The federal government requires every state to implement child support guidelines in order to provide consistent, equitable child support orders. These guidelines vary from state to state, but each state has developed its guidelines based on specific criteria and corresponding numeric calculations.
A majority of the states use an income shares model, which is based on the concept that a child should receive the same level of support as if both parents lived together. Ohio uses the income shares model. Several other states use a percentage of income model, which does not combine both parents' income, but sets support at a percentage of only the noncustodial parent's income.
Child Support Calculations Are Based on Parents' Gross Annual Income
Under Ohio's statute, child support obligations are calculated based on the parents' combined gross annual income. The combined gross income is then applied to a predetermined child support formula to obtain the yearly child support obligation of each parent. Each parent, however, may deduct certain amounts from his or her base gross annual income, which would reduce the parent's financial obligation. These deductions include:
- Exempt income, including supplemental security income and public assistance benefits.
- Child support paid from another relationship or child support.
- Local taxes paid, self-employment FICA, and deductible business expenses.
Instead of using a parent's gross annual income, a court or child enforcement agency may choose to average a parent's earnings over a three-year period. This method is particularly appropriate when a parent's income fluctuates from month-to-month or seasonally.
Child support obligations may also factor "imputed income." Imputed income may be used to determined what a parent would have earned if employed. A court or child enforcement agency may consider the parent's employment experience, education, availability of employment, physical and mental conditions of the parent, and parent's earning capacity.
Applying Ohio's Child Support Calculator
As an example, if the parents' combined annual gross income is $60,000 then the child support obligation for one child would be $8,000 per year. The obligation increases with each additional child. In addition, each parent's child support obligation is proportional to the parent's gross income. Therefore, if the mother's gross income is $40,000 (66.6%) and the father's income is $20,000 (33.3%) then the mother would be responsible for about $5,333 and the father would be responsible for about $2,667 of the yearly obligation.
Administrative Review And Adjustment Process To Change Orders
Either parent may request that a child support be amended to reflect changes in financial condition. Generally, a child support order may be reviewed every 36 months from the date of the last order or of the last review. Obligations under a child support may be increased or decreased. Common reasons for reducing a child a support include unemployment for 30 days or a 30% reduction in gross income continuing for a period of 6 months or longer. Importantly, the reason for unemployment or reduction of income must be through no fault of the parent.
Contact A Cleveland Family Law Attorney
If you have any questions regarding child support obligations, an experienced Ohio child support attorney can help answer your questions. The family law attorneys at Laubacher & Co. have significant experience handling a wide range of family law issues, including child support calculation and payment issues. Contact a Cleveland family law attorney today for a free initial consultation.