How is child support determined in Ohio by the court?
Child support is calculated by following the basic guideline child support schedule, which considers the combined gross annual income of the parents and the number of children the court is ordering support for.
What is included in a parent’s gross income for the purposes of calculating child support?
Gross income includes all income from all sources including sources such as salaries, wages, overtime pay, bonuses, commissions, royalties, tips, rents, dividends, severance pay, pensions, trust income, social security benefits, disability benefits and worker’s compensation benefits.
Is there an occasion when no child support is ordered because the obligor cannot afford it?
Yes. If the combined gross income of both parents is less than $6,000 per year, the court will determine the amount of child support on a case-by-case basis. The court will review the obligor’s gross income and living expenses to determine the maximum amount of child support that can be ordered without denying the obligor the means for self-support at a miminum subsistence level, with such little income, obligor may prove that he is totally unable to pay child support. However, that does not mean the obligor may just quit his job. He would have to prove that he was incapable of earning more income.
Do the child support guideline calculations keep going higher as the obligor earns more money?
Not necessarily. Child support guidelines stop calculating at $150,000. Therefore, if the combined gross income of both parents is greater than $150,000 per year, the court shall determine the amount of the obligor’s child support obligation on a case-by-case basis and shall consider the needs and the standard of living of the parents and the children, who are the subject of the order. If the obligor, for instance, is earning $200,000 per year, he might only pay support as if he learned the lesser amount.
How does a parent prove the standard of living for the children?
This is where the law has recently changed. It used to be that the obligor had the burden to prove that it was not in the children’s best interest to pay more support. This was a difficult hurdle. Now, it is the obligee’s burden to show that children have an established standard of living, which would require the obligor to pay more in child support. The parent receiving the child support would have to prove that the children have always had amenities like expensive vacations, cars, and cell phones, and should be allowed more money to maintain this standard of living.
What happens if the parents divorce when the children are very young and the obligor of child support starts earning substantially more money later when the children are in junior high or high school?
It would be more difficult now for the obligee parent to prove a pattern of amenities if such a pattern never existed. For example, why do the children need the expensive standard of living when they never had it in the past?