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Supreme Court of Ohio Makes Landmark Child Support Decision: Retroactive Arrearage Modification Not Prohibited By Ohio Law

A Columbus Ohio Step-Parent Adoption Attorney Article about child support arrearages and how it can be an issue in Step-Parent Adoption.

On December 11, 2008, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Ohio decided that parties to a support order may modify child support by agreement.  In Byrd v. Knuckles, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that nothing in Ohio Revised Code 3119.83 or 3119.84 prohibits a juvenile court from adjusting an existing arrearage in child support if the parties agree to do so.

In this case, as part of an agreement to consent to a step-parent adoption, the Mother agreed that the Father’s child support arrearage would be reduced by 50%.  After the adoption was completed, the Father attempted to have his child support arrearage reduced pursuant to this agreement, and the Court found that it had no authority to reduce this arrearage under Ohio Law.  This matter was appealed, and then brought before Supreme Court of Ohio.  For a summary of the Ohio Supreme Court’s opinion, click here.

The Supreme Court noted that this decision does not mean that a court MUST accept a parties’ agreement to reduce a prior arrearage, but that a court is not prohibited from doing so pursuant to Ohio Law.  As in this case, this issue is particularly relevant where one party is willing to sign away their legal rights in order to be released from future, and possibly past child support obligations.  For more information on relinquishing parental rights, click below.


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