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Columbus Child Support FAQs

Columbus Child Support FAQs


During a divorce or dissolution in Columbus and Central Ohio there are often questions about child support, who will pay it and how it is calculated.

Essentially the courts determine the total income of both parents and then look to the statutes to see how much the statutes presume should be used from those incomes to support the child or children of the parties. The parties’ responsibilities are allocated based upon their “share” of their total incomes. Usually one parent is paying the other child support and will pay his/her portion of the total support to the other parent. Besides gross incomes, the support calculations will consider whether other support is being paid or received for other children, whether a parent has other children of himself or herself, living with him or her, and what the costs are for health insurance and work or education daycare for the parties’ children.

The following contains excerpts from the Ohio statute regarding child support:


3119.01 Calculation of child support obligation definitions.

. . . .

(2) “Child support order” means either a court child support order or an administrative child support order.

(3) “Obligee” means the person who is entitled to receive the support payments under a support order.

(4) “Obligor” means the person who is required to pay support under a support order.

(1) “Combined gross income” means the combined gross income of both parents.

(4) “Extraordinary medical expenses” means any uninsured medical expenses incurred for a child during a calendar year that exceed one hundred dollars.

(5) “Income” means either of the following:

(a) For a parent who is employed to full capacity, the gross income of the parent;

(b) For a parent who is unemployed or underemployed, the sum of the gross income of the parent and any potential income of the parent.

(7) “Gross income” means, except as excluded in division (C)(7) of this section, the total of all earned and unearned income from all sources during a calendar year, whether or not the income is taxable, and includes income from salaries, wages, overtime pay, and bonuses to the extent described in division (D) of section 3119.05 of the Revised Code; commissions; royalties; tips; rents; dividends; severance pay; pensions; interest; trust income; annuities; social security benefits, including retirement, disability, and survivor benefits that are not means-tested; workers’ compensation benefits; unemployment insurance benefits; disability insurance benefits; benefits that are not means-tested and that are received by and in the possession of the veteran who is the beneficiary for any service-connected disability under a program or law administered by the United States department of veterans’ affairs or veterans’ administration; spousal support actually received; and all other sources of income.

“Gross income” includes income of members of any branch of the United States armed services or national guard, including, amounts representing base pay, basic allowance for quarters, basic allowance for subsistence, supplemental subsistence allowance, cost of living adjustment, specialty pay, variable housing allowance, and pay for training or other types of required drills; self-generated income; and potential cash flow from any source.

“Gross income” does not include any of the following:

(a) Benefits received from means-tested government administered programs, including Ohio works first; prevention, retention, and contingency; means-tested veterans’ benefits; supplemental security income; supplemental nutrition assistance program; disability financial assistance; or other assistance for which eligibility is determined on the basis of income or assets;

(b) Benefits for any service-connected disability under a program or law administered by the United States department of veterans’ affairs or veterans’ administration that are not means-tested, that have not been distributed to the veteran who is the beneficiary of the benefits, and that are in the possession of the United States department of veterans’ affairs or veterans’ administration;

(c) Child support received for children who were not born or adopted during the marriage at issue;

(d) Amounts paid for mandatory deductions from wages such as union dues but not taxes, social security, or retirement in lieu of social security;

(e) Nonrecurring or unsustainable income or cash flow items;

(f) Adoption assistance and foster care maintenance payments made pursuant to Title IV-E of the “Social Security Act,” 94 Stat. 501, 42 U.S.C.A. 670(1980) , as amended.

(8) “Nonrecurring or unsustainable income or cash flow item” means an income or cash flow item the parent receives in any year or for any number of years not to exceed three years that the parent does not expect to continue to receive on a regular basis. “Nonrecurring or unsustainable income or cash flow item” does not include a lottery prize award that is not paid in a lump sum or any other item of income or cash flow that the parent receives or expects to receive for each year for a period of more than three years or that the parent receives and invests or otherwise uses to produce income or cash flow for a period of more than three years.


(a) “Ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in generating gross receipts” means actual cash items expended by the parent or the parent’s business and includes depreciation expenses of business equipment as shown on the books of a business entity.

(b) Except as specifically included in “ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in generating gross receipts” by division (C)(9)(a) of this section, “ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in generating gross receipts” does not include depreciation expenses and other noncash items that are allowed as deductions on any federal tax return of the parent or the parent’s business.

