability to make payments, one judge in Ohio is evidently opting for helping delinquent parents instead of punishing them. 

Reports indicate that the judge is referring eligible parents to a program designed to provide people with job training, housing assistance and basic essentials that might be affecting their ability to make child support payments.

Participants in this Compass program are given these tools as a way to stay in compliance with court orders and develop skills and resources that can help them improve their financial standing. With stable employment, housing and access to health and welfare services, program participants are more able to contribute financially to the well-being of their child.

It might be easy to categorize every non-paying parent as a "deadbeat." But as this program shows us, there are plenty of people who are willing but unable to stay current with payments.

Of course delinquent parents can and should be held accountable for willful violations of a support order. Those who skirt their responsibilities are not only hurting themselves by putting themselves at risk for criminal penalties, but they are also hurting the children whose welfare depends on their financial contributions. Ultimately, it is the children involved who end up suffering the most if a custodial parent is not receiving support payments. 

Whether non-payment is intentional or not, it can be very helpful for parents on either side of a child support agreement to speak with an attorney should there be any issues regarding a parent's ability to pay. Legal resolutions could be available and could be effective in minimizing the damage of non-compliance.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Parents who fail to pay child support get help with job, not jail," Josh Jarman, Aug. 3, 2014

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