Updating Ohio’s Child Support Guidelines

By Sen. Bill Beagle

As a parent myself, as well as the chairman of the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood, I know firsthand that all children deserve the best possible quality of life in order to prepare them for the future. Child poverty’s devastating effects on families, education and eventually one’s ability to work are well documented. Improving financial support for Ohio’s children is why I introduced Senate Bill 125, which aims to improve our state’s child support system.

Over one million children in Ohio are currently part of the child support system. Unfortunately, the current standards used to determine child support obligations are outdated and in need of thorough review.

All states are required to establish a standard methodology for child support obligations that reflects the cost of raising a child. Ohio uses an “income shares” model, requiring both parents to share the cost to raise their child. This model takes into account the earnings of both parents, and allows the courts to estimate the standard of living for a child within a specific net income level. The amount is determined using economic data, and a guideline computation worksheet. Ohio’s economic tables are more than 25 years old, and based on data from the 1980’s.

Senate Bill 125 updates the economic data used for establishing and modifying child support obligations, as well as the computation worksheet, allowing for realistic child support orders that are based on the ability to pay. It is estimated that almost 30 percent of Ohio families do not receive their current child support obligations. My hope is that this legislation will help us reach the ultimate goal of consistent, reliable payments of child support to all children and caregivers who are owed this commitment.

Along with modernizing the economic tables, Senate Bill 125 includes necessary improvements for routine medical expense sharing, health insurance responsibility, daycare credit, and multiple family issues. This will also move the tables and worksheet from the more rigid Ohio Revised Code to the Ohio Administrative Code, allowing for more frequent and necessary adjustments through a five-year rule review process.

Change is hard – for people and institutions. Modernizing Ohio’s guidelines to reflect how families live today is critical. Having a child support system that results in more money for children than today’s outdated system is a goal worth fighting for. After all, there is only one chance at childhood. Ohio should do all it can to ensure every child has the resources to reach their potential as adults.

By Sen. Bill Beagle