Child support is meant to ensure that children of divorced or unmarried parents do not do suffer financially because their parents do not live under the same roof. In Ohio, determining how much the noncustodial parent must pay is determined by the state Child Support Guidelines, a formula that includes factors like the number of children, the parents’ income, and the costs of health insurance and work-related child care.
The guidelines are not set in stone, and courts have the authority to order payments that are higher or lower than the standard obligation. Still, often the noncustodial parent fails to pay. Whether due to an inability to pay or unwillingness to live up to his or her obligations, unpaid child support can put the kids in financial peril.
State law allows parents who fall far enough behind on their child support payments to be put in jail. However, many observers believe that punishment like incarceration is counter-productive. Instead, they point to programs like one in Franklin County that encourage parents to get help so they can afford their payments.
The Compass Program is a collaboration between a Franklin County judge and the county Child Support Enforcement Division. They created “an army of social agencies and employers” dedicated to helping parents who owe child support find work. The program provides job training, opportunities to finish high school, and substance abuse treatment, among other things.
It is unclear from a story by WBNS-TV how effective the Compass Program has been so far.
A parent who is seeking help getting their children’s other parent to pay child support, or who needs the obligation to be reduced, should consult with an attorney.