Establishing Child Support

Why should I get an order for child support and health insurance? Often parties will ask why a support order is needed if the payer is unemployed, the payee has sufficient resources to care for the child or the payer is in school. Two facts, however, must be considered. First, circumstances change and the sooner an order is established, the better. Second, if a party receives state or county benefits, they may be required to cooperate in establishing support and health insurance as a condition of receiving benefits.

What needs to be done first? The first thing to do is to determine if paternity is an issue; if so, then that issue must be resolved first. If that issue has been resolved or if it is not an issue at the time the case is started, the party requesting CSEA services or receiving benefits will meet with a CSEA investigator. The investigator will collect information to aid in the location of the person ordered to pay and information related to the payer such as employer, address, benefits, and other assets. A referral will then usually be made to the Administrative Hearings Unit. That unit will usually set up a date for an administrative support hearing, this hearing will be set up 30 to 60 days after the date of the referral from the investigator. The parties will receive a Notice of Administrative Hearing and Subpoena ordering them to attend this hearing.

What happens at the administrative hearing for support?  If both parties are present, the administrative hearing officer will usually make inquiries as to the parties' income, certain expenses, and other children of the parties which live with them or for which they have a child support order. The parties are usually asked to bring in certain information including income tax returns, proof of earnings, and health insurance information. Assuming sufficient information can be obtained at the hearing, the hearing officer will calculate support using the formula mandated by the State of Ohio. The hearing officer will also prepare an Administrative Order which may deal with the items of current support, birthing expenses due and owed to the State of Ohio, health insurance, and the Seek Work Program, among others.

How will the amount of support be determined? As mentioned above, the hearing officer will use the Ohio Support Guidelines and Worksheet found in Ohio Revised Code 3113.215. These guidelines were created by the Ohio Supreme Court and were later adopted by the Ohio legislature. They form the basis for support calculations that every person or entity calculating support (private attorney, public attorney, Court, etc.) must at least start with in determining what a party should pay in child support.

What if I or the other parties object to the order? The parties have 30 days to object unless they waive this objection period. If the parties have not waived the objection period, they will normally receive, either at the time of the hearing or in the mail soon after, three items, to wit: the calculation worksheet used to determine child support in this case, the Administrative Order of Support and Related Matters and an Objection Form.

Will the administrative hearing establish retroactive child support? No. The administrative hearing will establish current support, but not retroactive support. If a party is interested in such support, they would inform the hearing officer of this. The matter can then be presented to the prosecuting attorney for consideration. The parties are, of course, free to engage private legal counsel regarding this issue. The parties should be aware that if they have received benefits from the state or county, they may have assigned their right to receive support to the state or county.

Are the parties ongoing bills (such as rent, car payments, school payments, clothes, credit card debts, etc.) considered by the hearing officer? Generally speaking, no. The hearing officer can only consider those expenses contemplated in the state mandated formula. Those expenses might be considered if it could be definitively shown that said items were ordinary and necessary business expenses for a self-employed parent. The courts do have greater discretion in deviating from the formula than the CSEA, but usually requires some showing that the expense is in someway out of the ordinary. If, however, the parties disagree with the administrative hearing officer, they can object via the previously mentioned Objection Form.

Is the income of my current spouse or the other parent's current spouse considered in calculating support? No. Only the incomes of the parents are considered in calculating support (unless both parents are minors, in which case the incomes of the grandparents may be considered).

What if a parent is unemployed at the time the support order is established? A hearing officer has some discretion regarding such cases. The hearing officer could set support at the minimum amount, the hearing officer could impute income to either or both parents and calculate support on that basis, the hearing officer could place a party on an Order to Seek Work or the hearing officer could do some combination of the three.

What is the minimum support order in Ohio? The minimum order of support in Ohio is $50.00 per month. This is the minimum no matter how many children are involved.

What is imputation of income? Imputation of income is a process by which a party is treated as having a certain income and that income is used for calculating support. This figure is most likely based on either minimum wage income or on an income level which it appears would be available to a party, but is not being fully realized, in part or in whole due to the actions (or non-actions) of the concerned party (such as a case when a parent can work full-time, but chooses not to).

I am married to the father, but currently separated and no action for divorce or dissolution has been filed; can I still get child support? Yes. You should bring in the marriage certificate if you have it.