(10) “Personal earnings” means compensation paid or payable for personal services, however denominated, and includes wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, draws against commissions, profit sharing, vacation pay, or any other compensation.

(11) “Potential income” means both of the following for a parent who the court pursuant to a court support order, or a child support enforcement agency pursuant to an administrative child support order, determines is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily underemployed:

(a) Imputed income that the court or agency determines the parent would have earned if fully employed as determined from the following criteria:

(i) The parent’s prior employment experience;

(ii) The parent’s education;

(iii) The parent’s physical and mental disabilities, if any;

(iv) The availability of employment in the geographic area in which the parent resides;

(v) The prevailing wage and salary levels in the geographic area in which the parent resides;

(vi) The parent’s special skills and training;

(vii) Whether there is evidence that the parent has the ability to earn the imputed income;

(viii) The age and special needs of the child for whom child support is being calculated under this section;

(ix) The parent’s increased earning capacity because of experience;

(x) The parent’s decreased earning capacity because of a felony conviction;

(xi) Any other relevant factor.

(b) Imputed income from any nonincome-producing assets of a parent, as determined from the local passbook savings rate or another appropriate rate as determined by the court or agency, not to exceed the rate of interest specified in division (A) of section 1343.03 of the Revised Code, if the income is significant.

(12) “Schedule” means the basic child support schedule set forth in section 3119.021 of the Revised Code.

(13) “Self-generated income” means gross receipts received by a parent from self- employment, proprietorship of a business, joint ownership of a partnership or closely held corporation, and rents minus ordinary and necessary expenses incurred by the parent in generating the gross receipts. “Self-generated income” includes expense reimbursements or in-kind payments received by a parent from self-employment, the operation of a business, or rents, including company cars, free housing, reimbursed meals, and other benefits, if the reimbursements are significant and reduce personal living expenses.

(14) “Split parental rights and responsibilities” means a situation in which there is more than one child who is the subject of an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and each parent is the residential parent and legal custodian of at least one of those children.


In Ohio there is a statute specifically addressing potential deviations from the “guidelines” which set support. The parties can agree to deviation (either up or down from the guideline amount) but the court must find that the deviation is in the best interest of the child(ren) before the agreed to deviation is approved by the court. When the court is considering deviation it looks to the following statute:

3119.23 Factors to be considered in granting a deviation.

The court may consider any of the following factors in determining whether to grant a deviation pursuant to section 3119.22 of the Revised Code:

(A) Special and unusual needs of the children;

(B) Extraordinary obligations for minor children or obligations for handicapped children who are not stepchildren and who are not offspring from the marriage or relationship that is the basis of the immediate child support determination;

(C) Other court-ordered payments such as spousal support;

(D) Extended parenting time or extraordinary costs associated with parenting time, provided that this division does not authorize and shall not be construed as authorizing any deviation from the schedule and the applicable worksheet, through the line establishing the actual annual obligation, or any escrowing, impoundment, or withholding of child support because of a denial of or interference with a right of parenting time granted by court order;

(E) The obligor obtaining additional employment after a child support order is issued in order to support a second family;

(F) The financial resources and the earning ability of the child;

(G) Disparity in income between parties or households;

(H) Benefits that either parent receives from remarriage or sharing living expenses with another person;

(I) The amount of federal, state, and local taxes actually paid or estimated to be paid by a parent or both of the parents;

(J) Significant in-kind contributions from a parent, including, but not limited to, direct payment for lessons, sports equipment, schooling, or clothing;

(K) The relative financial resources, other assets and resources, and needs of each parent;

(L) The standard of living and circumstances of each parent and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage continued or had the parents been married;

(M) The physical and emotional condition and needs of the child;

(N) The need and capacity of the child for an education and the educational opportunities that would have been available to the child had the circumstances requiring a court order for support not arisen;

(O) The responsibility of each parent for the support of others;

(P) Any other relevant factor. The court may accept an agreement of the parents that assigns a monetary value to any of the factors and criteria listed in this section that are applicable to their situation. If the court grants a deviation based on division (P) of this section, it shall specifically state in the order the facts that are the basis for the deviation.

Effective Date: 03-22-2001