In this article, Attorney Daniel Gigiano reviews Ohio child support laws. While the first part of the child support calculation is made by using the parents’ income, there are numerous other factors that affect the final child support figure.
When does child support stop? How do you stop paying child support? Does child support stop when a child turns eighteen? Child support terminates or ends in a number of circumstances. Under Ohio law, the child support order should terminate if any of the following occur:
The child is no longer attending high school upon turning eighteen years old.
The child stops attending high school after turning eighteen years old.
The child dies.
The child gets married.
The child becomes emancipated.
The child enlists in the armed services.
The child is deported.
Legal custody of the child changes.
Within twenty days of getting a notice as required by Ohio law, CSEA is required to complete an investigation to determine if child support should terminate.
Private health insurance costs affects the amount of child support paid or received. The parent who pays for the health insurance for the children gets credit for the marginal cost of health insurance in the child support calculation. The marginal cost of health insurance is usually the difference between paying for their own insurance premium and the premium for both the parent and the children. In other words, the parent is only given credit for the cost of insuring the children. The credit is issued by making the other parent contribute to the insurance in the form of an offset in child support equal to that other parent’s share of the total income earned by both parents.
The following illustrates how the marginal cost of health insurance works:
The mother has custody of the children and the father pays child support.
The father makes $60,000 per year, and the mother makes $40,000 per year.
The father has health insurance which costs $400 per month for him and $700 per month for him and the children.
The marginal cost of insurance is $300.00 per month.
The father’s child support would be reduced by 40% of the cost of insurance, which is the mother’s share of the total income ($20,000/$50,000 = 40%).
The father’s reduction in child support is $120.00 per month.
When does a court consider a child support deviation? Normally, child support follows a specific formula as set forth in Ohio law. However, a court may deviate from the usual amount of child support if the court determines guideline child support would be unjust, or inappropriate, or not in the best interests of the child.
Ohio law sets forth a number of reasons for a court to deviate from the guideline child support amount:
1. Special and unusual needs of the children;
2. Extraordinary obligations for minor children or obligations for special needs children who are not stepchildren and who are not offspring from the marriage or relationship that is the basis of the immediate child support determination;
3. Other court-ordered payments;
4. Extended parenting time with the children or extraordinary costs associated with parenting time;
5. The obligor obtaining additional employment after a child support order is issued in order to support a second family;
6. The financial resources and the earning ability of the child;
7. Disparity in income between the parties or households;
8. Benefits that either parent receives from remarriage or sharing living expenses with another person;
9. The amount of federal, state, and local taxes actually paid or estimated to be paid by a parent or both of the parents;
10. Significant in-kind contributions from a parent, including, but not limited to, direct payment for lessons, sports equipment, schooling, or clothing;
11. The relative financial resources, other assets and resources, and needs of each parent;
12. The standard of living and circumstances of each parent and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage continued or had the parents been married;
13. The physical and emotional condition and needs of the child;
14. The need and capacity of the child for an education, and the educational opportunities that would have been available to the child had the circumstances requiring a court order for support not arisen;
15. The responsibility of each parent for the support of others.
In Ohio, any medical insurance provided for children of low-income families by the State of Ohio may have to be reimbursed through child support. Called cash medical support, unless the person paying child support is also low-income, that person will have to pay five percent of their income towards reimbursing the State of Ohio for providing medical insurance for the children. Because that person gets a credit for this on the child support payments, this has the overall effect of reducing the amount of child support received.
Courts impute income for child support, which means the court will determine that you should make a certain amount of income even if you do not. The court does this by considering employment history, education, physical and mental disabilities, availability of employment in the area, typical wages in the area, skills and training, whether the person has the ability to earn the imputed income, the age and special needs of the child, and experience in the field. If a parent voluntarily reduces income or loses a job, that parent’s higher income level will still likely be used. If the income loss or reduction was involuntary and the person cannot easily obtain another job at the same income level, then the court may accept the person’s current income level for child support purposes.
The concept of imputed income is designed to discourage parties from quitting their jobs for the sole purpose of reducing their child support or spousal support payments. It also discourages parties from sabotaging their jobs, or, in other words, engaging in activity that would get them fired. If the court determines that a party has engaged in these types of actions, the court may, under Ohio law, impute the party’s wages from that former job. Ohio child support laws are designed to ensure that children receive the support that they need. A system of laws designed to ensure that parents remain as gainfully employed as they are able fulfills that purpose.
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Courts usually order guideline support, which is the amount of support calculated under the child support guidelines. However, Ohio law requires the court to order a minimum child support order of $50 per month. If the person is not working and receiving needs-based assistance, then, while the arrearages accrue, the obligation to pay child support is suspended as long as the person is complying with a seek-work order. Ohio law also allows the court to order one to pay less than $50 per month or not require any child support if the parent ordered to pay has a medically verified or documented physical or mental disability or institutionalization for mental illness.
Ohio child support laws are designed to ensure that children receive the support that they need. Even when a parent makes very little, that parent still has an obligation to pay child support to support his or her children. While $50.00 per month may not be much, it furthers the policy that some minimal level of support should occur.
If a child’s parents are separated from each other, chances are that a child support order is either in place or can be put in place. Child support may also be ordered when the parents are in divorce, dissolution of marriage, paternity and legal separation cases. A child support award can originate or be modified through the county’s Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA), domestic relations court or juvenile court. In Medina County and Summit County, child support is usually awarded in the Domestic Relations Court, as both counties have moved all of their parentage and/or paternity cases to Domestic Relations Court. However, Wayne County has not moved its parentage and/or paternity cases from juvenile court to domestic relations court. This means paternity cases, along with the child support portions of such cases, are still heard in in Wayne County Juvenile Court. In a divorce, dissolution or post-decree divorce matter in Medina, Summit or Wayne County, child support motions would be filed in that county’s domestic relations court.
Usually, the parent designated as the non-residential parent pays child support. Sometimes, the parent with the greater income pays child support. Sometimes, the parents have the child for nearly equal amounts of time and their incomes are nearly equal, resulting in no child support.
The court or CSEA calculates child support by starting with a large table of combined incomes and number of children that takes up a number of pages in Ohio Revised Code 3119.01 and 3119.021. Ohio law also has a formula that considers local income tax, child or spousal support orders paid or received, daycare costs, and the cost of medical insurance for the child.
For years, some parents did not obtain private insurance when one of the parents could get it for free through the state. In 2008, Ohio child support law started to required the child to be covered by health insurance and for the costs to be addressed through the child support order. If one parent has affordable health insurance, that parent will be ordered to pay for and provide health insurance for the child. The cost of insuring the child, otherwise known as the marginal cost of insurance, will be included in the child support calculation. If that parent does not provide the health insurance or if there is no health insurance to begin with, that parent must pay an extra amount of child support called cash medical support. The purpose of cash medical support is to pay for the uncovered health care costs of a child, whether paid for by the other parent, a public agency. Cash medical support is only charged when private health insurance is not being carried for the child.
Child support payments are made through the Ohio Child Support Payment Central (OCSPC) in Columbus, usually through a wage withholding order. Administration and enforcement is handled through the local CSEA. Medina County orders are handled through the Medina County Child Support Enforcement Agency. Summit County orders are handled through the Summit County Child Support Enforcement Agency. Wayne County orders are handled through the Wayne County Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Child support continues until the child is eighteen years old and no longer attending high school, but not beyond the age of nineteen. If the child has a disability, this time period can be extended.
A parent cannot without parenting time solely because child support is not being paid. A parent cannot stop paying child support if the other parent withholds visitation.