Written by attorney Lee Alan Thompson

Shared Parenting and Child Support

Many people come into the office believing if the parents have shared parenting there is no child support. In some limited circumstances, this could be true but generally is not going to be the case. This does not mean parents are not free to deviate from the child support guidelines either up or down, typically down. The court can also order a deviation. To illustrate child support in a shared parenting plan, suppose the mother and father have one child. For purposes of this example, the father makes $70,000.00 per year and the mother makes $30,000.00 per year (this can be reversed if you prefer). When the parents are no longer together, we make what I call an assumption that the child should enjoy what he or she would have enjoyed had the parents stayed together.

There are many factors that go into child support but for purposes of this example, I am only going to include the gross income of each parent. There are other factors that have to be taken into consideration, such as health insurance costs, work-related child care if any, other court ordered payments, overtime and more. These can be found if you want to look them up in the statutes of Ohio. Child support is regulated initially by statute.

Using my simplified example, with the mother being the residential parent and legal custodian (having custody), the child support would be $662.57 per month and there is also what is called a processing charge added. There is also something called cash medical support which I am not going to get into here. If on the other hand, we reverse it, using the same numbers and assuming the father has custody, the child support obligation of the mother would be $283.96 per month plus the processing charge. Using the guidelines, we can compute child support for shared parenting and in doing so, we have to consider other factors. I do not intend to do that here. Instead, I would ask you to consider that each parent has the child one-half of the year.

If we determined there should be no child support when parents have shared parenting, when they are with the father, they have available to them his $70,000.00 annual income. When they are with the mother, they have available to them her $30,000.00 annual income. The discrepancy should be clear to the reader. The child flourishes financially when with the father and suffers financially when residing with the mother.

One other point about child support is understanding exactly who does have a child support obligation. In the example we gave, the father makes 70 percent of the income and the mother 30 percent of the income. According to the support guideline tables, the total support amount is $11,358.33 annually(roughly).

I am not going to go into how this figure is derived except to state it is the amount the support tables work out to. The father pays 70 percent of this amount, $7,950.83 annually. If we divide that number by twelve, we should come up with the number I have above for him as a child support obligation per month. Many times what people do not understand is that the custodial parent also has a support obligation. The difference between the table amount and subtracting the father’s obligation annually, leaves $3,407.50. In essence, the custodial parent, mother in this example, does have a child support obligation, however, we do not withhold it from her income and pay it back to her.

I can make arguments for and against the support guidelines. In other words, I can tell you why they work and I can tell you why they do not. The fact is, we do have support guidelines and the first thing the court is going to do is run the support guidelines and come up with an amount. In this case, depending on who the custodial parent is, it is going to be one of the two amounts that I first indicated, on a monthly basis, plus the processing charge.

Arriving at a final child support amount can be complicated. We do have in Ohio deviation factors and I indicated, generally child support is deviated downward, but that is not always the case. There are times by necessity that we have to deviate it up. Deviation downward many times is agreed to by the parents, although an upward deviation generally requires a hearing by the court. There are very few people that agree to pay more than the guideline amount. However, a deviation up or down can be ordered by the court if warranted after the presentation of evidence.

If you have any questions regarding your legal rights as it relates to shared parenting, child support or other issues, you should consult an attorney.

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