Child Support – How to Calculate

At the Law Office of Anthony W. Greco, we understand the stress and the confusion that individuals and families deal with when facing issues related to Child Support issues, whether it is the initial Child Support Order, or a modification of a Child Support  due to a change in the needs of the children or the incomes of the parents.  Whenever addressing the child support issue, whether as a result of a divorce or child born as a result of an unmarried relationship, it is important to have an attorney who has extensive experience in dealing with child support related matters, especially when there are child support issues involving parents with high income, parents who are self employed or when there are parents who are subject to a Shared Parenting Plan.

How To Calculate Child Support In Ohio – In General

In Ohio, child support is calculated using the Ohio Child Support Guideline Worksheet which applies statutory guidelines set forth by the Ohio Revised Code section 3109.021. To read the  full statute click here at  http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3119.022v1.  The basic information going into child support calculations includes each parent’s income, the parent’s work related child care expenses, health insurance premiums incurred for the minor child, each parent’s local income taxes, and whether any other child support or spousal support (alimony) is being paid or received by either parent.

The Ohio Child Support Guideline Worksheet addresses child support for parents who earn a “combined gross income” of $150,000.00 or less. In cases where there are special needs of a minor child, such as extraordinary costs associated with health care issues, extracurricular activities or other child related issues, additional awards of child support may be Ordered.  When addressing these types of issues, the Court has the discretion to deviate (or not strictly follow) the child support guideline amount, either up or down.  In these types of circumstances, the Court must find that the strict application of the guidelines would be unjust or otherwise inappropriate, and not in the child’s best interests.

How To Calculate Child Support In High Income Cases

When calculating child support, the first step a trial court must take is to determine the income’s of the parent’s.  Once each parents’ income is determined, the incomes are combined for purposes of applying the child support guidelines.  If the combined gross income of the parent’s are more than $150,000, then the trial court must determine, on a case-by-case basis, what support amount is in the best interests of the minor child. This is done by looking at various factual and statutory factors including but not limited to the life style the child enjoyed during the marriage or relationship, if any special health care, educational or extracurricular needs of the child exist, as well as, the incomes of the parent’s.  High income child support cases are frequently the subject of contested litigation, as a parent may attempt to obtain additional child support to pay for the parent’s lifestyle, rather than using the higher child support to pay for the needs of the child.  To see the full statute involving high income child support cases click http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3119.04v1.

The “extrapolation method” is where the child support guidelines are applied beyond the $150,000 combined gross income statutory limit found in the child support guidelines. The trial court has the discretion to “fully extrapolate”, “partially extrapolate”  or use whatever other method the court believes will result in a child support Order that is in the best interest of the minor child.  As there is no statutory calculation for child support for “high income” parents, this very broad discretion has resulted in a wide variance in child support Orders, despite similar fact patterns, not only from county to county, but from case to case within the same county.

How to Calculate “Income” For Child Support Cases

When the parent receives W-2 income.  If the parent only receives simple W-2 income, and no employer paid benefits, then the W-2 income is what the court will use as that parent’s income for purposes of child support calculation.  If the parent receives W-2 income and employer paid benefits, then the court may include the value of said employer paid benefits in the parent’s income for purposes of calculation of support.  Some examples of employer paid benefits are car allowance, cell phone and health insurance premiums.  in one case the court included the value of basketball tickets provided to an employee.

When the parent is self-employed.   “Self-generated income” means gross receipts received by a parent from self-employment, proprietorship of a business, joint ownership of a partnership or closely held corporation, and rents.  Once the gross receipts are determined, then subtract from the gross receipts, all ordinary and necessary expenses incurred by the parent in generating the gross receipts.  This may be different than what the IRS Code defines as “ordinary and necessary, as the support definition and the IRS definition are not always the same. “Self-generated income” includes expense reimbursements or in-kind payments received by a parent from self-employment, the operation of a business, or rents, including company cars, free housing, reimbursed meals, and other benefits, if the reimbursements are significant and reduce personal living expenses.

How to Calculate Income When A Parent Is Voluntarily Unemployed or Voluntarily Underemployed

When a parent chooses to quit their job, or chooses not work up to their full potential, the court can “impute” income, or assign a parent income, for purposes of calculating support, regardless of what the parent is actually earning.  It is important to note that even if a parent is working 40 hours per week, that parent can be found to be voluntarily underemployed, if the parent has been routinely working more hours per week over an extended period of time, and voluntarily chose to work less hours.

When trying to determine the amount of imputed income, the Ohio Revised Code defines “Potential income” as income the parent would have earned if fully employed.  IN determining the actual amount, the court must weigh the following criteria:

The parent’s prior employment experience, the parent’s education, the parent’s physical and mental disabilities, if any, the availability of employment in the geographic area in which the parent resides, the prevailing wage and salary levels in the geographic area in which the parent resides, the parent’s special skills and training, whether there is evidence that the parent has the ability to earn the imputed income, the age and special needs of the child for whom child support is being calculated under this section, the parent’s increased earning capacity because of experience, the parent’s decreased earning capacity because of a felony conviction, and any other relevant factor.

In determining the imputed amount of income, a vocational evaluation expert is often utilized to assist the court in assessment of the above-referenced criteria.

The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco is committed to providing each and every Client with professional, aggressive and practical representation, while being sensitive to the Client’s unique concerns and goals. With more than 23 years of experience, our firm is equipped to deal with all issues involved in child support matters. From the complex, self employed parent, high child support cases, to a simple and straight forward agreement to deviate child support to an amount that the parents agree is fair, The Law Office of Anthony Greco is prepared to aggressively represent its Clients’ concerns and interests from the first day of representation through trial.

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