Mysteries of Child Support


Most people know there are programs out there that calculates child support including a free program from Ohio Department of Job and Family Services:

However, what are the different elements that lead to the conclusion? In short, how is child support calculated?

Child support is standardized in a Child Support Computation Worksheet. The idea behind this worksheet is to treat every child consistently across the state regardless of their individual homelives.

First Step: Determine the Parties’ Income

Income may come from various sources including wages (W2), independent contracting, rent, self-employed income, business income, dividends, retirement benefits, rental income, unemployment, social security, other government benefits, military benefits, etc.

If a person is underemployed, the Court will impute income to that person which is the Court’s conclusion of the person’s earning capabilities. The Court will calculate that income regardless of if the parent is working. Income is imputed to avoid the temptation of quitting a job or not working for a period just long enough to calculate child support and going back to work soon after.

Second Step: Determine the Parties’ Income Proportion

If the parties make $100,000 household income and Parent 1 makes $30,000 and Parent 2 makes $70,000, Parent 1 makes 30% of household income and Parent 2 makes 70% of household income. The Child Support Computation Worksheet calculates the standard costs to raise children in households earning $100,000 and divides these standard costs 30/70 between the spouses.

Third Step: Determine Standard Deductible Expenses

Parties will get deductions/increases in child support for out-of-pocket policy cost of private medical insurance coverage and childcare expenses.

Fourth Step: Mandatory Deviation and Special Circumstances

The Court can order additional deviations based on how much time each parent has the child. The Court MUST apply a 10% deviation if the Obligor parent has the child at least ninety overnights. If the Obligor parent has the child 147 overnights or more, the Court MUST have good reason to not award a second deviation over the mandatory 10%. The amount of the second deviation is discretionary.

The Court may order deviations under other special circumstances if the child has special or unusual needs, financial earning ability of the child, benefits received by a parent from his or her current spouse, if one parent pays significant additional expenses for child (school tuition, extra-curricular activities, sport equipment), post-secondary expenses, etc. Special circumstance deviations are also discretionary and most special circumstances are unique from case to case.


Even though a free child support calculator can give you a number that is consistent with Ohio Statute, there are many factors that impact that number. To ensure that you are exploring all your options and appropriately following the above steps, it is essential to speak with a child support attorney prior to finalizing a child support order.