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More on Child Support

Treneff Cozza Law, LLC, located in Westerville, Ohio, focuses on the area of Child Support in central Ohio. We also serve clients in Fairfield, Madison, Delaware, Pickaway, Franklin, Ross, and Marion Counties.

Child support is calculated in Ohio by using a statutory schedule based upon the income of the parties, the number of children and other factors. This schedule is commonly referred to as the child support guidelines. There are two statutory child support worksheets. One is captioned as being for a sole residential parent or for a shared parenting order. The second worksheet is for split custody. The sole residential parent worksheet results in a uniform child support award statewide based upon total family income up to $150,000. Family incomes above $150,000 are decided on a per case basis. The incomes of the mother and father are stated on the worksheet, as is a three year average of overtime, bonus and commission income. Self- employment income, excluding ordinary and necessary business expenses, dividends and interest, unemployment compensation, and workers compensation is also included. Income is then reduced by several factors: spousal support paid (including spousal support paid to the other party), court-ordered support for other children (not of the marriage), union dues and work-related deductions, the amount of the federal tax exemptions for children residing with a party (not children of the marriage), and local income tax. These calculations then yield a basic child support amount. This child support number is based upon a table that takes into account the household income and number of children.

The assumption implicit in the table is that a family that has a household income at a specific level will spend a certain amount of that income on each child. The basic child support is divided between the parents on a pro rata basis. The support amount is further refined by taking into account day care costs (less the federal tax credit) and cost of health insurance premiums (the cost of family coverage less the cost of individual coverage for the obligor). The result is a “guideline” or statutory child support award. Generally, unless a deviation factor is present, the statutory amount of child support should be ordered when the parenting relationship is that of a sole residential parent and legal custodian. Child support calculation for shared parenting, even though the worksheet applies, is more complicated.

In calculating child support for shared parenting cases, a common practice is to calculate worksheets for each parent as though each was the sole residential parent and legal custodian and then take into account the parenting time division and other factors. There is no separate child support schedule formula, however, for shared parenting, so the ultimate award, unless it is the statutory amount for one of the parents, will be the result of a Finding of Fact and Conclusion of Law which sets out the reasons for the amount of the award. Certainly, a division of parenting time beyond model parenting time standards, typically an alternating weekend and alternating holiday and vacation schedule, can result in a reduction in support. Likewise, the relative incomes of the parties, unusual costs for the child or children, such as private school or exceptional extracurricular costs, can also affect the outcome. The child support award, then, in shared parenting cases will vary based upon the specific factors present.

The Revised Code also provides certain deviation factors that a court may take into account in a sole residential parent situation. Those factors are: special and unusual needs of the children; extraordinary obligations for the children; other court-ordered payments; extended parenting time or extraordinary costs associated with parenting time; the obligor obtaining additional employment after a support order is issued in order to support a second family; the financial resources and earning ability of the child; disparity in income between the parties or households; benefits that either party receives from remarriage or sharing expenses with another person; the amount of actual federal, state, and local taxes paid by a parent; significant in-kind contributions from a parent, as in payment for lessons, sports equipment, clothing or schooling; the relative financial resources of each parent; the standard of living that each parent and the child would have continued to enjoy if the marriage had continued; the physical and emotional needs of the child; the need and capacity of the child for an education that would have been available to the child had the marriage not ended; and, the responsibility of the parent for the support of others.

The split custody worksheet varies from the sole residential parent/shared worksheet in that it applies in situations where there are two or more children and each parent is the sole residential parent of one or more children. Essentially, the split custody worksheet assumes that both parents would pay child support to the other, and, the difference is netted out. This results in a support order from one parent to the other, usually relatively small.

Child support orders are payable until a child turns age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. Orders can continue up to age 19 if a child is still attending high school on a full time basis. Modifications of child support, like all the issues pertaining to children, may be made so long as the court maintains jurisdiction over a child.

Statutorily, a change of circumstance necessary to cause a modification of child support must be a change of 10% or more in an order. In other words, a 10% change in income alone may not be sufficient for a modification of child support. Modifications may be initiated by either party as a post-decree motion (or in conjunction with a motion for modification of parental rights and responsibilities) or by requesting the county Child Support Enforcement Agency to conduct an administrative review. In any event, the Child Support Enforcement Agency for the county in which the order was issued will conduct an administrative review every three years.

If you have legal concerns regarding child support, contact us today for a consultation.