Tax laws are not the only thing changing in 2019. HB 366, which goes into effect on March 28, 2019, is dramatically changing the child support laws in Ohio. Shockingly, Ohio’s current child support laws have not been updated since 1992. The changes are much needed, as the current economic tables used to determine support obligations contain data from 1980-1986. Obviously, since then, family structures and economics have changed immensely.
Although Ohio’s current child support laws desperately needed updating, some of the provisions are controversial. Two such controversial provisions are the automatic parenting time adjustments and discretionary deviations. As a background, courts typically require parties to utilize a child support worksheet to assist in making child support determinations. Parties must input background information about the children’s ages, the parents’ incomes, etc. Regardless of the amount of support the child worksheet shows as being appropriate, the parties can make deviations in certain circumstances. However, under the new law, an automatic adjustment, which consists of a 10% child support credit, will be given to the obligor with “standard” parenting time that includes 90 overnights or more. In other words, 10% of the obligor’s child support obligation will remain in his or her hands if he or she has 90 overnights or more.
Additionally, courts “shall consider” whether to grant a deviation (based on overnight parenting time) when the obligor has 147 overnights or more. Courts are required to issue “findings of fact” if they choose to not grant a deviation beyond the 10% adjustment already given to that parent. Therefore, the decision of whether to grant a deviation and the amount is entirely discretionary for the court.
The issue of automatic adjustments and required findings of fact for discretionary deviations is brand new for Ohio. Because there are huge financial benefits for the obligor to have more overnights, it is likely that litigation over parenting time schedules will become even more contentious. Fortunately, these automatic adjustments and deviations can be removed by the court if a parent fails to exercise their parenting time.
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