Ohio Child Support

Ohio child support can be obtained by an administrative action or by a court order. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has an Office of Child Support Services as well as county Child Support Enforcement Agencies (CSEA) that are responsible for establishing support without the need for an actual court hearing. When a court hearing is necessary, CSEA will also assist parents in going to court. To find the appropriate regional CSEA agency, parents may visit the County Directory provided by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Court action to establish a support order may be a separate legal action brought by the parents or by CSEA and/or may involve an action to establish paternity. A child support order may also be issued as part of a divorce hearing or custody hearing. The services provided by CSEA, however, are limited to locating absentee parents, establishing paternity, establishing support orders and enforcing support orders. CSEA does not represent parents or provide assistance in divorce or custody situations.

Calculating Support in Ohio

Within the state of Ohio, it is important that every child be treated fairly and receive an appropriate amount of support. As such, the state of Ohio has established uniform guidelines used to determine how much money the non-custodial parent will pay to the custodial parent for support. The basic guidelines are found in Title 31, Chapter 3119.

According to these guidelines, two key factors determine how much support the non-custodial parent will need to pay. First, the combined family income during a calendar year is calculated, factoring in earnings from both parents and adjusting for existing support obligations and other mandatory deductions for costs such as taxes and union dues. For this calculation, the guidelines take into account combined gross income from all sources. The second factor in determining the non-custodial parent's contribution is the number of children the parents have together for whom support is being calculated. 

Using these numbers, the amount of money that both parents are expected to pay for basic support for children over the course of a year can be determined using the table found in 3119.021 (the Basic Child Support Schedule). This table contains a list of different combined incomes, and establishes the amount that families at each income level must pay for one, two, three, four, five, or six children.

Once the basic support amount is determined, each parent is responsible for a percentage of the total amount, equal to the percentage of the total combined income he contributes. A non-custodial parent who made 60 percent of the family income, for example, would be responsible for paying 60 percent of the basic support costs to the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent must also pay a portion of childcare expenses and healthcare costs for the child, but receives a reduction in the total amount of support he/she must pay if the child spends some time in his/her custody.

Enforcing Child Support

Income withholding is part of all support orders issued in Ohio. This means that the designated amount of support will be withdrawn directly from the paycheck of the parent paying support before he receives that paycheck. A parent may have his child support payments withheld not only from a paycheck earned at a job, but also from his worker's compensation payments, unemployment payments, pensions, annuities, government retirement programs, disability, sick pay, trust fund, lottery winnings or any other monetary payment.

When a parent does not pay child support for any reason, other enforcement methods are used to force payment. These may include, but are not limited to, a contempt of court citation, criminal charges, loss or suspension of a driver's license or professional license, or a reporting of the delinquent payments to the credit bureau. Ohio's CSEA will assist parents with necessary steps to enforce a support order.

Modification of a Support Order

Parents may request a review of a child support order for possible modification every 36 months. If review becomes necessary due to a significant change in circumstances, parents may also request review even if 36 months have not elapsed since the order was granted, or since the prior review. Requests for review can be made to CSEA or, in some cases, directly to the court. CSEA will also help parents take action to petition the court for a modified order.

Getting Legal Help

CSEA aims to provide comprehensive services to the children who need support. They do not represent parents in court actions, nor do they provide legal advice of any type to parents. CSEA also does not offer assistance on issues related to divorce. While parents with a simple child support case may be able to rely on CSEA alone, those with more complex claims or with other legal issues will need to seek assistance from an experienced Ohio family law attorney.