Actually, it should be noted that a sole custody award with child support ordered in a divorce is the same thing. The court takes something of great value to a parent, the companionship of his or her own child, and then charges that same parent for it. It is ludicrous, and immoral, but it is the law of the land in all western countries.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — A juvenile court judge’s decision to order child support from parents whose kids are taken away from them has sparked some debate in the court.
While Ohio law says the issue of child support should be addressed in all cases, some say that it could hamper the ultimate goal of reuniting families and that it is unfair that parents who draw a certain judge are treated differently.
For years, judges in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court have not routinely ordered support in those cases.
In some cases, judges have tacked a few sentences onto a custody order saying that any current support be redirected to the person or agency responsible for the child.
“But frankly there’s been a period where we weren’t really addressing it,” said Judge Kristin Sweeney, who has been on the bench since 2005.
A clerk brought the issue to Sweeney’s attention and she and others began exploring — and debating — what to do.
She decided, at least in her court, to try to follow the law. Court officials said that while each judge has discretion on interpreting the law, the conversation on the topic is courtwide and at least one other judge is working to find a way to address the support issue.
Assistant County Prosecutor Joe Young said Sweeney’s decision to have her magistrates order support was met with some resistance.
“There is some philosophical opposition to this by the public defender’s office,” Young said.
Juvenile Public Defender Sam Amata said his office is not opposed to child support directives. But, he said, to have them ordered unevenly across the court is unfair, and absent basic guidelines, they could harm the reunification of some children with their parents, leaving them in county care longer — which will be more costly.
“This was kind of treated as an experiment of sorts,” said Brant DiChiera, the assistant public defender who handling the cases in which support has been ordered. “In fairness to [Sweeney], she can’t force other judges to deal with this issue.”
Sweeney said she thinks it is best to broach the issue of support at a later hearing, when a decision on custody is being made.
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