Poor Father Incarcerated by the Montgomery Co OH CSEA for not Paying Child Support for his Late Daughter

I attended the Ohio Child Support Guidelines Council 2009 Forum on August 18, 2008 in Hamilton County. I was more than disappointed at the lack of public attendance (considering how well-advertised the forum was) but will save those comments for another article.

The panel consisted of three state-level representatives from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) whom I believed all to be attorneys as well, Dan Cade, Section Chief, Hamilton County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) Legal Department, and finally, a Montgomery County CSEA (Dayton Ohio) Attorney who proudly boasted that she supervised a legal team that prosecuted the father in this article’s headline.

Given that I consider what I describe in this prior blog article to be the most sickening example of twisted, evil, hateful, and perverted “justice” I’ve encountered yet, I was more than elated to have in my presence a Montgomery County CSEA Felony Prosecutor to question. Even better, one who “supervised” the “felony” indictment, prosecution, and incarceration, of a father for failing to pay his child support for his DECEASED daughter. Not once, but TWICE! This Ohio father was grieving the tragic and sudden loss of nearly his entire family, making burial arrangements, and attending their funerals, while simultaneously being harassed and persecuted by the Montgomery County CSEA, and their ‘lead’ prosecutor, sitting less than 30 feet from me in said forum.

I personally spoke with the father involved in this unconscionable case many months ago. He was quiet, meek, and behaved sheepishly. With embarrassment, he admited to having problems supporting the children of multiple support orders, insisted he did the best he could, and was adamant that he did not deserve to be indicted, convicted and imprisoned for failing to support the very daughter whom he loved deeply, and one that he was burying. Understand, that he was caught in the “multiple-support-order” trap. A situation where a father is ordered to pay support to more than one mother, but yet is given no reprieve (as he is entitled to by law) in the amounts he must pay so as to enable him to adequately support all of the children involved.

For instance, it’s analogous to being ordered to pay $1000/mo in child support for one child. Next, you are ordered to pay for a second child, and through a different mother, but with the same salary. Instead of the CSEA ordering you to split the $1000/mo payment (you are presently making to the first mother) between both mothers, they instead order you to pay another $1000/mo in “child support” to the other mother. Now, your monthly child support obligation totals $2000/mo for two children. For some fathers it gets even worse, when their net monthly income amounts to only $1500. It’s simple math, as you can’t pay with what you don’t have.

That’s what happened to the Montgomery County father involved in this case. He was without the financial means to pay what the Montgomery County CSEA demanded of him. His monthly child support obligation was greater than his total monthly income. When that’s the case (as it commonly is) the father involved usually gets indicted for felony criminal non-support of a minor child as this father did.

The reason his case was “complicated” as the CSEA Prosecuting Attorney admitted was because in order for them to have enough “missed payments” to “qualify” this father for a felony indictment, they had to (and subsequently chose to) use the payments he stopped making to the mother of his deceased daughter. Even though the daughter he was ordered to support had passed away, he was still required under Ohio law to continue making her child support payments to the mother. Why? Simply because there was a current valid child support order in place at the time. It doesn’t matter how inappropriate or how morally wrong that child support order may be, if a father cannot afford to pay an attorney (most of these fathers are indigent and therefore cannot) to file a “Motion to Terminate” his now “inappropriate” child support order, he must continue paying it, or be indicted for criminal felony non-support of a minor child, convicted, and incarcerated.

That said, what was “complicated” about this father’s case (as admitted to by that Montgomery County Supervising CSEA Prosecuting Attorney at the Child Support Forum) was that she needed to use this father’s failure to pay his child support on his now-deceased daughter so as to secure a felony conviction against him for his other children that he missed payments on as well, and due to his lack of income. How was he supposed to get to work after the Montgomery County CSEA suspended his driver’s license? What employers would hire him with his previous felony conviction? A felony conviction for not paying child support.

You are right counselor, this case was “very complicated” as you say, but for different reasons I argue. It was complicated because a normal human being with compassion, emotion, and understanding can’t fathom how one such as yourself prosecutes, convicts, and incarcerates a grieving indigent father for not paying child support for his late daughter whom he dearly loved, was grieving, and had just recently buried.

Additionally, it was complicated for you counselor because you had prosecute this case without it appearing as the racially motivated social injustice that is. There are none who have been more demonized, castigated, marginalized and denigrated than poor black fathers. What you’ve done by prosecuting this father is utterly vile, despicable, unconscionable and devoid of normal human decency counselor.

Tony Fantetti
Ohio Council for Fathers Rights
Email: tony.fantetti(at)ocffr(dot)org

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