Alexander T. Korecky, Esq.

On May 16, 2018, the Ohio Senate ratified House Bill 366, which brings with it a comprehensive overhaul to Ohio’s existing child support scheme. This new law serves as Ohio’s first update to its child support system since 1992, and will go fully active on March 28, 2019. If you are already involved in a court case involving child support, or could foreseeably be involved in one in the future, it is important to inform yourself of how these changes will affect your life, though there is no substitute for the advice of an attorney.

First, the new bill will affect only new child support orders or orders modified after March 28, 2019. Currently existing orders will remain unchanged unless they are modified after that date. A small note is that the self-sufficiency reserve has greatly increased, which means that lower income earners may pay less support than before.

Next, the child support tables have elevated the maximum combined income of litigants from $150,000 to $300,000. When the parties’ combined income exceeds this cap, the court (or agency) must perform a case-by-case evaluation of certain factors. By increasing this cap, lawmakers believe litigation will decrease, because fewer cases will fall into the default “factor consideration” zone, which requires the court’s time at parties’ expense. Additionally, the minimum child support order has increase from $600 per year ($50 per month) to $960 per year ($80 per month).

The new bill makes several important changes to how health insurance plays out in a child support case. The bill creates a rebuttable presumption that the child support obligee (that is, the person receiving child support) will provide health insurance for the child. This means that by default, the obligee will have to provide health insurance, which was not the case before. Probably the biggest change related to health insurance is that now the total out-of-pocket cost of health insurance will be subtracted from the obligor’s (the person paying child support’s) income, before child support is calculated. In contrast, the old scheme treated the cost of health insurance as a pro-rated addition to support; now, it is a deduction from income. Many family law practitioners believe this change makes sense because the new treatment recognizes the financial reality that the amount paid for insurance is income not available for support.

Another big change is the bill’s recognition of “multiple families,” which occurs when a child support obligor pays child support to different individuals. Formerly, keeping track of obligations to multiple obligees was an administrative nightmare due to lack of uniformity across multiple cases. Lawmakers designed the “multiple family” system in an effort to create a consistent credit across all of a parent’s child support cases. However, as obligors transition to the “multiple family” system, it will likely create administrative confusion at first, at least until all of the obligor’s existing cases transfer to the new system. As started previously, these changes will not automatically occur, so confusion will likely result when an obligor’s case uses the “multiple family” system, but his or her other case(s) is not yet transferred to it. The courts and child support enforcement agencies will likely need a grace period while they adapt to this new system as well.

One last big change created by the new law is the way it considers parenting time. A huge misconception about the old child support laws is that they automatically factored in standard parenting time, which in fact they did not. The current method of parenting time calculation transfers all support paid for the child into one household, which fails to recognize the variable costs associated with the obligor’s parenting time, putting 100% of those costs on obligor while the child is in his or her household. The new system will give a 10% child support credit to obligors with standard parenting time, which means 90 overnights or more per year. Beware, however, as an obligor will lose this credit if the obligor does not exercise his or her parenting time!

This article highlighted just a few of the changes that House Bill 366 will effectuate. Again, there it no substitute for the advice an attorney can give you on how to use the new child support statute to your advantage. If you have any questions regarding setting up, terminating, or modifying child support that you are currently paying or receiving, or if you are merely interested in exploring your options, please contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Dmitriy Borshchak.