The vast majority of unmarried or divorced parents in Ohio put their children first. For noncustodial parents, this usually means contributing child support to the custodial parent, so that the child’s financial needs are met.

Unfortunately, parents sometimes fall behind on child support. Perhaps they lost their job or are otherwise unable to pay. Or maybe they are trying to get “revenge” on the other parent, or simply are unable to live up their responsibilities for whatever reason.

Parents who are owed back child support may need the help of an attorney to get their money. On the other hand, parents who have fallen behind due to unavoidable constraints may be able to get the order adjusted downward, to a level they can afford.

In extreme cases, tens of thousands of dollars in child support go unpaid. Over in Pennsylvania, one county alone recently announced that the top 10 parents with child support debts owe more than $280,000 to their children. That so few parents and children are involved shows how quickly a child support bill can add up.

A complication in many unpaid support cases is that they are unemployed, self-employed or being paid in cash — any way that gives them the chance to avoid filing an income tax return. It may take an investigation just to find the parent.

Fortunately, most child support cases do not reach this point. If the parents cannot negotiate a fair level of support, the court will consider how much the noncustodial parent should pay.