In Ohio, child support is calculated by a formula that has been codified into state law. That formula takes the parent’s gross income and combines them. The formula allows for certain deductions, such as local income tax, child support for other children, or spousal support paid or received. This adjusted gross income is then applied to a chart that calculates the amount of child support required to equalize the costs of raising a child. The paying parent will pay his or her share of the amount to the other parent. There is also an adjustment made for if there is private health insurance being paid for the child or work related childcare. The final figure of the calculation is called the guideline child support and is presumed to be the correct amount of child support.
Is there a way to alter the amount of guideline support?
The guideline child support calculation can be reduced if the court determines that it is not in the child’s best interest after investigating specific circumstances of the case. These factors are called deviation factors. There are 16 deviation factors, one of which allows the court to consider anything relevant to reduce the child support order. Common deviation factors include a consideration of the amount of time the children are spending with each parent, additional costs incurred by a parent for the child, or extraordinary travel expenses. This determination is very subjective to the court’s opinion.The court has the authority to order child support in excess of the guideline. The calculation that determines child support required to raise children only considers income up to $300,000.00 per year. Therefore, if the parents earn a combined income of greater that $300,000.00 the court must determine on a case by case basis whether the guideline amount if appropriate or if the amount should be increased to meet the needs of the children in this case. The court will consider the needs and standard of living of the children subject to this child support order.Courts also address which parent is allowed to claim a child as a dependent for tax purposes in child support orders. Courts will also determine how uncovered medical expenses for children should be split between the parents.
The other parent is refusing to find a job to avoid paying child support. What can I do?
When a parent chooses to quit their job, or chooses not to work at a job that pays what their earning capacity truly is, the court can “impute” income to that parent. This is essentially assigning the parent income for the purpose of calculating child support. When Ohio Revised Code defines potential income as income a parent would have earned if fully employed. In determining the imputed amount, the court will consider:
- Parent’s education
- Special training and skills
- Previous work experience
- Age and special needs of the child
- Employment market in the area
- Any mental or physical disabilities of the parent
- Wage/Salary levels in the area
- Evidence parent can earn the proposed imputed income
- Decreased earning ability because of a felony conviction
- Increased earning ability because of experience
- Other applicable factors.
In determining the imputed income, a vocational expert is often utilized to provide their opinion to the court based on the above criteria. If the court finds that the parent in question is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, the court will most likely order income to be imputed to that parent.