Legal Question in Family Law in Ohio

I overpaid my ex wife 12,000 of child support. We had an agreement for it to end by court order due to her owing me alimony refund due to cohabitation. The courts kept sending her child support under original terms. The documents show I have these credits. My ex promised to pay this money back but I have waited 6 years and haven't received any of the money. I am going to have to take her to court.

2 questions. What is statute of limitations for getting child support money returned? And can I sue for interest owed for each year not paid plus any damages? Thanks so much!

Asked on 2/08/24, 9:02 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Eric Willison Eric Eastman Willison

In Ohio, unjust enrichment exists when the plaintiff demonstrates: (1) a benefit to the defendant conferred by the plaintiff; (2) knowledge by the defendant of the benefit; and (3) retention of the benefit by the defendant under circumstances where it would be unjust to do so without payment. Hambleton v. R.G. Barry Corp., 12 Ohio St.3d 179, 183, 465 N.E.2d 1298 (1984). A claim for relief for unjust enrichment must be brought within a six-year limitations period. R.C. 2305.07. So while perhaps the first few payments of the $12,000 might be out of the law's reach, the ones that were made to her during the six year period may still be recoverable.

The problem is that she did not take the amounts from you. Usually, the government removes the money from your account and then gives it to the Court ordered recipient. So the defendant upon which you conferred the money was the government. But they did not retain it. They sent it on to your ex wife. She will argue that she does not fit into the elements of an unjust enrichment claim and the government will argue that it does not fit into the elements of an unjust enrichment claim.

You may have to argue either conversion or negligence. Conversion is the exercise of dominion and control over the property of another in a manner inconsistent with the rights of the true owner. That is a four statute of limitations, but there may be certain qualified immunity defenses that they will have. The government will argue that you gave them the money rather than them exercising dominion and control.

Lastly, there is a negligence claim for relief, but that is two year statute, so you would only get the last third of the payments back if you were successful on that. But the government would argue that your own negligence in not being mindful of when you should have stopped making payments, or if the situation is one where they were taking money out of your account, shutting down that account, would be a defense (in whole or in part) to the action.

There may be other ways of looking at this, so don't take my analysis of it as the one true word.

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Answered on 2/09/24, 4:51 am

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