Monday, May 19, 2014

No More Babies if You Owe Support?

    In September 2012, an Ohio man, Asim Taylor, 36 years old now, pled guilty to four charges of non-payment of child support for his four children and was sentenced to five years of probation.  In January 2013, Taylor agreed and was ordered to pay $1,700 of his $96,000 arrearage by October 16, 2013 or else he would serve 30 days in jail (a process called a “purge”).  Taylor failed to pay the purge amount and was sent to jail.

    The court ordered that Taylor was not to get any other women pregnant until he could support the four children that he already has.  Specifically Taylor was ordered to “make all reasonable efforts to avoid impregnating a woman during community control or until such time that [Taylor] can prove to the court that he is able to provide support for his children he already has and is in fact supporting the children or until a chance in conditions warrant the lifting of this conviction.”

    Taylor appealed this decision arguing that the probation condition that he could not procreate was unreasonable and unconstitutional.  On appeal, the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision but found that they were unable to determine the merits of the sentence.  The record was not adequate for a complete review and to determine the circumstances behind the court’s imposition of probation.  Taylor pled guilty so there was no trial record and the sentencing record was minimal.  The trial court was to determine probation conditions with reference to the purpose of probation and the circumstances of the case.  The appellate court was unable to determine, based on the record provided, whether the condition was reasonably related to rehabilitation, had a relationship to the crime, and relates to future criminal activity.

There is a duty for parents to support their children. The premise of the Judge's orders appears to be to ensure that Taylor doesn't have more children until he can financially support the children that he has already fathered.  As an order restricting someone's ability to procreate, however, there might be some constitutional issues.  Also, it is unclear how the order would be enforced, or the penalties if violated (if he does, in fact, have another child).  

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