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How a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision can affect child support

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Child Support

Numerous family considerations influence child support determinations. The income of each parent, the standard of living during the marriage and the division of parenting time can all influence how the courts divide financial responsibility between two adults.

It is common for someone enjoying a higher income or with fewer overnight parenting obligations to pay child support to the other adult. Parents may invest quite a bit of time and effort into the establishment of reasonable support arrangements at the end of a marriage.

People tend to worry about maintaining an acceptable standard of living after divorce. Occasionally, there are disputes about whether apparent has truly contributed to the best of their abilities. A recent Ohio State Supreme Court ruling could theoretically alter how the courts handle disagreements about the financial obligations of parents in the future.

What did the courts need to address?

The Ohio Supreme Court does not frequently address child support issues, so the recent ruling has certainly drawn a bit of attention. Effectively, the state Supreme Court returned a matter to the lower courts for review.

However, the ruling did help clarify one matter that was previously uncertain. There are cases in which a parent does not maintain a job that pays what they could potentially earn. There have been cases in which one spouse takes an issue related to underemployment and financial support to the courts.

Sometimes, one parent asks for a reduction in the ordered amount of support on the basis that they earn less than they previously did. Other times, a parent frustrated by the lower income of a typically higher-earning co-parent might allege that they took a lower-paying job on purpose to avoid financial responsibility. The recent court ruling effectively establishes that the courts must explicitly agree that a parent has intentionally reduced their income to avoid obligations for that to influence support orders.

In the case that the Supreme Court heard, the lower courts did not rule specifically one way or the other. Instead of allowing for the presumption of voluntary unemployment and underemployment, the expectation is now that the courts must explicitly address those allegations for a recipient spouse to use under employment to their advantage during support negotiations.

For someone dealing with a spouse who does not want to fill their financial obligations to their children, this ruling merely reinforces the importance of presenting the case appropriately to the family courts. For those paying support, this ruling provides leeway regarding the enforcement or modification efforts of a recipient spouse.

Tracking important rulings in the family law sector could help concerned parents meet their child support obligations or recognize when legal action may be necessary. Child support disagreements can frequently lead to protracted and complex family law proceedings, especially when one parent intentionally avoids their obligations.