Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
IN RE: M.W. A Minor Child
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Juvenile Division Case No. SU 15709668
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Jeffrey F. Slavin.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES For K.S. Ellen S. Mandell.
CCDCFS Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor,
Terri M. Hammons-Brown, Daniel A. Starett Assistant
GUARDIAN AD LITEM Susan K. Jankite.
BEFORE: McCormack, J., E.A. Gallagher, A.J., and Celebrezze,
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
Defendant-appellant J.W. ("Father") appeals from a
judgment of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile
Division, establishing child support. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm.
History and Factual Background
Father and K.S. ("Mother") had a relationship from
which a minor child, M.W., was born in 2003. Mother and
Father had an "on-again-off-again" relationship for
a period of time but never married.
In November 2013, the court issued a parenting plan and
Mother was awarded custody of M.W. The parties later agreed
to a modification of the parenting plan wherein Mother
remained the custodial parent and Father received additional
parenting time. On June 25, 2015, the Cuyahoga Job and Family
Services ("CJFS") issued an administrative child
support order. Father filed an objection to the child support
order, alleging that he had no input into the child support
calculations, he objected to the administrative order, and
the child support order was based on daycare that was not
being paid. Thereafter, Mother filed a motion for past care
child support, seeking child support from the date of the
child's birth, and Father filed a motion for child
The court heard the matter on January 4, 2017, and March 15,
Both Mother and Father testified. Mother testified that M.W.
has lived with her from the child's birth until the
present. Although Father testified that he and Mother lived
together for a period of time, Mother denied that they ever
resided together. Initially, the parents developed their own
schedule as it related to visitation with the child. When
M.W. began preschool, the parenting schedule was more
structured, and the parents developed a definitive parenting
schedule for Tuesday and Thursday after school. M.W. attended
daycare from birth until kindergarten, for which the parents
equally shared the cost. For several months, Father utilized
a low-income daycare voucher he obtained through Cuyahoga
County, and Mother paid the difference. The parties testified
that before M.W. attended parochial grade school, Father
contributed $100 in tuition and $100 for aftercare programs
and school lunches. Father had parenting time four to five
days per week.
Mother and M.W. moved to Chicago for one year, during the
2012-2013 school year, when the child was ten years old.
Father visited M.W. approximately twice in Chicago, and M.W.
would go to Cleveland every other weekend for visits with
Father. The parents both testified that when Mother and M.W.
returned to Cleveland, Mother and Father shared the costs of
two summer camps, which cost approximately $600 each camp.
The Garfield Heights residence owned by Mother became rental
property for Mother when she returned from Chicago. Mother
provided that her rental income is reflected on her tax
From kindergarten through the third grade, M.W. attended a
parochial grade school. Mother testified that tuition was
approximately $3, 000 annually. Mother also testified that
both parents agreed upon private education for M.W. Mother
stated that she wanted M.W. to continue with a parochial high
school education as well, because she has always been an
advocate of Catholic schools and she prefers that environment
for her son. She testified that she and Father never agreed
to move M.W. to public schools after the eighth grade. The
tuition for the parochial high school was approximately $14,
000 at the time of trial.
Mother stated that from August 2013 until November 2015,
Father paid for aftercare and hot lunches, which was during
M.W.'s first through third grades. The actual amount paid
is unknown because no receipts were exchanged. Mother
testified that she requested Father to assist with basic
needs of the child, such as the costs of a specific activity,
sports, equipment, or a vacation. She cannot recall if Father
paid for some of M.W.'s clothes prior to 2011, but she
recalled that Father paid for the costs of extracurricular
activities upon request 50 percent of the time. Mother
testified that she requested child support in 2013 because
the costs associated with M.W. increased and the amount of
Father's contribution was no longer sufficient. She also
testified that she did not seek more support from him prior
to that time because Father would retaliate by not picking up
their son. Mother stated that she pays for all of M.W.'s
uncovered medical expenses, including $4, 000 for braces and
additional costs incurred for emergency room visits and
yearly physicals, and she never requested financial
assistance from Father for these costs.
