LOGAN — For the first time in over 25 years, Ohio parents will see a change in child support laws. Hocking County Common Pleas Court Magistrate Wenda Sheard explained the details to The Logan Daily News.
“The new guidelines are more realistic for what they’re (parents) actually spending out of their income on the children,” explained Sheard.
According to Sheard, Ohio is one of the last states to make some of these changes. Part of the reason it took so long is because of the detailed research and careful planning of the state legislature.
“This time the Ohio legislature realized that it would be better to have the guidelines and all the rules under the control of an administrative agency that would be able to make changes quicker in the future and who has the expertise to know what those changes should be,” added Sheard.
Here are just some of the changes to note:
• Updates to the formulas for determining the amounts owed for support based on the parent’s incomes.
• The increase from a $150,000 income “cap” to $300,000 of combined income for calculating child support.
• An automatic 10 percent reduction in the child support amount when the payer has a “standard parenting time order” (90 nights or more) and the payer is actually exercising the parenting time.
• In shared parenting cases with equal parenting time (over 147 nights), the court is required to explain why it is not granting a downward deviation from the child support guideline amount.
• Determined by the age of the child and the number of children, there’s a cap on the amount of childcare expenses that will be incorporated into the child support order.
• A standard income deduction for each child of the payer, which treats each child equally even if they are under different child support orders. This eliminates the “first to file” advantage that existed when the payer was subject to more than one child support order.
• A “self sufficiency reserve” that allows lower income individuals to retain more cash in their household in order to allow them to support themselves after they have paid their child support obligation.
Sheard believes these changes will help everyone in the long run and low income child support orders will be generally lower. This means there’s a better chance child support payments will be made because people will be able to support themselves, and therefore, more child support orders will be obeyed, she added.
“One thing I do think is important is that if a person paying child support gets to see their children they’re much more likely to pay,” stated Hocking County Common Pleas Court Judge John Wallace. “So while the law says you have to pay anyway — but if the non-custodial parent, the one paying child support, sees their children on a frequent basis, they’re much more likely to pay.”
One thing to note is these changes are not automatic. In order to update child support obligations under the new rules, people will need to file a motion to modify child support with the court or request a modification.
The most important thing Sheard touched on though was for both parents to love their children and encourage their children to love the other parent.
“The thing that breaks my heart more than anything else is when I hear that parents have said bad things about each other in front of the child. That is just so damaging and parents have no idea what it does to a child when one parent says something bad about the other parent because children are half of each parent,” she concluded.