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Courts and Crime

Who pays when judges remove children from homes?
One Cuyahoga judge is approaching it differently than her peers

Kevin Niedermier
In The Region:

A Cuyahoga County judge is ordering all parents to pay child support when their children are taken away by the state. But not all court officials agree that’s the best course.

Juvenile Judge Kristen Sweeney says Ohio law requires judges to address child support in all cases.  But other Cuyahoga County judges rarely order payments from parents when they remove a child because of neglect or abuse.

Tammy Chapman-Wagner is deputy director of Cuyahoga County’s Children and Family Services.  She agrees with what Sweeney is doing.

CHAPMAN-WAGER on parental responsibilities

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“I think it’s a good thing for parents not to forget that they have a responsibility for their children. They still have rights and responsibilities to support their children, and part of that is to financially take care of their children to the best that they can, whether that’s $10 a month or $100 a month, … whatever they can pay. ”

Chapman-Wagner says the payments help offset the county’s foster care costs.  But opponents say the support orders can slow  re-unification of parents with their children because it’s an added burden on poor families. 

Sweeney and other court officials are discussing ways to make the payments a regular part of most custody cases. Most other Ohio counties consistently include child support in juvenile cases.

Listener Comments:

I absolutely agree with the judge here. The people who have caused the problem should do what they can to offset the tax burden they are causing the rest of us. They should pay their fair share, or as close to it as possible.

Posted by: J. Miller (Madison, OH) on January 4, 2013 9:01AM
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