from Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of
Domestic Relations, (C.P.C. No. 12JU-12886) Juvenile Branch
King, for appellant.
C. Lee, for appellee.
1} Plaintiff-appellant, Mohammed Habib, appeals from
a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas,
Division of Domestic Relations, Juvenile Branch, in favor of
defendant-appellee, Hawa Shikur. For the reasons that follow,
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2} The parties have never been married but have
three minor children together. Appellant has been paying
court-ordered child support for the three minor children
since 2012. Appellant also has three children living in
Ethiopia and for whom he claims to pay court-ordered child
3} On March 9, 2016, pursuant to R.C. 3119.60
through 3119.71, the Franklin County Child Support
Enforcement Agency ("FCCSEA") notified the parties
of a proposed administrative adjustment to the current child
support order, raising the amount of child support to be paid
by appellant to $379.39. On March 28, 2016, an Administrative
Hearing Officer ("AHO") conducted a hearing on the
matter. On September 22, 2016, the AHO issued a decision
modifying appellant's child support obligation in
accordance with the administrator's recommendation.
4} Both parties disagreed with the hearing
officer's decision and requested an adjustment court
hearing. On December 22, 2016, FCCSEA moved to intervene in
the case. On January 4, 2017, a magistrate held a hearing on
the parties' request for adjustment.
5} At the hearing before the magistrate, appellant
testified that he works as a self-employed taxi driver and
that his net income for the previous year was $14, 685.48.
Appellant also testified that in 2016 he paid $1, 800 in
court-ordered child support for his children living in
Ethiopia. Appellant acknowledged that he claimed the
dependency exemption for his three children with appellee
when he filed his 2016 federal income tax return and that he
received a refund of more than $5, 000.
6} On February 15, 2017, the magistrate issued a
decision in the matter. The magistrate ordered appellant to
pay child support in accordance with guidelines of $183.78
per month for each child plus a processing charge and $38.58
per month in cash medical support plus a processing charge.
The magistrate also ordered the parties to each pay 50
percent of the cost of medical expenses exceeding the amount
paid by appellant. The magistrate awarded the child
dependency tax exemption for each of the three children to
7} On March 2, 2017, appellant filed the following
objections to the magistrate's decision:
1. The Magistrate failed to properly interpret O.R.C.
3119.05(A) and (B), and The Magistrate erred in her child
support worksheet wherein she provided zero deductions for
ordinary and necessary business expenses, and for Plaintiffs
child support payments to his children in Ethiopia.
2. The Magistrate erred in awarding all three (3) income tax
exemptions to Defendant.
3. The Magistrate ignored the requirements of O.R.C. 3119.08.
8} The trial court issued a decision and entry on
September 29, 2017 overruling appellant's objections and
adopting the magistrate's decision. Appellant timely
appealed to this court from the trial court decision.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR
9} Appellant assigns the following as trial court
The trial court erred in overruling Appellant's
objections to the Magistrate's Decision.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
10} Pursuant to Juv.R. 40(D)(4)(d), "[i]f one
or more objections to a magistrate's decision are timely
filed, the court shall rule on those objections. In ruling on
objections, the court shall undertake an independent review
as to the objected matters to ascertain that the magistrate
has properly determined the factual issues and appropriately
applied the law." Thus," '[a] trial court
considering a party's objections to a magistrate's
decision must independently assess the facts and conclusions
contained in the magistrate's decision, thereby
undertaking the equivalent of a de novo determination in
light of any filed objections.'" In re
J.P., 10th Dist. No. 16AP-61, 2016-Ohio-7574, ¶ 13,
quoting In re H.D.D., 10th Dist. No. 12AP-134,
2012-Ohio-6160, ¶ 90. "Appellate courts
'generally review a trial court's adoption, denial or
modification of a magistrate's decision for an abuse of
discretion.'" In re D.S., 10th Dist. No.
15AP-487, 2016-Ohio-2810, ¶ 9, rev'd on other
grounds, 152 Ohio St.3d 109, 2017-Ohio-8289, quoting
Brunetto v. Curtis, 10th Dist. No. 10AP-799,
2011-Ohio-1610, ¶ 10. "However, where the appeal
from the trial court's action on a magistrate's
decision presents only a question of law, the standard of
review is de novo." In re D.S. at ¶
11} In appellant's assignment of error,
appellant challenges three distinct aspects of the trial
court's ruling: the amount of his child support
obligation, the allocation to appellee of the federal income
tax deduction for the three minor children, and his parenting
time. For the reasons that follow, we find that the trial
court did not err with regard to these issues.
12} Appellant claims the trial court erred when it
found appellant failed to provide necessary evidentiary
support for certain business expenses allegedly incurred in
generating his self-employed income as a taxi driver and by
not giving him credit for child support payments made for his
children in Ethiopia. We disagree.
13} Appellant first contends the trial court erred
when it adopted the magistrate's determination regarding
his yearly gross income. "The underlying purpose of
Ohio's child support legislation * * * is to meet the
current needs of the minor child." Harbour v.
Ridgeway, 10th Dist. No. 04AP-350, 2005-Ohio-2643,
¶ 34. See also Bates v. Bates, 10th Dist. No.
04AP-137, 2005-Ohio-3374, ¶ 21. "The starting point
for determining the proper amount of child support to be paid
is parental income, defined as gross income for those
employed to full capacity or gross income plus potential
income for those not employed to full ...