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Emails Between Public Offices are Available for Release

In the case of Graham v. Lake Cty. Jobs & Family Servs. & Child Support Enforcement Agency, 2023-Ohio-4366, an appellate court held that a non-custodial parent is entitled to a public record, which is a document—unless conformed to an exception—that is held by a public office, from a child support enforcement agency so long as the request is directly connected to the support enforcement program.

In this case, the parent argued that emails concerning the parent that were the subject of the various government entities’ (county, family services, and child support enforcement agency) correspondence were public records and must be disclosed pursuant to Ohio Administrative Code 5101:12-1-20(C)(2)(a)(i), where documents must be produced, upon request, about a non-custodial parent, and where the request is directly connected to the support enforcement program for child support. In response, the government entities argued that the emails requested were not public records because they were child support enforcement case records that were prohibited for release by federal or state law. The appellate court agreed with the parent.

In support of its decision in favor of the parent, the appellate court explained that the emails at issue fall under a public record because in accordance with the revised code, they are documents, regardless of physical form or characteristic, that were created or received by a public office. The appellate court further explained that the parent’s request meets the exception under OAC 5101:12-1-20(C)(2)(a)(i) because the parent was requesting information about a non-custodial parent (himself), and it was directly connected to the support enforcement program because the issue had to do with the garnishment from the parent’s bank account for child support.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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