Hancock County Probate Court Judge Allan Davis, who declared Donald Eugene Miller Jr. dead in 1994, eight years after he vanished from his rental home in Arcadia, told Miller in court Monday the law only allows death rulings to be overturned within three years of the ruling, The Courier, Findlay, Ohio, reported Wednesday.
Miller, 61, who now lives in Fostoria, said his disappearance was due to his alcoholism and losing his job.
"My paycheck was being taken away from me and I had nothing left," he said.
"It kind of went further than I ever expected it to," Miller said. "I just kind of took off, ended up in different places," he said.
Miller said he returned to Ohio in 2005 and learned from his parents that he had been declared dead.
Miller's ex-wife, Robin Miller, said he owed her about $26,000 in overdue child support when she requested he be declared dead in 1994 so she and his children could collect his Social Security payments.
"We've got the obvious here. A man sitting in the courtroom, he appears to be in good health," Davis said.
However, he said the law is clear when it comes to the three-year limit.
"I don't know where that leaves you, but you're still deceased as far as the law is concerned," Davis said.