THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF DIVORCE: CHILD SUPPORT
HOW DO THE COURTS DETERMINE INCOME AND EXPENSES
When a couple divorces and they are parents of minor child/ren, child support is always at issue in their case. Ohio Revised Code §3119 governs the calculation of child support. This statute orders that each parent’s gross income must be determined. Gross income includes but is not limited to the following; earned income from any source, social security benefits, workers compensation benefits, veteran’s benefits, spousal support, self-generated income, and potential cash flow from any source.
If one party is not employed then a court may impute income to him or her. Imputed income is based on the earning ability of that party. The court will determine the amount of income to impute based on several factors including, prior employment, education, physical and mental abilities, availability of employment, special skills or trainings, and the age and needs of the minor children.
After a court determines a party’s gross income there are some expenses which are then deducted. These deductions include spousal support, child support for other children, the cost of providing medical insurance for the child/ren, local taxes, and mandatory work-related deductions.
The approved deductions are then subtracted from a party’s gross income to arrive at a net income amount.
HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED
Ohio Courts use a child support worksheet to calculate a child support figure. To get an idea of how child support is calculated you can go here: www.alllaw.com/calculators/childsupport/ohio. A basic child support schedule can be found at http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3119.021v1. This worksheet is only for those parties whose combined gross income is less than $150,000.00. In order to obtain a child support figure for high income parties, a party must demonstrate that the increased amount in in the child/ren’s best interest.
REASONS A CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATION CAN BE DEVIATED
The statute recognizes that in certain circumstances the guideline child support amount is not appropriate and the child support amount should be deviated upward or downward. In order to deviate, a court must find that the guideline amount would be “unjust or inappropriate.” Factors that can be presented include but are not limited to the following; any special or unusual needs of the child/ren, extended parenting time or extraordinary costs associated with parenting time, the disparity in income between the parties or households, benefits that either parent receives from remarriage or shared living expense with another person, and the responsibility of each parent for the support of others. Another common deviation reason is school expenses for private school.
THE IMPACT OF CUSTODY ON CHILD SUPPORT
Custody can play a large role in the determination of child support and the payment of other child related expenses.
When parties have shared parenting, a child support amount will still be issued but additional expenses and other child related costs are handled separately in the shared parenting plan. Many times the costs of these additional expenses are split equally between the parties or are divided relative to the gross income of each party.
When one parent has sole custody, the child support amount includes an estimate of child related expenses but this figure is a complete amount that the obligor is responsible for. For example, if you are the person receiving child support, that amount must be used for any other non-medical expense that arises and the person paying child support cannot be obligated to share in these expenses.
The above is an overview of property division in the State of Ohio. It is not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with Neyra, Mize & Associates. Your own situation should be reviewed and analyzed by an attorney.