Child Support

What is Child Support?

Child support refers to the legal obligation of parents to contribute to the economic maintenance, including education, of their children; enforceable in both civil and criminal contexts. In a dissolution or custody action, money paid by one parent to another toward the expenses of children of the marriage. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1979, West Publishing Co.)

Non-support is the failure or neglect unreasonably to support those to whom an obligation of support is due; e.g. duty of parents to support children. Such failure to support is a criminal offense in most states. Non-support of a child is a parent’s failure, neglect or refusal without lawful excuse to provide for the support and maintenance of his or her child in necessitous circumstances. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1979, West Publishing Co.)

Who Has the Duty to Pay Child Support?

According to Ohio law, a biological parent of a child, and adoptive parent, a parent who acknowledged paternity on a child’s birth certificate or a parent who acknowledged paternity in probate court has a duty to pay child support. This is in addition to the parental duty of support imposed upon married persons by Ohio law.

Calculation of Child Support in Ohio:

In all matters in which child support is ordered or modified, the court is required, by law, to calculate the amount of support in accordance with current child support guidelines, as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code. The court must use specific worksheets to calculate the child support obligation. The child support guideline schedules are presumed to be the proper amount of child support to be paid unless both of the following conditions are found to be applicable by the court:

  1. After the court considers certain statutory factors and criteria that are reasons for the court to deviate from the guideline amounts, the court determines that the guideline amount is unjust, inappropriate and would not be in the best interests of the child; and
  2. The court, after entering the amount of the child support calculated pursuant the guidelines, then issues specific findings of fact to support the determination that the amount would be unjust, inappropriate and would not be in the best interests of the child.

There are two basic child support worksheets:

  1. Child Support Worksheet for Sole Residential Parent or Shared Parenting Order.
  2. Child Support Worksheet for Split Parental Rights and Responsibilities.

Can the Amount of Child Support be Adjusted at a Later Date?

Yes. Child support is always modifiable if a material change in the circumstances occurs for the child or the parent. The court must decide if a change of circumstances exists and, if so, the court must determine the proper amount of the new support order.

When considering a motion for modification of child support, the court must recalculate the amount of support using the child support worksheet and the child support guidelines. If the recalculated amount is more than ten percent different than the amount of child support that is required to be paid per the existing child support order, then the court will likely modify the support order.

How does the Court Assure the Payment of Child Support?

In any case involving a child support order, a “withholding order” must be made. A withholding order generally requires the employer of the person obligated to pay the child support (the “obligor”) to withhold the ordered amount from the paycheck of the obligor and to pay that amount directly to the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). The employer is also required to notify the CSEA of any benefit the obligor is to receive and any lump-sum payment of any kind that is $500.00 or more. If the employer fails to comply, the employer is liable for any support payment not made as a result of the non-compliance.

If the obligor is self-employed or unemployed, the court may issue an order requiring the obligor to post a cash bond with the court, conditioned on the obligor making payments as previously ordered.

If the obligor is receiving worker’s compensation payments, the court may require the bureau of workers’ compensation to withhold a specified amount from the obligor’s worker’s compensation payments.

Similarly, if the obligor is receiving retirement benefits, the court may require the entity paying the benefits to withhold a specified amount from the obligor’s pension benefits for support.

What if the Obligor Doesn’t Pay?

If the obligor doesn’t pay as required, he or she can be found in contempt of court and even jailed. The obligor may be ordered to pay the costs of the contempt proceedings including attorney fees.

If the obligor continues to defy the court order by not making the required payments, in Ohio it could ultimately result in a felony indictment and a prison sentence.

Termination of Child Support:

The child support obligation will generally terminate upon the happening of any of the following events:

  • Child reaches age of majority and no longer attends an accredited high school on a full-time basis
  • Child’s death
  • Child’s marriage
  • Child’s emancipation
  • Child’s enlistment in the armed services
  • Child’s deportation
  • Change of legal custody of the child

Health Insurance:

In addition to child support orders, the court is also required to order that one or both parents provide for the health care needs of the child. Either parent or both parents may be required to pay any amounts not covered by health insurance.

The expected cost of ordinary and reasonable medical and dental expenses are already built into the child support guidelines. The court will make a separate order with regard to who must pay the costs of extraordinary medical and dental expenses.

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