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Fathers and Families

Speak Out About Ohio Child Support Guidelines
September 27, 2012
Top Story
Speak Out About Ohio Child Support Guidelines
Don Hubin

By Don Hubin, Ph.D., Chair, Fathers and Families of Ohio Executive Committee

The most important things we do for our children are personal: we support them, we feed them, we convey to them our values, and we nurture their development into competent, self-reliant adults. But sometimes there are very important political things we need to do for our children. Now is one of those times.

Federal law requires that states review their child support guidelines every four years. The work of the 2013 Ohio Child Support Guidelines Advisory Council is underway now. The Council is seeking your input. And Fathers and Families of Ohio wants to make sure they receive it.

There are two ways to convey your concerns about present child support laws and practices in Ohio and I encourage you to use both of them to make your voice heard. First, you can send an email to this address: [email protected]. All emails will be forwarded to the entire guidelines council, with any personal information you include removed so as not to violate your privacy.

Please copy our Executive Director Rita Fuerst Adams on your response.

Second, while all meetings of the Council are open to the public, on Friday, October 19, the Council will have a Public Feedback Meeting. You are invited to come and speak your mind concerning Ohio child support laws and practices. The meeting is currently scheduled to take place in room A535 on the 5th floor of the Lazarus Building at 50 West Town Street, Columbus, from 10 am to 3 pm, though the location could change if the anticipated attendance requires more space.

This is your chance to make your voice heard. Use it. Bringing fairness to Ohio’s child support system for current and future families involved with the system depends on your action.

Here are some issues that need to be corrected in Ohio’s current child support system. I’m sure that you can add some of your own from your personal experience:

  1. Parenting Time Adjustment

    Unlike about half the other states’ laws, current Ohio child support guidelines do not include a parenting time adjustment. Such a provision would adjust the presumptive level of child support based on the time the children spend with each parent. Some form of parenting time adjustment has been recommended by previous Ohio Child Support Guideline Councils since at least 2001, but the legislature has never acted on these recommendations. Fathers and Families favors the sort of parenting time adjustment proposed by the 1997 Guideline Council. This would have created a graduated parenting time adjustment that would have avoided making parents fight over small differences in time with the children.


  2. Presumptive Child Support in Shared Parenting Cases

    Based on current Ohio statutory and case law, courts are required to designate one parent a presumptive obligor and one parent a presumptive recipient of child support in shared parenting cases. But neither statutory nor case law indicates how a court is to make this designation. This vagueness in the law leads to inconsistency between courts. And, in cases where the parents have roughly equal parenting time and responsibilities, it violates requirements of equal protection of the law and is manifestly unfair.

    There are broad changes necessary in Ohio’s child support law. But with respect to this problem we seek a rather limited remedy for a clear omission in Ohio law. We propose amending ORC 3119.07 to require a court to treat the child support obligation of both parents in a shared parenting situation where both parents are custodial and residential parents equally unless the court finds that such treatment would be unjust or inappropriate.

    Here is a draft of the sort of legislative change we seek to enact. And here a document explaining and supporting the proposal.


  3. Child Support Self-Support Reserve Protection

    Federal law requires that state child support laws provide for a “self-support reserve,” intended to to protect a child support obligor from being pushed below the poverty line by child support obligations. The federal law is motivated by the awareness that pushing parents who pay child support obligation into abject poverty will not result in increased resources for the children and will have the effect of driving the obligor into an underground economy and, usually, out of the child’s life.

    When the Ohio child support law was drafted, it incorporated a very serious error: it defined the self-support reserve in terms of the combined income of the two parents. This causes a problem when the obligor’s income is near the poverty level but the recipient’s income is well above that level. In such cases, the Ohio self-support reserve will not protect this obligor from being driven below the poverty level.

    This problem has been recognized by all of the recent Ohio Child Support Guidelines Councils. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services supports the creation in Ohio law of a proper self-support reserve. We know of no organization that opposes correcting this error. The only reason the problem has not been corrected is that legislation to correct it has always been incorporated in broad, sweeping child support reform legislation—legislation that has proven impossible to pass.

    It is wrong to hold the correction of this universally recognized problem hostage to broader child support agendas. We seek to have a bill introduced that would correct the current mistake in Ohio’s definition of the self-support reserve.
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Printer for Sale
A member recently donated a used, excellent condition Kyocera Taskalfa 550c color multifunction system with scanner, fax board, and saddle-stitch finisher. It prints, scans, copies, and faxes.

Specs:
  • Print Speed: 55 pages per minute (black and color)
  • Resolution: 600 x 600 dpi (copy and print) / 8 Bit Color Depth
  • Max Monthly Duty Cycle: 225,000 pages
More information, specs, and photos are available at Kyocera’s website.

Price is negotiable. The money we receive will go towards our work reforming family law. Pickup only from Manchester, NH. Please spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested. Contact Rita Fuerst Adams.



Mission
Fathers and Families improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting the child’s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.



Vision

Fathers and Families’ vision is a society in which:
  • Children are happier and more successful because their loving bonds are protected after parental separation or divorce:

  • Children have a natural right to be nurtured and guided by both parents:

  • Society treats fathers and mothers as equally important to the wellbeing of their children:

  • Shared parenting after separation or divorce is the norm:

  • The courts arrange finances after separation or divorce so that both mothers and fathers can afford to house and care for their children and themselves: and

  • Our society understands and respects the essential role of fathers.

Fathers and Families
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