Sunday, November 9, 2003

Payments set by formula, for starters

How much a parent is ordered to pay in child support depends on many things.

It starts with a complex formula based on a parent's income, and the number of children he or she is required to support.

Then, individual situations and a judge's discretion can influence the amount.

For instance, if a child's parents - married or not - have a combined gross income of $50,400, the noncustodial parent must pay $7,222 a year, or $601 a month, even if he or she makes just a fraction of that amount. The same parent is required to pay $1,490 a month for two children.

Laurie Petrie, a spokeswoman for Hamilton County's Child Support Enforcement Agency, likens the state's payment schedule to income tax.

It's based on income, but individual situations have influence, too.

"State regulations are just a starting point," says Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court Administrator Raymond E. Shannon.

Child-support payments usually are drawn up in domestic relations court and juvenile court.

"A collection has to be realistic," Shannon says.

Failure to make a payment could land the parent in jail.

Sherry Coolidge

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