When Should I File for a Modification of Child Support?

Child Support Agreement

Child Support can be a complicated subject during and after a separation. Who should pay? How much should they pay? When can I modify support? All of these are legal questions that can impact both the person paying (Obligor) and the person receiving (obligee). Each question can have their own article, but this article will focus on modifying child support. If the parties agree, then you can modify the support. If there is no agreement, you have to ask the Court to modify.

Under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 3119.79 Recalculating amount of support by court upon request, either party may ask the court to modify the support. If the amount as recalculated is more than 10% greater than or less than the current amount of child support required to be paid, then the new amount “…shall be considered by the court as a change of circumstance substantial enough to require a modification of the child support amount.” This is a great baseline test. If, by recalculating the support, there is a 10% difference, that is a good indication to file for the modification. This is typically seen when there is a job or income change. Either party increases or decreases income, so they seek a modification. You cannot include a new spouse’s income for child support. It is only based on the obligor’s and obligee’s income.

ORC 3119.79 goes on to say that when determining the percentage of difference in the new figures, “…the court shall consider, in addition to all other factors required by law to be considered, the cost of health insurance the obligor, the obligee, or both the obligor and the obligee have been ordered to obtain for the children specified in the order. Additionally, if an obligor or obligee under a child support order requests that the court modify the support amount required to be paid pursuant to the child support order and if the court determines that the amount of support does not adequately meet the medical needs of the child, the inadequate coverage shall be considered by the court as a change of circumstance that is substantial enough to require a modification of the amount of the child support order.”

The Court needs to determine that if there is a “…substantial change of circumstances that was not contemplated at the time of the issuance of the original child support order or the last modification of the child support order, the court shall modify the amount of child support required to be paid under the child support order to comply with the schedule and the applicable worksheet through the line establishing the actual annual obligation, unless the court determines that the amount calculated pursuant to the basic child support schedule and pursuant to the applicable worksheet would be unjust or inappropriate and would not be in the best interest of the child…” (ORC 3119.79 (C))

So, a good rule of thumb is that if there is a 10% change in the support amount it can qualify for a modification.  For additional assistance on your specific matter, contact Kurt Law Office at 440.516.1010.