Employment perks can affect child support payments

While many family law guidelines are standardized across the country, Utah courts and others may set precedents by ruling on some controversial or otherwise noteworthy cases. The issue of what qualifies as personal income in regards to child support payments was recently explored and resolved in court, providing both clarification and further doubt for some over how to calculate child support payments fairly and reasonably.

The specific case in question played out in several courtrooms in Ohio, and focused on a man that sought to have his child support payments lowered to reflect a pay cut he received after years of making payments. Even though the man apparently did not own a cell phone, vehicle or car insurance, his employer did provide him with such necessities. As a result, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the findings of a lower court specifying that employer-supplied benefits like cars and cell phones count as personal income.

The higher court’s reasoning for acknowledging such company perks as income is that the man would have allegedly spent his own money on the items anyways, essentially freeing up his income to be used for support payments. The state Supreme Court was called upon to make that decision after the man appealed a similar lower court ruling on the grounds that most employees are not required to claim employment benefits as income.

Only one Supreme Court judge disagreed with the ruling of his fellow justices and the appellate court, since the lower court found that the thousands of dollars worth of employment benefits the man received should be viewed as income. The dissenting Supreme Court judge argued that employment-based benefits intended for business-use only should not be considered as personal income. Even so, the ruling may set the standard for other similar cases around the country.

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