Child support is money that the court orders one parent to pay to the other to assist the other with financially providing for the children.
WHO RECEIVES CHILD SUPPPORT
If one parent has sole custody of a child, in most cases, that parent will receive the child support for the benefit of the child, regardless of who makes more or less money. In a shared parenting arrangement, generally either the lower income earner or the parent with the majority of the time with the children will receive child support from the other parent.
STATUTORY CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATION
Ohio has a statutory formula for calculating child support obligations which is largely based on each parent’s income, income potential, and/or access to wealth. The formula also takes other financial factors into consideration such as the payment of health care premiums for the children, the payment of work related child care expenses, local taxes, support obligations for other children and support obligations for a former or current spouse. Once all statutory financial factors are input, the formula tells you the amount of the child support obligation. If the amount is not in the best interest of your children, you may deviate from the statutory child support calculation by increasing or decreasing the support obligation of either party. The court will retain jurisdiction over child support and the child support order may be modified at any time if there is a change in either party's financial situation. Also, be aware that the state charges a 2% processing fee, so the parent who is paying support will actually be paying 2% more than the actual child support obligation.
If one party is underemployed (based upon that person’s prior employment) and that condition is voluntary, additional income may be imputed to that person for child support calculation purposes. For example, if your spouse has a history of being able to earn $90,000 per year but has decided that life will be simpler by taking an easier job earning $13,000 per year, the court may impute $90,000 of annual income to your spouse for child support calculation purposes. However, if either party becomes involuntarily underemployed or unemployed (ie. become disabled, loose your job through no fault of your own), it is unlikely that the court will impute any further income to that party provided that party is actively seeking alternate employment, if able to do so. Also, for parents who earn bonuses or commissions, a three year average of earning will likely be used as your income for child support calculation purposes.
HOW CHILD SUPPORT CAN BE USED
While child support is for the benefit of the children, it is important to remember that things such as housing, utilities, clothing and groceries benefit the children. Keep in mind that the aim of child support is to allow each parent to provide adequately for the children. As such, the court does not require the parent receiving child support to keep receipts or track how the money is spent.
HOW CHILD SUPPORT IS PAID
In most cases, the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) automatically collects child support through a wage deduction or a bank account deduction. In the event that a wage deduction or bank account deduction cannot be executed in your situation, the parent paying child support must pay the child support directly to the CSEA. In any event, all child support must be paid through the CSEA. Any child support paid directly to the other parent is deemed a gift and is not counted towards the child support obligation.
HOW LONG CHILD SUPPORT LASTS
If your child is not disabled, the child support obligation generally ends when the child is either over the age of 18 and no longer enrolled in high school or has turned 19, whichever occurs first.