Mark McCown: Review would determine child support changes

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2022

Dear Lawyer Mark: I am mad.

My boyfriend pays child support to his baby mama, and always pays on time. He is going to get laid off from his job this summer like he always does, and so we asked the child support people for paperwork so he wouldn’t have to pay as much while he is laid off.

I wanted him to start it now, cause it took forever to do with my last boyfriend.

Well now, they told him he would have to get his own lawyer and go to court, because they couldn’t help him. I know Child Support has their own lawyer, but is he just there for the moms? — Angry in Andis

Dear Angry: Well, your situation actually hinges around multiple issues.

To answer your stated question, the CSEA attorney does not represent moms or dads, he represents the agency.

This fact is actually codified in the Ohio Administrative Code, where it states that the attorney must represent and act in the best interest of the State of Ohio, not the personal interests of the recipient of services. This means that the attorney and CSEA can only bring modification actions that are permitted by the Ohio Revised Code and Administrative Code.

As to your request for the CSEA to modify your order, you are actually requesting an “administrative review.”

A person paying or receiving child support has the right to request an administrative review under certain circumstances, as well as an automatic right to have it reviewed every 36 months.

The circumstances allowing a review before the 36-month period is up are listed in OAC 5101:12-60-05.1(E), and include, among others, 1) an unemployed party becoming employed, 2) a lay-off situation (I’ll talk more about that later), 3) a party being involved in a plant closing or mass lay-off, 4) a party becoming disabled, 5) a party becoming incarcerated, 6) a 30 percent increase or decrease in a party’s income for a period of 6 months, 7) one of several children under a support order emancipates, 8) certain changes in health insurance availability by the parties, and 9) a change in active duty status of a member of the military.

While you indicate that your boyfriend will be in a lay-off status, the code is very specific as to what counts as a lay-off: It may not be voluntary, and must continue at least 30 days.

Additionally, the agency cannot perform an administrative review if it is a seasonal lay-off, and the support order was based on an annualized income that takes the lay-off into account. I am assuming that your boyfriend’s lay-off is seasonal in nature, because you said he always gets laid off in the summer.

Presuming your boyfriend’s child support calculation was based on his annualized income when it was originally computed, he does not qualify for an administrative review under this section.

Incidentally, even if a review were granted, it doesn’t mean that his child support would change; rather, it just means that the agency will gather the required evidence of income, and run a new calculation.

Unless there is a change in medical insurance coverage, the CSEA can only modify if the new child support changes (up or down) by more than ten percent.

As the CSEA told you, the above is for those seeking a child support change to be made by the agency; you still have the right to obtain an attorney and seek relief directly through the courts.

Thought for the Day: “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” Denis Waitley

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at LawyerMark@yahoo.com. The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.