After 25 Years, Ohio Bill to Improve Child Support Makes it to Senate Floor

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vermont child support

ohio child supportNationwide, the amount of overdue child support amounts to $114 billion. Ohio parents, alone, “owe more than $4.5 billion in unpaid child support”, according to a recent article from  Interestingly enough, there are five states that haven’t managed to revise their child support system for over two decades. Ohio hasn’t made changes to the system for 25 years.  It appears that efforts to make things better are just not viewed as that urgent, and any work to make change gets complicated and then just deferred.

State senators Bill Beagle and William Coley have spearheaded efforts to move reluctant legislators on this issue. Regardless, one of the bills, SB 70, was allowed to die in the December 2016 session.  It was designed to “streamline administrative functions” by allowing parents to resolve issues through other methods that wouldn’t require them to go to court. Also, it would have made it possible for women to be required to pay child support, instead of  just men. Another bill, SB 125, has made it to the Senate floor, however, despite rejection of the ten amendments made to it plus the nay votes by the only three Democrats on the Senate committee. It was introduced by Beagle to help make child support more manageable for low-income parents.    

Since 1992, Ohio has been using a standard calculation worksheet to determine how much the parent will be required to pay, although circumstances can alter the amount. This calculation does not apply to parents that have a combined annual income of less than $6,600 or more than $150,000, though, so they have to determine this through legal counsel. Unfortunately, the standard calculation method doesn’t seem to be as helpful as it could be anyway for the one in three children of Ohio that are involved in the child support program. Many argue that the standard that it goes by is sorely outdated and that it causes kids and the parents caring for them to come up short. Inflation has heightened the cost to raise a child. Children’s needs for education are not even the same as they were 25 years ago, either. Sadly, the ones who lose out the most due to the negligence by the government and lack of parental support is the kids.  Currently, only 30 percent of people earning low incomes are even paying child support that they are supposed to. The hope of SB 125 is that if the required payment for child support can lessen by ten percent, then perhaps more parents responsible for paying child support will actually follow through. The ten percent drop will only apply if the children spend more than 90 nights each year with the parent paying child support.

If SB 125 moves forward into law, not only the amount of child support payments will be affected. Parents receiving payments will be required to provide health insurance. Also, rather than giving the largest amount for the first child that files, a standard amount can be required for each child. Furthermore, in an effort to strengthen efficiency, child support payments will be adjusted through Ohio’s administrative code instead of by lawmakers.  

Hopefully, the issue of child support will get adequate attention and struggling children and their families will get the care that they need. This is certainly a complicated issue, but it is one that directly affects needy children and their families and indirectly affects society as a whole, so it is not wise to just sweep the issue under the rug.