Mother is employed by the Sherwin-Williams Company. According
to Mother's tax returns, her adjusted gross annual income
increased from $56, 869 in 2011 to $106, 851 in 2015. Mother
testified that her 2016 income was approximately $120, 000.
Father is currently employed by the city of Cleveland. Father
provided W-2's for 2011-2015, but he did not have a W-2
for 2016. He estimated his current income at approximately
$57, 000. He received a tax refund of $4, 692.29 in 2015.
Father owns rental property. Father testified, however, that
he operates the property at a loss, due to maintenance
expenses and depreciation. According to Father, his rental
expenses amounted to approximately $20, 000. He testified
that he paid approximately $3, 000 in remodeling expenses,
and his parents loaned him an additional $5, 000 for the
remodeling. His rental property is a duplex, and according to
Father, he has not been able to rent out one-half of the
duplex. He owns a 2013 Chevy Tahoe truck, for which he pays
$500 per month.
Father calculated that he and Mother shared the cost of
daycare, which was approximately $750 per month. He testified
that after the third grade, Father paid $200 each month for
tuition and $50 for lunches, and he also paid approximately
$300 per month when he exercised parenting time in Chicago.
He stopped paying tuition when the court ordered child
support. Father stated that he had possession of the child
every weekend during flag football season. He also stated
that he purchased a new home and moved to Mayfield Heights.
He stopped paying tuition because he believed that M.W. could
attend a good public school in his district. He did not
discuss his intent with Mother before moving.
According to the parenting plan issued in November 2013,
Mother remained the custodial parent, and the parenting time
was designated as follows: M.W. is with Father on Tuesdays
and Thursdays after school until drop-off at school the next
morning; M.W. is with Father on alternate weekends from
Friday evening after school until Sunday, no later than 5:00
p.m.; holidays shall be alternated, with Mother having
parenting time in odd-numbered years and Father having
parenting time in even-numbered years, or as otherwise agreed
by the parties; Mother and Father will split each of the
school's winter and spring breaks; and for summer
vacation, each parent may exercise up to two weeks of
uninterrupted vacation time, with the remainder of the summer
on the regular schedule. In November 2015, upon Father's
motion, the parties entered into a modified parenting plan.
The modified plan increased Father's parenting time such
that alternate Sundays were extended to Monday mornings, and
if there was no school Monday morning, Father would make
daytime childcare arrangements until the end of the day when
Mother's parenting time commenced.
On June 5, 2017, the court issued a decision in which it
granted Father's objections, in part; denied Father's
motion for child support; and granted Mother's motion for
past care child support, in part.
Father now appeals, raising the following assignments of
I. The judgment of the trial court in failing to deviate from
the child support obligation of the appellant, as determined
by child support computation worksheets, was an abuse of
II. The judgment of the trial court in ordering the appellant
to pay one-half of court costs was an abuse of discretion.
III. The judgment of the trial court, in adopting child
support computation worksheets giving child support to the
appellee, failed to consider the parenting time of the
appellant and the incomes of the appellee and the appellant
such that the appellant was entitled to child support from
the appellee, which was an abuse of discretion.
IV. The failure of the trial court to issue findings of fact
and conclusions of law was an abuse of discretion.
In his first assignment of error, Father contends that the
trial court erred in failing to deviate from his child
support obligation as determined by the child support
computation worksheets. Father also contends, in his third
assignment of error, that the trial court erred in failing to
consider his increase in parenting time as well as the income
disparity between Mother and Father. Father argues that his
parenting time was two weekend overnights below 50 percent of
parenting time before his parenting time increased to just
over 50 percent. He also claims that despite his income being
substantially less than Mother's, he contributed to the
cost of tuition, daycare, and school lunches prior to the