In Ohio, both parents are required to provide financial support to ensure that their child gets the care they need. This applies whether or not the parents were married. In many cases, the custodial parent (the one who has the child the majority of the time) will ask the court to order the noncustodial parent to pay child support. Unfortunately, not all parents will fulfill their legal duties, regardless of whether they have been ordered to do so.
If you are required to make periodic payments to your child's other parent and you willfully fail to do so, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
Legal Remedies Before Criminal Charges
Most likely, prior to charges being filed against you for nonpayment of child support, the custodial parent and/or the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) will seek other legal remedies.
First, if you have been instructed by the court to make child support payments, your child's other parent or the CSEA may go to the court to have it enforce the order. If nonpayment continues, you may be held in contempt of court, which can result in jail time and/or fines.
You may be subject to other administrative sanctions, including, but not limited to:
- Wage garnishment
- Asset/property seizure
- Driver's license suspension
- Professional license suspension
- Passport application denial
If the administrative methods are unsuccessful, criminal prosecution may ensue.
Criminal Charges for Nonpayment of Child Support
If you fail to provide child support – whether or not it's court-ordered – you could be prosecuted under O.R.C. 2919.21 – nonsupport of dependents. Depending on your circumstances, the offense is either a misdemeanor or a felony.
The potential charges and penalties you can face are as follows:
- First-degree misdemeanor: For willfully failing to pay child support.
- Fine of up to $1,000, and/or
- Jail for up to 180 days
- Fifth-degree felony: For having a prior nonsupport of payment conviction, or for failing to pay support for 26 out of 104 consecutive weeks (the 26 weeks do not have to occur consecutively).
- Fine of up to $2,500, and/or
- Imprisonment for up to 12 months
- Fourth-degree felony: For having a previous felony conviction for failing to make child support payments.
- Fine of up to $5,000, and/or
- Imprisonment for up to 18 months
For felony-level offenses, before determining your sentence, the court may consider placing you on community control with a condition that enforces support payments, such as obtaining and maintaining employment.
However, this option might not be available to you if:
- The court decides other penalties are necessary;
- You were previously convicted of a felony under this statute and were sentenced to prison; or
- You were previously convicted of a felony under this statute, were placed on community control, and failed to abide by the conditions
In addition to the penalties listed above, the judge may also order you to pay court costs and attorney's fees.
If you need legal representation in Dayton to fight your criminal charge, call L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC at (937) 685-7006 or contact us online today.