High Income Child Support; How to Calculate

High Income Child Support Case; How to Calculate

When calculating high income 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 parent’s income qualify as high income child support income.  Then the trial court must determine, on a case-by-case basis, what child support amount is in the best interests of the minor child.  This is done by looking at various factors including but not limited to the life style of the child, if any special needs exist and the incomes of the parent’s.  The “extrapolation method” is where the child support guidelines are applied beyond the $150,000. combined gross income number found in the child support guidelines.

On December 21, 2015, the Fourth Appellate Court District upheld the trial court’s ruling in “extrapolating” the child support guidelines and imputing income to a doctor, in Cummin v. Cummin, 2015-Ohio-5482.  In this case the Court of Appeals went through a very detailed analysis of how to calculate child support where the parent’s combined gross incomes are more than $150,000.  Here, the trial court made an initial child support determination when the parties’ divorce was final in 2011. The child support worksheet attached to the original divorce decree indicates that the trial court based the child support on the parties’ actual income, rather than capping their combined income at $150,000 for purposes of calculating child support.  At the time the original divorce decree was issued, the trial court determined the parties’ combined annual income was $306,997.50.  The court used the “extrapolation method” at that time. Three years later, the trial court modified its prior award of child support, once again using the “extrapolation method,” rather than capping the parties’ combined income at $150,000.00. Because Appellant did not object to the trial court’s method of calculating support initially, we conclude it is improper for him to raise that argument for the first time in this current appeal. However, even if this argument is not waived, both statutory and case law indicate that it is within the trial court’s discretion to either cap income at $150,000.00 or use parties’ actual income when crafting a child support order.

In summary, once the trial court properly calculates the combined gross income of the parties, and determines that it is in excess of $150,000., the trial court shall determine on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the needs and standard of living of the children, the amount of child support to be paid.  In that situation, a trial court must find that an award based upon a higher income amount would be unjust, inappropriate or not in the best interests of the child.  It is very important to note the trial court found that because the parties extrapolated child support in prior child support Orders, that the prior agreement for upward extrapolations was used to support the trial court’s upward extrapolation in the present case.

To read the entire case, see  http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/4/2015/2015-Ohio-5482.pdf.

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