Child Care and Ohio Child Support

A group of babies sitting together in daycareIf you have young children and you have a job, there’s a good chance you use paid child care. While some people are lucky enough to have a family member or friend watch their kids while they work, many parents, especially single parents, need to pay for care. If you are paying, or receiving, Ohio child support, how do payments for child care factor into the calculation of who owes what? Let’s take a look at child care and Ohio child support, and how the two intersect.

As you may know, Ohio recently underwent some major changes to its child support law—the first such changes in twenty-five years. The new child support schedule is intended to accomplish two goals: first, to prevent low-income families from being saddled with unrealistically high, and unfair, child support orders; and second, to bring child support levels more in line with what people actually spend on their children in 2019.

How Child Care Expenses Affect Child Support

Ohio now has a “self-sufficiency reserve” in the child support tables, to ensure that child support obligors can afford to support their own household after paying child support.

If an obligor’s annual income is subject to this self-sufficiency reserve, his or her share of the cost of child care must be equal to the lower of either:

  • The obligor’s income share of the child care cost, or
  • Fifty percent of the cost of child care.

In the past, parents who paid for child care were given full credit for those payments in calculations for child support. The new legislation places a cap on the child care credit. The child care credit cannot exceed the amounts set by the Ohio Office of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). These amounts are based on statewide average cost estimates for care.

In order to be usable in a child support calculation, the cost of child care must:

  • Be for child care that has been determined to be necessary to permit a parent to work or receive employment training. (Child care necessary for education can no longer be used for support calculations.)
  • Be able to be verified by credible evidence (proof of payment, receipts, canceled checks, credit card slips, etc.);
  • Not include subsidized or reimbursed child care costs. This includes any federal or state income tax credit available to the parent for child care, whether or not the parent actually claims that credit;
  • Not exceed the maximum statewide average cost estimates as set forth by ODJFS.

Maximum Statewide Average Cost Estimates for Child Care in Ohio

Let’s talk about those estimates for a moment. As you already know if you have children, younger children generally need more attention and a lower caregiver-to-child ratio. As a result, care is more expensive for infants than for toddlers, and for toddlers than for school-age children. The current annual caps, based on that reality, are:

  • For children aged 0-17 months, $11,464;
  • For children aged 18-35 months, $10,025;
  • For children aged 3-5 years, $8,600;
  • For children aged 6-12 years, $7,290

These caps include various types of work-related child care, including before- and after-school care, summer care, and even summer day camps in which children may be enrolled, depending on how your parenting plan, if one exists, is designed. Of course, age is not the only factor that determines the level of care a child needs, or the cost of that care. This is especially true when a child has special needs. The Ohio legislature has anticipated the issue of special needs and planned for it.

Under certain circumstances, a deviation can be granted if per-child costs exceed the cap. These circumstances include “Extraordinary child care costs required for the child or children that exceed the maximum state-wide average cost estimate provided…including extraordinary costs associated with caring for a child or children with specialized physical, psychological, or educational needs.”

In general, the new child support laws are designed to work better with the realities of living in the 21st century. That said, parents may have issues with certain aspects of the law, such as the change that disallows a credit for child care used to allow the parent to get an education. If you have questions about child care credits, or how the changes to Ohio child support laws will affect you and your family, we invite you to contact our law office to schedule a consultation.

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