Category Archives: Child Support

Termination of Child Support and Criminal Contempt

The Facts from Trial

Success on Appeal! The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco successfully reversed a trial court’s ruling involving the termination of child support and holding Mother in criminal contempt.  This appeals case arose out of a post-decree modification and contempt action filed by Father against Mother.  Among its other findings, the trial court retroactively terminated Father’s obligation to pay child support to Mother based upon parental alienation, in addition to sentencing Mother to 30 days in the county jail on a finding of criminal contempt.  After receiving this Order, Mother retained the Law Office of Anthony W. Greco to represent her for the purpose of appealing the trial Court’s decision.

The Ruling to Terminate Child Support

In addition to initiating the appeals process, the Law Office of Anthony W. Greco obtained an Order staying the enforcement of the trial court’s decision during the pendency of the appeal.  On top of the other issues argued by our firm, the Law Office of Anthony W. Greco argued that the Trial Court’s decision was improper as Mother in this case was not provided with adequate notice of the possibility that her child support would be terminated and that she may be found in criminal contempt.  On review, the Court of Appeals agreed with this argument and REVERSED the Trial Court’s decision.

The Court of Appeals stated in their ruling that “[t]he trial court’s sua sponte modification of child support as to [the minor children] fails to meet the due process requirements of notice and opportunity to defend. . .” and, further, that “[t]he trial court erred in summarily punishing [Mother] for criminal contempt without notice and an opportunity for a hearing.”

The Appeals Court held that because Mother was not provided her due process rights, she could not defend herself.  This failure prevented the Trial Court from holding her in criminal contempt, which prevents the order of jail-time for Mother.  Further, the Appeals Court ruled that the lack of notice prevented the Trial Court from issuing their order of termination of child support.

To read the full decision of the Court of Appeals on termination of child support, Click Here.

High Income Child Support — How to Calculate

This case falls under previous Ohio law.  Under this law, there was a $150,000 “cap” on income for purposes of child support calculations.  This meant that those with an income over that “cap”, were subject to further scrutiny by the court.

The Case

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.

Summary

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 would determine on a case-by-case basis.  The court would take 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, click here.

New Updates to the Child Support Statute in March of 2019

As of March 28, 2019, Ohio updated its child support guidelines for the first time in 25 years. Under the original law, passed in 1992, child support was calculated by utilizing a formula that determined how much it should cost to raise a child and dividing that cost between the parents based on their relative incomes. Over the past two and a half decades the cost of raising children has gone up, yet Ohio continued to utilize the old, outdated formula. The main goal of the new law is to calculate support orders based on the current costs of raising a child and utilize common factors to simplify calculations across different families and circumstances.

The new law can have varying effects on a child support order established under the old law, depending on what the combined income of the parents is and, if combined income is over $150,000.00 (the old cap), whether the court utilized “limited” or “extrapolated” guideline in the original child support order.

For those who are paying child support under an order which extrapolated guideline child support due to the parents’ combined income being in excess of $150,000.00, it is likely that you will get a better outcome under the new child support guidelines. Instead of maxing out at $150,000.00, the guidelines are now calculated to $300,000.00 using the tables.

To read more on the new changes, Click Here.

Child Support Modification and Change of Circumstances

The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco successfully defended Father in Appeals Court against Mother’s motion to modify Father’s child support obligation.  The parties had a Shared Parenting Plan where weekly parenting time alternated between the two.  The parties agreed in their Divorce Decree that neither parent would pay child support to the other, as each was responsible for the costs of the child during their parenting time.

However, Mother filed a Motion to Modify Child Support after the divorce had concluded, despite the parties’ earlier agreement.  The Trial Court granted Mother’s motion and ordered Father to pay child support to Mother.  The Trial Court argued it had found a substantial change of circumstances had occurred, justifying the modification.

Must Not “Contemplate” the Change of Circumstances

Upon our appeal, the Court of Appeals ruled a trial court may modify a child support obligation if (1) A substantial change of circumstances has occurred since the time the obligation was imposed and (2) That the substantial change in circumstances was not contemplated at the time the obligation was imposed.

However, the Appeals Court ruled the Trial Court failed to find that the change in circumstances was not contemplated by the parties at the time they agreed to the child support order.  As a result, the Court of Appeals reversed the Trial Court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.

The phrase “not contemplated at the time the obligation was imposed” is extremely case and fact specific.  Whether the parties “contemplated” something can come down to whether or not they thought about, talked about, or knew that the change of circumstances were likely to happen at some point in the future.  In this case, the Appeals Court found this was not present.

Contact Us

Proving the “contemplation” of a change of circumstances requires in depth, and serious consideration of the current realities involved in the case, as well as extensive work to provide proof of either side of the argument.  When one has an issue involving the modification of support, we recommend retaining skilled and experienced counsel.

Attorney Anthony W. Greco has over 25 years experience as an attorney.  Our firm consists of talented divorce and custody attorneys, with significant knowledge of the law surrounding the modification of child support.  Each attorney has had time in a courtroom, fighting for our clients’ interests.  With our “results-oriented” approach, and a focus on our clients’ needs and wants, we have helped many clients get the results they wanted.  Click Here to contact us today and see what sets us apart from other firms.

To read the full Court opinion Click Here.

Modify Child Support in an Agreed Shared Parenting Plan

Attorney Anthony Greco successfully represents a father in the Court of Appeals against a Union County trial Court ruling  which imposed a child support obligation upon the father and ordered him to pay his ex-wife’s attorney’s fees and litigation costs. However, the Third District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court on both issues.

Change of Circumstances Required to Modify Child Support

As to the ex-wife’s motion to modify child support, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that a substantial change of circumstances occurred. The Court of Appeals came to this conclusion because the ex-wife and father maintained the same allocation of parenting time, the child’s needs had not changed, and no evidence in the record demonstrated that the earnings and financial positions of the ex-wife and father had changed. Further, the Court of Appeals held that changes to a shared parenting plan which were voluntarily agreed to by the parties do not constitute a substantial change of circumstances. This is so because such a change was “a change to the parties’ agreement, not their circumstances.”

Attorney’s Fees

Regarding the ex-wife’s award of more than $ 10,000 in attorney’s fees and litigation costs, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees and litigation costs to the ex-wife. The award was an abuse of discretion because the ex-wife failed to request attorney’s fees and litigation costs in her motion to modify child support and failing to so request precludes such an award.

As a result of the trial court’s reversal, the mother was denied both child support and attorney’s fees.  In addition, mother was Ordered to repay all child support that had been paid by father while the Court of Appeals case was pending.

Click Here to read the Court’s full ruling.