Court: Not paying child support can block adoption protest

Posted at 11:30 AM, Feb 26, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A parent loses the ability to protest a child's adoption by failing to support the child as required by law or a judge's orders, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in the case of a biological father who paid only $200 in a year toward his child's support.

At issue was the refusal of the father to allow his ex-wife's new husband to adopt their child. The couple married in Indiana but the woman moved to Ohio after the divorce and the father returned to his native Kosovo, according to the Supreme Court decision.

The father stayed in contact with the child but paid only $200 in the year preceding the adoption request, the court said. Records show an Indiana judge required the man to pay $85 a week and he owed more than $17,000 at the time of the hearing.

The ex-wife's new husband said the father's failure to meet his child support obligations cost him his ability to protest the adoption, according to Ohio law.

Justice Pat DeWine, writing for the majority, agreed, saying the father's consent wasn't required because he didn't make the payments as ordered and lacked “justifiable cause” for his failure.

Dissenting Justice Sharon Kennedy said that because the father made a payment during the year before the hearing, he retained his right to withhold consent to the adoption.