When a child is born out of wedlock or its parents get divorced, federal and state governments require that support be paid from the noncustodial parent to the parent that retains custody. This is a law operating on the assumption that every child is born with the right to be supported by the two people that created them. Unfortunately, the US Census estimates that only about 45% of custodial parents are receiving the full amount of child support that is due to them. And around 30% of single parents receive no support at all.
How much child support is owed and to whom it should be paid can be tricky details to work out. Like all matters pertaining to family law, the final decisions are heavily dependent upon the family’s circumstances. Generally, child support is paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent or by the parent with the higher income when custody is shared. In this article, we’ll discuss how Ohio calculates the amount of child support, how that amount may be contested or modified, and what to do if you are owed child support and are not being paid.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Different states have different methods for calculating child support, but generally, it is based on the noncustodial parent’s income and expenses. In some states, family law judges have broad discretion when assigning the amount of support. Ohio, on the other hand, follows a strict set of guidelines. The guidelines are so consistent that online child support calculators can often be used to estimate the amount of support required for a specific situation. The factors that determine the amount include things like:
- The number of children being supported
- The ability of the parent to pay child support
- The standard of living the child enjoyed prior to divorce
- Whether the child has any medical or behavioral special needs
- Any other pertinent expense the child may require
An Ohio family law judge can still augment the child support agreement if extenuating circumstances require them to. Consult your attorney for a personalized prediction of your child support requirements.
How Is Calculating Child Support For The Unemployed?
Unfortunately, a common trope of someone who owes child support but wishes not to pay is to remain unemployed or underemployed. They mistakenly believe that if they voluntarily stay out of work, the court will not force them to pay what they owe. The court has ways around this, however.
Instead of basing the amount of child support on the noncustodial parent’s current income, the court will base it on the amount of income they should be earning. The court arrives at this number by analyzing the individual’s potential based on several factors, including:
- Education level
- Prior employment history
- Mental and physical capabilities
- The wages of others in the same demographic
- Availability of work
What If I Can’t Pay?
As we said above, supporting the children they brought into the world is the legal responsibility of every parent unless the child is given up for adoption. Barring that, the court will always hold the noncustodial parent responsible for making child support payments. If a person is incapable of making payments, or if an unforeseen life event reduces their earning ability, the court can make exceptions. However, child support can only be reduced or stopped with the direct permission of the court. If something affects your ability to earn a living, alert the court at once. Common life events that may affect child support payments are:
- A serious illness that affects your ability to work
- You lose your job
- There is a birth of a new child
What Do I Do If I Am Owed Child Support, And They Refuse To Pay?
When the noncustodial parent stops or reduces child support unexpectedly, they are in contempt of the court order. There are state-run child support enforcement agencies whose sole purpose is to get them to pay. The non-paying parent may face hefty fines or even jail time if they continue to refuse to comply. Child support is the only form of debt that can potentially cause jail time if it is not paid. If your former spouse is not paying their share, contact your lawyer immediately.
Why An Experienced Ohio Attorney Can Help
Each child support case is as unique as the individuals involved in it. No two cases are the same. With an experienced lawyer, you can be sure you’re ready for whatever comes. At Garretson & Holcomb, LLC, we can help custodial and noncustodial parents with whatever child support issues are plaguing them. Call today at (513) 863-6600.