How is child support determined?
Child support is the financial contribution one parent makes to another for the support of their children.
Ohio law requires that the amount of child support must be determined by a certain procedure. The law sets basic support schedules that must be used to determine the proper amount of child support, based on the number of children and the combined gross income of the parents, as well as other factors and/or credits. The support schedules are based on the average cost of raising children in households across a wide range of incomes.
To determine the appropriate amount of child support, the court calculates each parent's gross income. The gross incomes are combined and the total is used to locate the proper amount on the basic support chart. Any spousal support paid is added to the income of the recipient and deducted from the income of the payor to arrive at gross income. Costs of medical insurance and necessary child care are factored in, and the resulting child support obligation is divided according to the percentages of each party's income to their total combined annual income.
The amount of support determined by these calculations is presumed appropriate. The court has discretion, in certain circumstances, to deviate from the basic support tables where applying basic support would be inequitable. The court also will issue orders for the children's medical needs, including insurance. Child support must be paid to the designated support enforcement agency, which usually orders the employer to deduct that amount from wages.
The total of both parents’ adjusted gross income is applied to a chart, which identifies the amount of support required to raise children in the parents’ income category. The paying parent pays his or her pro-rated share of that charted amount. For example, if Mom earns $10,000 (gross salary) per year, and Dad earns $30,000 (gross), the combined gross income is $40,000. For one child, the 2006 charted amount is approximately $6,500 of child support per year. If Dad were paying support, he would pay $4,875 per year, or 75 percent of the charted amount, because he earned 75 percent of the total combined parental income.
What about day care expenses or health insurance costs?
Factored into the charted amount of child support is the cost of work-related day care expense and major medical insurance coverage for the child. Thus, if the charted amount is $4,000 of child support per year, but Mom also pays $1,500 per year in day care to go to work (after her day care tax credit), and Dad also pays $500 per year for medical insurance to cover the child, the total child support cost is $6,000 per year. It is this total cost of the child’s health insurance coverage and day care costs after tax credit that is divided between the parents according to each parent’s relative share of their combined income.
If I pay child support, do I automatically get to claim the child on my tax return?
Though federal tax law provides the dependency exemption to the custodial parent, state courts have the power to allocate the exemption to the non-custodial parent if it will result in a net tax saving that will benefit the child.
How long does child support last?
Child support is payable until the child reaches the age of 18, or until he or she graduates from high school, whichever is later. If, however, a child is no longer attending high school and is not living with or dependent upon a parent (i.e., is married or otherwise emancipated), then child support may end before age 18. If a child is over 18 years of age and still attends high school, support will continue until the child has completed high school, up to age 19, unless otherwise ordered or agreed.
Special rules apply to handicapped children who will not be expected to be self-sufficient by the age of 18. If a child is handicapped, child support can be ordered to be paid well beyond the child’s 18th birthday.