Ohio lawmakers consider major overhauls to child support

Lawmakers in Columbus are grappling with how to address problems with the state's child support system. As WKSU News reports, two bills, one in the Senate and one in the House, recently passed their respective chambers and both would introduce much needed changes to how child support is calculated and paid. Differences between the two bills, however, will need to be resolved before either version becomes law. The last time Ohio's child support laws saw major changes was more than a quarter century ago.

Problems with Ohio child support

The main problem with Ohio's child support system is the amount of money that is meant for children that goes uncollected each year. As U.S. News & World Report notes, since 1976 the state has accumulated $4.5 billion in unpaid child support payments and another $100 million gets added to that figure each year. Across the United States, about 5.5 million non-custodial parents are behind on their child support payments and they collectively owe $114 billion.

A major hurdle in getting that money to the children who deserve it is that 69 percent of Ohio's child support debt is owed by parents who report earning less than $10,000 per year. Critics of the current child support system in the state say that it forces non-custodial parents into the underground economy and results in wage garnishment of people who cannot afford it.

Changing how child support works

Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, seek to address some of these problems. Senate Bill 125, for one, would update what economic data is used to calculate child support payments. For example, as WHIO News reports, the bill would require that shared parenting arrangements and whether or not a non-custodial parent provides health insurance for their children be accounted for in determining support payments. Furthermore, the bill would give state officials in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services the power to change child support guidelines. That power is currently held by state lawmakers.

A similar bill also passed the House, but there are differences between the two bills that will need to be ironed out before any major overhaul to the child support system becomes law. While state lawmakers have studied the child support system every four years for more than two decades, the last time they actually passed a major overhaul was in 1992.

Family law assistance

Child support and custody issues are some of the most contentious issues that need to be dealt with in a divorce. An experienced family law attorney can assist parents who are going through a divorce with these complicated concerns. An attorney can help clients understand what their rights are and how they can pursue an agreement that allows them to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children.