Ohio’s New Child Support Statute – March 2019

On 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 Over the past two and a half decades the cost of raising children has gone up, yet Ohio continued to utilize the old, outdated formula.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 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, it must explain why it chose not to do so.

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 possible that you will get a better outcome under the new child support guidelines.