An Ohio judge made headlines in family law circles across the nation back in January 2013, when he ordered a rather unorthodox probation condition for a man whose child support arrears approached close to $100,000.
According to sources, the then 35-year-old man owed $96,115 in back child support for his four children and appeared in court for sentencing after pleading guilty to the criminal charges against him.
Framing it as a “matter of common sense and personal responsibility,” the presiding judge proceeded to order the man not to have any more children while on probation for five years and indicated that his failure to abide by this condition would result in up to a year in prison.
“I put this condition on for one reason and one reason alone,” said the judge. “It’s your personal responsibility to pay for these kids.”
The man’s attorney immediately challenged the so-called anti-procreation order on the grounds that it not only violated his client’s constitutional rights, but was also overly broad in that it had failed to include a way for him to escape from under it in the event of his compliance with child support obligations.
Recognizing that the Ohio Supreme Court had overturned a similar order back in 2004 for failing to include just such an escape mechanism, the judge included a provision in his anti-procreation order stating that the ban would be lifted if evidence was presented to the court showing that the man was indeed fulfilling his financial responsibilities to his children.
The man’s attorney appealed the matter to the 9th District Court of Appeals, which issued its decision on the matter earlier this week.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the appellate court upheld the anti-procreation order. However, the decision to uphold it wasn’t predicated on any sort of legal analysis, but rather on the lack of a copy of the man’s presentence report from the county.
“Indeed, we have little to go on other than what the trial court said in its journal entries, which is itself limited,” read the decision. “We therefore have no choice in this case but to presume the regularity of the community control sanctions and to affirm.”
For his part, the judge who issued the anti-procreation order indicated that while he would have preferred to see the case decided on the merits, he would nevertheless interpret the decision as granting him the authority to continue issuing similar orders in child support cases.
The attorney who challenged the anti-procreation hearing expressed surprise at the decision, but vowed to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Stay tuned for updates in this fascinating case …
Whether you are a custodial parent seeking past due support or a noncustodial parent struggling to make payments here in Texas, consider speaking with an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights and your options.
Source: The Chronicle-Telegram, “Appeals court: [Man] can’t have more children until he pays child support,” Brad Dicken, May 13, 2014