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February 10, 2012 – Here’s one of those head scratchers the courts toss out fairly regularly that leaves ordinary citizens wondering just what is going on in the judicial branch of government.  This opinion from the Ohio Supreme Court reverses an appeals court decision and allows a father’s child to be adopted by the mother’s new husband because the court did not think the biological father paid enough child support in the past year. 

M.B.’s parents’ divorced in 2000 in Florida and father Stephen was ordered to pay support at the rate of $1,000 per month.  Apparently he paid this money until February 2007.  Stephen had paid somewhere in excess of $60,000 in support over six plus years.  In December of 2007 he sent his daughter a $125 gift card for Christmas and another $60 gift card for her birthday the following April. 

Later in 2008 mother’s current husband filed papers to adopt M.B. claiming Stephen had abandoned the child because he had not paid support over the past year.  The probate court agreed and allowed step dad to adopt the child.  The appellate court reversed and concluded M.B.’s adoption could not proceed without Stephen’s consent.  The court went on to note:

“Despite the lack of child support payments, Father’s monetary gifts to M.B. evidenced his intent not to
abandon his child…Although not child support pursuant to a judicial decree, those monies served to
provide additional financial support for the benefit of the child.  Accordingly, there was clear and convincing
evidence that Father provided for the maintenance and support of M.B. during the adoption period by
virtue of his two monetary gifts to the child.  Although Father’s total financial contribution to the child’s welfare
was small, the timing of the contributions was thoughtful and clearly evidenced his intent not to abandon the child.”

Sounds good so far, except the Ohio Supreme Court disagreed reversing the appellate court and allowing the adoption.  You can draw your own conclusions, but from where we sit this case just about sums up everything wrong with domestic relations law in America today.  It clearly shows the court’s disdain for fathers and its entrenched thinking that the only thing a father means to a child is a support check.  

 If you had any doubt before, it should be clear at this point that the best interest of a child takes a back seat to the money.  What of M.B. when she comes to learn her daddy has been ‘erased’ by the court?  This case is just one more example of the need for family law reform and why we work for Shared Parenting.