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How is child support calculated in Ohio?

Posted by attorney Craig Sams

Under Ohio law, child support is calculated based on guidelines established by the Department of Job and Family Services. The court awards child support according to amount provided by the Child Support Calculation Worksheet, which is designed to ensure consistency of child support orders as well as to make the calculation process more efficient. This Worksheet considers each parent’s income and expenses in proportion to the income and expenses of the other parent. Income is considered from a variety of recurring sources including wages, self-employment earnings, unemployment or other social service benefits, and retirement and pensions. Expenses include medical and healthcare expenses, childcare, taxes and other work or child-related expenses.

The Child Support Calculation Worksheet will produce a specific amount that represents the child support payable to the other parent; however, courts do have discretion to deviate from this amount. In order to deviate from the guidelines, the court must state its reason for the deviation. In addition, any deviation must be because the child support guidelines are unfair to one parent, inappropriate, or the amount ordered would not be in the best interests of the child[ren]. A common reason for deviation is when the parent ordered to pay child support has been awarded parenting time in excess of the standard parenting order for the county in which the matter is heard.

Other common child support issues are paternity and imputed income. There is a presumption of paternity when a child is born during a marriage, however, this presumption can be challenged with a court-ordered paternity test. In addition, there is no requirement for the parents to be, or ever have been, married, nor can the parent ordered to pay waive their parental rights and escape a child support obligation. In the event that a parent is unemployed or “underemployed," the court may impute income. When a parent is voluntarily unemployed or under employed, or making less than they are capable based on their background, education and experience, the court may assign an income to them for child support calculation purposes.

There are many different ways to enforce child support, including garnishment of wages, funds in bank account or tax returns. If a parent does not make child support payments, they may be arrested, charged with a felony and possibly incarcerated.

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