A.S. v. J.W., Case No. 2018-0602
Sixth District Court of Appeals (Lucas County)
ISSUE: For the purpose of calculating child support, are commissions treated in the same manner as overtime and bonuses when determining "gross income"?
A couple identified in court documents as A.S. and J.W. had a child, who was born in February 2015. The couple ended their relationship before the child was born, but the parents were cooperating and agreed to a shared parenting plan in July 2016. In September 2016, A.S. filed a complaint to establish parental rights and responsibilities and, in August 2016, a trial was conducted on economic issues.
The parties presented their incomes from the prior few years and the mother, A.S., indicated she earned $131,000 in 2015 and expected to earn $140,000 in 2016. J.W. testified that the bulk of his earnings were through commissions and, in 2015, he had a base salary of $90,000 and received $212,000 in commissions. For 2016, he stated his salary would increase to $94,000 and his 2016 commissions would be about $369,000. J.W. testified that the 2016 commission was abnormally high due to the product of several years of work that came to fruition in 2016.
The magistrate hearing the case ordered J.W. to pay $2,984 per month through 2015 and that beginning in 2016, he would pay $4,372 per month. The magistrate stated the increase was calculated by including the 2016 commission in a three-year average of J.W.'s gross income. The trial court adopted the magistrate's decision, and J.W. objected to the child support award. The trial court affirmed the decision in March 2017, and the father appealed to the Sixth District Court of Appeals.
Citing R.C. 3119.05(D), J.W. argued that the law prohibited the trial court from using his 2016 commissions to establish his child support obligation. The Sixth District affirmed the lower court decision, noting that the state legislature "mistakenly included commissions" in portions of R.C. 3119.05(D), and that the trial court was justified in using the payments to calculate child support.
J.W. appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.