Archive for August, 2011

Child Support… Sometimes It Pays To Stay at Home!

By Attorney David Engler

Child Support is determined by state statute. (In Ohio you can look at http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/31 )

Basically child support looks at the gross income of the couple. Gross income does not include means tested income like SSI or food-stamps.

The Obligor pays the obligee and what they pay breaks down on a percentage of gross income basis. If the husband (Obligor) made $60,000 and the wife (Obligee) made $40,000, the (couple’s) gross income would be $100,000 and the father would be ordered to pay 60% of the statute ordered presumptive correct amount of $16,583. I am over simplifying… but multiply $16,583 by 60% for a total of $9948 and divide by 12 for an award of $829 per month.

For sure there are deductions and the amount might change if the father and mother have equally divided the visitation or companionship with the children. There are also deductions for local income taxes, union dues, work expenses and payments made for other children.

I have argued cases where the Magistrate did not deviate much from the formula because they thought that there was a great disparity in income between the obligor and the obligee. But I would urge a person who is ordered to pay, to flush out all the benefits the receiving party might be receiving, like Earned Income Tax Credit, Food Stamps, Housing Assistance and College Support.

In one recent case, I represented a mechanic who was lucky to bring home $50,000 gross per year and it looked like the ex-wife was making less than $11,000. After my client was done paying child support and a mortgage and car payments; he had nothing; But when you looked at all the tax free benefits she was receiving, her after tax annual income was $34,000.!

There is an entire group of people who know how to game the system to maximize government benefits. Governments and Judges often have a paternalistic view of a poor unemployed obligee, but if you dig long enough there are reasons people stop finding work. The government has taken away the incentive to look for a job if you can basically stay at home and make $34,000 tax free!

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