How Is Child Support Calculated?
Ensuring that child support is calculated accurately and fairly should be a concern of both parents. Several factors may increase or reduce a child support obligation, thus it is essential that you have an experienced family law attorney advise you on how child support is calculated and what factors may impact the support obligation.
In the State of Ohio, child support is calculated based on guidelines established by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Universally in Ohio, the child support amount is calculated by the Child Support Computation Worksheet. The worksheet for sole residential parent or shared parenting situations is found in O.R.C. Section 3119.022. The worksheet for split parental rights can be found in O.R.C. Section 3119.023.
The Child Support Calculation Worksheet compares the income and expense information from each parent. Income consists of wages, spousal support, commissions (usually averaged over three years), self-employment, unemployment, disability, workers’ compensation, and interest and dividends. Expenses include medical and healthcare expenses, spousal support, costs of certain other biological children, income taxes, and some employer required expenses.
Upon completion of the Child Support Computation Worksheet, a statutorily “fair” support figure will be set from one parent to the other. Generally, this number will be used by the court. However, the court does have discretion to deviate from the “guideline” support number. Factors considered when deviating from the guideline support number are found in O.R.C. 3119.23. Typically, the most common deviations occur when the non-custodial parent or non-residential parent has parenting time close to equal as the other parent. Ultimately, the court must find that a deviation is in the best interests of the child or children.
Another child support issue that often arises when one parent is unemployed or underemployed. This typically occurs when the court finds that a parent is capable of earning more because of their education, possession of certain skills, earnings history, etc. Further, if a parent is just voluntarily unemployed without any cause, the court will often impute minimum wage at forty hours a week for said parent.
Having child support calculated correctly from the get go is imperative to avoid additional costs and wasted time to change it in the future. It is further recommended to monitor the other parent’s income to see if a modification is warranted. If you are facing a child support matter or would just like to have your current child support order review, contact one of the experienced family law attorneys at Ernst & Associates today.