Q: How is the amount of child support determined?
support is calculated according to a formula written into state law.
That formula combines the father’s and mother’s gross income. There are
certain allowable deductions from each parent's gross income. These
deductions include the sum of local income tax actually paid, any child
or spousal support order for other children or former spouses, and the
value of a federal dependency exemption for each dependent of his or her
household (not including the dependents for whom child support has been
ordered). For example, if you are remarried and have a child by your
new marriage, $3,950 (for the tax year 2014) will be deducted from your
gross income before calculating child support of your earlier marriage.
Additionally, if there is an order for spousal support, the annual sum
of spousal support is deducted from the spousal support payor’s gross
income and added to the income of the recipient.
The total of this adjusted gross income of both parents is then
applied to a chart, which identifies the amount of support required to
raise children in their parents’ income category. The paying parent will
pay his or her pro-rated share of that charted amount. For example, if
Mom earns $10,000 per year, and Dad earns $30,000, the combined gross is
$40,000. For one child, the charted amount is approximately $6,500 of
child support per year. If Dad is the parent paying support, he must pay
$4,875 per year, or 75 percent of the charted amount, because he earns
75 percent of the total combined parental income.
Q: What about day care and health insurance?
A: Factored into the charted amount of child support is the cost of
work-related or education-related day care expense and major
medical insurance coverage for the child. Thus, if the charted amount is
$4,000 child support per year, but Mom also pays $1500 per year in day
care to go to work, 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 which is divided between the parents on
their relative share of earnings.
The court will typically order one or both parents to carry health
coverage, if available at reasonable cost. If no affordable coverage is
available, then parents will be ordered to share in some way the costs
of health care. Uncovered medical costs are usually ordered to be paid
in pro-rated shares of the parents’ income, after the residential parent
pays the first $100 per year.
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 savings that
will benefit the child.
Q: What is a cash medical support order?
is another component to every child support order, known as the cash
medical support order. In addition to the monthly child support
obligation, there must be an order pertaining to medical insurance and
uncovered medical costs for the children. Thus, all child support orders
contain two separate obligations: one due while there is medical
insurance for the child and the other due if there is no medical
insurance. The latter order becomes effective immediately if health
coverage is lost or if it does not exist at the initiation of the
support order. When there is no health insurance for the child, there is
actually an additional sum of money ordered to be paid for uncovered
medicals. That sum is the cash medical support order.
When a cash medical support order is effected, the child support
order has a sum due to the residential parent and a separate sum (the
cash medical support order) designed to contribute to medical expenses.
If the residential parent has public health coverage for the child, then
the cash medical support portion of the order should be paid to the
government agency supplying the health insurance to the child.Q: How long can my children expect to receive support?A:
support is payable until the child reaches the age of 18, or until he
or she graduates from high school, whichever is later. If a child is no
longer attending high school, however, and is not living with or
dependent upon a parent (i.e., married), then child support may end
before the age of 18. If a child is more than 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
The court's jurisdiction to order child support ends at
age 18, with the exception of handicapped children and those still in
high school after age 18. This is true even when a child over 18 is
entirely dependent upon his parents while attending college. If,
however, parents agree in their divorce decree to support a child beyond the age of 18, such as to pay for college, then the court can enforce that agreement.
children born out of wedlock, support generally is due from the date of
birth to the date of "emancipation" (age 18 or independence), only
after the fatherhood of the child is legally determined.
6/15/2014This "Law You Can Use" consumer legal
information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It
was prepared by Pamela MacAdams, an attorney with the Cleveland firm of
Morganstern, MacAdams & DeVito Co., L.P.A.