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Jailed dad had due process violated

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a South Carolina man who was sent to jail after he was unable to pay his child support was deprived of his 14th amendment right to due process, according to published reports.

South Carolina law allows law enforcement to jail individuals who do not pay child support without providing them legal counsel. The defendant, Michael Turner, was sentenced to up to 12 months in prison for being unable to meet his child support payment and state courts denied that Turner had a right to a court-appointed attorney even though his liberty was on the line.

However, Turner claims he was never told that his ability to pay child support was the reason for his legal woes and said authorities never provided him with financial disclosures forms or any other means to determine whether he could feasibly meet his child support payments. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that state officials must ensure that hearings are “fundamentally fair” to the person facing possible incarceration.

“Under these circumstances, Turner’s incarceration violated the Due Process Clause,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote.

In addition to South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Maine and Ohio also do not provide counsel for those too poor to afford legal assistance in child support cases.

Ohio Governor signs military child custody bill

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law a child custody bill that will ensure parents who are active in the U.S. military will not have their existing custody order altered solely due to their military service.

The law, sponsored by Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, prohibits a court from finding that past, present or future military service is reason to modify an existing child custody order. The legislation also requires that men or women who are about to enter active service that are seeking a temporary parenting-time order notify the child’s other parent and apply to the court as early as possible.

Under the legislation, the temporary custody order will be canceled within 10 days of notice that active military service has ended.

“The men and women of our armed forces deserve our utmost respect and gratitude,” Rosenberger said in a statement. “I was shocked to learn that, with all of the sacrifices they make for our country, Ohio would not already have this law in the books.”

An emergency measure was included in the bill to ensure the law is in effect for a pending troop deployment of approximately 2,500 members of the Ohio National Guard.

More than 30 states have passed similar laws that secure child custody rights for members of the military. Most recently, Oklahoma passed the legislation in early June.

Lawsuit alleging child support over-payments

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the state of Ohio for allegedly overcollecting on child support payments.

The lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) claims that it has collected $176 million too much from more than 114,000 people who pay child support, according to a release from The American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC).

Michael McCormick, the executive director of ACFC, said that the issue at stake in the lawsuit was important for everyone in Ohio.

“Overzealous and erroneous child support collection efforts affect all citizens. This case is not about parents who don’t, or can’t, pay child support,” he said. “ODJFS is literally taking money it is not entitled to from tens of thousands of good support paying mothers and fathers who could use those funds for food, shelter, and education for their children when they are with them.”

Other issues regarding child support in Ohio have emerged over the years. In 2010 the Columbus Dispatch reported that a single father had $50 deducted from his wages every week for child support, even though his son was living with him.

OH child custody law to protect military rights

Legislation passed by the Ohio House would have an impact on child custody laws as it pertains to military members.

The Hudson Hub Times reports that Substitute House Bill 121 would prevent service members from losing child custody while they are deployed.

Representative Cliff Rosenberger, the main sponsor of the bill, said that he proposed the legislation after hearing from members of the military who lost child custody while serving their country.

“While our men and women are serving our nation, the last thing they should be concerned about is whether they’ll hear from their child,” he told the news source.

Specifically, the bill would bar courts from making permanent decisions about child custody orders already in place based only on the absence of a parent due to military service. Courts would still be able to issue temporary child custody orders in such cases.

There were 54.8 divorces per 100 marriages in Ohio in 2008, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health’s Center for Public Health Statistics and Informatics.