Welcome to The Briefcase

Commentary and analysis of Ohio criminal law and whatever else comes to mind, served with a dash of snark.  Continue Reading »

×

June 2, 2006

Just a short note.  Back in 2000, the legislature amended the law on paternity cases to hold that a father couldn't be held liable for arrearages if the child was over three at the time the paternity action was filed, and the father didn't have any knowledge of the child.  On Wednesday, in Smith v. Smith, the Supreme Court held that the statute couldn't be applied retroactively.


The mother had had the child in 1987, but didn't institute paternity proceedings until ten years later, at which point the newly-proud papa was tagged for $44,000 in arrears.  After the passage of the amendment in 2000, he applied for modification, which the legislature had expressly allowed for in the statute.  The Supreme Court concluded that retroactivity would be unconstitutional, since it would deprive the mother of her "vested right" in the court order.

While the Court specifically addresses the situation where there is an existing order on arrearages, the decision could apply well beyond that:  a fairly good argument could be advanced that the mother has a "vested right" in arrearages if the child was born prior to the passage of the amendment, even if no paternity complaint is filed until after passage.  There's certainly nothing in the language of the decision which would foreclose a broader interpretation of it.

I had a case a little while back concerning laches as a defense to arrearages in paternity cases, and I'll do a post on that next week.

Search

Recent Entries

  • November 15, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    Plea withdrawals (again), sexual predator hearings, and an appellate law question
  • November 7, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    Don't listen to prosecutors about the law, good new/bad news jokes on appeal, and the Byzantine course of a death penalty case
  • October 24, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    Trying to change the past
  • October 16, 2017
    En banc on sentencing
    The 8th District takes a look at what State v. Marcum means
  • October 13, 2017
    Friday Roundup
    Musings about the death penalty and indigent defense
  • October 11, 2017
    Case Update
    SCOTUS starts its new term, and the Ohio Supreme Court hands down two decisions
  • October 10, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    Collaboration by inmates, fun in Juvenile Court, the limits of Creech, and more
  • October 5, 2017
    State v. Thomas
    The Ohio Supreme Court reverses a death penalty conviction
  • October 4, 2017
    Russ' Excellent Adventure
    A juror doesn't like me. Boo-hoo.
  • October 3, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    What not to argue on appeal, waiving counsel, the perils of being a juvenile, and expert witnesses