April 18, 2014

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Ford bonuses could go to child support for those who are behind

AVON LAKE — Not all Ford Motor Co. workers will see the $8,300 profit-sharing checks the company will hand out in March.

Those who have fallen behind in child-support payments will see their windfall reduced by what they owe in arrearages, according to Ann Eckstein, administrator of the Lorain County Child Support Enforcement Agency.

Eckstein said the practice isn’t limited to Ford workers or Lorain County. She said child support agencies around the state collect on bonuses and other one-time payments of more than $150 whenever an employer hands them out under a state law that took effect in the 1990s.

“Probably what the Legislature was trying to do was consider the best interests of the child,” she said.

The agency also intercepts income tax refunds and lottery winnings to cover back child-support payments.

Eckstein said parents who owe child support and have fallen more than 45 days behind in their payments are considered to be in default, which starts an automatic administrative process that allows for the money to be collected.

Workers who are current on their payments will receive their full profit-sharing checks.

She also said that employers are required to notify the agency of one-time payments such as bonuses.

Although Eckstein declined to say how many workers at Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant would see their profit-sharing checks used to cover back child support, she said the agency administers child support orders for about 250 Ford workers. Not all of those workers owe back child support.

“This is going to help with a lot of arrearages,” she said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.