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.
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 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.
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.