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Ohio court rules father's income enhanced by work perks

The custody and support of children go hand in hand when Columbus parents divorce. Ohio ex-spouses resolve these issues either by negotiation and compromise or with a court's help. The focus for child custody and support revolves around what's best for children.

Parental agreements about primary or joint custody, visitations and financial needs can be changed in response to alterations in post-divorce circumstances. Some of the events can be anticipated, like future college expenses, while others can't. A parent with a stable income may agree to support terms that he or she can no longer afford later in life.

A parent who feels child support is unfairly portioned can ask the court to modify an original agreement. Proof that more support is needed or less support should be paid must accompany the request.

The Ohio Supreme Court recently decided the income of a non-custodial father was undervalued. The majority of seven justices agreed the perks the man's employer provided should be counted as income toward child support. The decision supported rulings in lower courts.

Reports said the father asked for lower support payments to reflect a loss of income during the recession. The Medina County man disputed that some employer benefits should be lumped in with his salary in making the determination. All petitioned courts disagreed.

The non-custodial parent was provided a phone, car and auto insurance as part of his job. None of the perks counted in the past toward child support. The justices decided the father's income was increased, because he would otherwise have to buy the perk items with his own money.

Child support changes, which necessitate court backing, often occur at the same time custody issues are in dispute. Minor modifications in child custody arrangements can be worked out between parents, but major changes like an alteration in a child's living arrangements need to be court-approved to be binding.

Source: dispatch.com, "Supreme Court: Job perks could increase child support payments" Darrel Rowland, Oct. 16, 2013

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