Child support obligations come into play whenever parents in Ohio become divorced. In Ohio, child support is based on providing the child with the same standard of living that existed when the parents lived together. The courts will look at both parents' income to determine what financial contribution one parent should make to the other.
Income Shares Model
When calculating child support, Ohio uses a formula known as the "income shares model." The state considers both parents' gross income and the child's living standard that would exist if the parents were still together in the same household. Essentially, the court looks at the gross income of each parent, makes deductions based on child care and related costs, and uses a basic child support schedule to come up with a starting point in determining the child support order.
In determining the income of each parent, Ohio courts will look at earnings from many different sources. Generally, gross income includes all income made over the previous year, including wages, dividends, pensions, unemployment benefits and most other sources of money. However, income from public assistance, as well as child support for children from a different parent, isn't considered in the calculation. If the parent has income from bonuses or overtime, the state will look at the average amount of bonuses and overtime paid over the past three years. However, if bonuses and overtime earned over the past year is less than the three-year average, the state will use the lower number.
Deductions and Credits
After determining the gross income of each parent, the state will deduct certain expenses and credit other expenses to the child support obligation. The court may deduct income tax paid, spousal support or child support obligations for a child in a different relationship. Health insurance premiums for the child, as well as childcare expenses, may be added to the final child support obligation.
In some cases, Ohio courts will "impute" income to a noncustodial parent who is deliberately unemployed or underemployed. When the court imputes income, it will calculate child support as if the parent were actually earning money, based on her education and earning capacity. While the decision to impute income is up to the discretion of the court, generally the court will consider the parent's prior employment, education, disabilities, availability of employment, the age and needs of the child and the parenting skills of the parent.