With so many laws in place protecting children, you would think that officials would take care not to mistakenly penalize a single mom for homeschooling a daughter with special needs.

But in 2020 I found myself yet again in Ohio, advocating for just such a member who was at risk of losing child support because of a bureaucratic error.

Veteran Homeschoolers

The mother is a longtime homeschooler who had graduated several students.

Our member received child support from her children’s father—which, under Ohio law, typically ends on a child’s 18th birthday. However, if the child remains in school, the support is extended until the child turns 19.

At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. In this case, the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) stopped passing the support on to our member when her daughter turned 18.

This is not the first time we have run into this problem with Ohio’s CSEA; we had to defend members’ homeschool programs in 2010 and 2015.

Explaining the Law

When Home School Legal Defense Association objected, the CSEA said it would be happy to release the funds—as soon as it got a judge’s order. So I filed a brief explaining to the court that Ohio law is clear: a child still being homeschooled should receive child support after her 18th birthday.

I represented our member at a hearing in family court, where I presented proof that the homeschool program was in full compliance with the law. Our member described the work she did with her daughter, customizing the homeschool curriculum to accommodate her needs. The father’s attorney argued that the homeschool program was a “sham.”

But less than a month later, the court issued a ruling agreeing with our member that the father “should continue to support the minor child beyond her age of majority . . .” and ordering CSEA to immediately release the money it had been collecting from the father since the homeschool student turned 18.

I was pleased to help ease a financial burden for a mom who is simply trying to do what is best for her children. It’s all part of what we do to make homeschooling possible.