In Ohio, the guidelines for calculating child support are set forth under Ohio Revised Code Section 3119.01. This is an entry point for discussion on child support matters. The statute sets forth a standard child support guideline or calculation worksheet which is presumed to be reasonable based upon various factors obtained from the responsible parties. However, there are several factors or reasons set forth in the statute which allow the Court to deviate from the straight award of child support.
Whether you are seeking child support or defending against a claim of child support, the Court or the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) must first legally determine parentage. The most common methods of legally establishing paternity are: 1) child born during a marriage; 2) Child born within 300 days after terminating a marriage; 3) Acknowledgment of paternity signed by the Father at the birth of the child; 4) DNA testing through the CSEA or Court. If the parties were never married, a self-administered DNA test is not admissible and not legally binding to establish paternity.
Once paternity has been established, Ohio law mandates that both parents have a duty to support their child(ren) and provide health insurance. If a single parent is on any form of public assistance or in receipt government health care, they are required to seek support from the other parent. If the parent receiving support, is also receiving cash assistance, the right to receive child support for their child(ren) may be assigned to the CSEA and the State of Ohio. Anyone who terminates a marriage with children is required by law to include a provision on child support which is deemed to be in the best interest of the child.
I often get asked the question of whether I should hire an attorney to review a child support matter. If you want to receive the most favorable award or if you want to pay the correct amount due in support, then you should hire an experienced family law attorney. A child support is capable of being modified while your children are minors, however there is a presumption that your support order was done correctly the first time when you file to modify it. If you are in a support situation and were never married to the child’s other parent, the CSEA offers free services to establish paternity and support. Please see http://jfs.ohio.gov/ocs/ on how to seek these Agency Services. At the completion of the case, the CSEA will issue an Administrative Child Support Order. Each party will have 10 days to file an Objection to the Administrative finding. If neither party objects, the Juvenile Court in the County where the Order was issued, will adopt the Administrative Order as an Order of the Court. However, if either party objects to the Administrative Order, then a Mistake of Fact hearing will be set in Juvenile Court. There is no cost to either party by seeking this review.
One of the reasons you may want to seek a review of the Administrative Order (CSEA) is due to a lack of the ability to deviate from the straight child support worksheet. The CSEA caseworker is prohibited from deviating in the amount of support or using any discretion, however the Court may deviate or reduce the order for any number of reasons including: allocation of parenting time; shared expenses; support for another family; support from a working child; or any other relevant factor. It is important to articulate well reasoned arguments to the court during this hearing.
Once the child support amount is set, neither party may go back to modify the support without a showing of a 10% change in the child support amount based upon new factors.
Contact a Suhre & Associates family law attorney today.