Category Archives: Child Support

Ohio’s New Child Support Statute – March 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 Over the past two and a half decades the cost of raising children has gone up, yet Ohio continued to utilize the old, outdated formula.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.

Key changes to the Ohio Child Support Law Include:

  • updates to the economic tables, changing the formulas for determining the amounts owed for support based on the parent’s income;
  • increases the $150,000.00 income “cap” that existed in the old law up to $300,000 of combined income for calculating child support using the tables;
  • creates an automatic 10% reduction in the child support amount when the payor has 90 overnights or more in parenting time, and the payor is actually utilizing that parenting time;
  • creates a self-sufficiency reserve for low-income payors, to ensure that they have income to cover their household expenses;
  • Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services must revise the worksheets and manuals once every five years, allowing for adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index;
  • eliminates the “first to file” advantage by provided a standard income deduction per child;
  • for parents with equal parenting time (over 147 overnights), the court is required to explain why it is NOT granting a downward deviation from the child support guideline amount; and
  • limits the amount of child care expenses that can be incorporated into a the child support order, depending on the age of each child and the number of children.

Deviation Under the New Law – Overnights

Under the old law, guideline child support was the standard. If courts wanted to deviate from the standard, evidence had to presented and the court would have to justify any deviation from the guideline child support order in its entry.

Ohio Revised Code § 3119.051 states that courts shall order a ten percent reduction in child support if the parent paying child support has court-ordered parenting time equal to or in excess of ninety overnights per year (25% of the time). This automatic deviation can be eliminated if the parent receiving child support can prove that the other parent has not actually exercised ninety overnights.

Ohio Revised Code § 3119.231 states that courts, at their discretion, may grant deviations above and beyond the automatic ten percent deviation based on ninety overnights or more. If the parent paying child support has one hundred forty-seven overnights per year (40% of the time), or more, then the standard is for a court to grant the automatic ten percent deviation plus an additional deviation. If the court declines to grant an additional deviation, then it must explain why it chose not to do so in an entry,

Deviation Under the New Law – High Income

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.

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.

UPDATES TO THE CHILD SUPPORT STATUTE AS OF MARCH 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.

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.  To read Court’s full opinion see, http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/ohio/third-district-court-of-appeals/14-12-03.pdf?ts=1370459681.

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.

Modify Child Support and Attorney’s Fees.