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Ohio child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Ohio child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Ohio child support determined?

In Ohio, either or both parents may be ordered to pay child support. Marital misconduct will not be considered. Health care insurance may be ordered to be provided for the child and the spouse.

There are official Ohio Child Support Guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to help determine the correct amount of child support. These guidelines are based on a pro rated share for each parent of the combined net income of both parents. These guidelines will be followed, unless the parents have agreed to a child support amount on their own, or the court finds these guidelines unjust for a particular case. Special factors for adjusting the guidelines include:

  • special or unusual needs of the child
  • obligations for other minor or handicapped children
  • other court-ordered payments
  • extended visitation or extraordinary expenses for visitation
  • mandatory wage deductions
  • a great difference in income in the two parent¹s households
  • benefits that either parent receives from remarrying or from sharing living expenses with others
  • taxes
  • significant contributions from a parent toward the child’s expenses
  • the financial resources and earning power of the child
  • the standard or living of each parent and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had continued
  • the age and the physical, emotional and general needs of the child
  • the medical and educational needs of the child
  • comparing the earning power, financial resources, assets, needs and obligations of each parent
  • the educational aptitude of the child and any educational opportunities
  • the responsibility of each parent for the support of others
  • the value of services contributed by the custodial parent
  • other relevant factors

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, or is removed from disability status by a court order.

Ohio's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about parenting and custody. Joint custody arrangements have become commonplace. If
there is no agreement between the parents, then the courts will make these decisions.

In Ohio, custody is referred to as "parental rights and responsibilities." Joint custody is referred to as "shared parenting."

Shared parenting or sole parental rights and responsibilities may be awarded based on the best interests of the child. Both parents are considered to have equal rights to custody. The factors the courts consider are:

  • the child’s preference
  • the child’s adjustment to home, school and community settings
  • the mental and physical health of all involved
  • the child’s relationship with each significant family member
  • whether one parent has willfully denied visitation to the other parent
  • any history of abuse or domestic violence by a parent or anyone who will reside in the household
  • whether either parent lives or intends to move outside Ohio
  • the ability of the parents to make joint decisions
  • the health and safety of the child
  • the distance between the two parents' households, as it relates to shared parenting
  • the child's available time to spend with parents and siblings and each parent's available time
  • any failure to pay child support
  • other relevant factors

For shared parenting to be awarded, both parents must request it and they must submit a shared parenting plan. The financial status of a parent is not considered in allocating parental rights and responsibilities.

Ohio's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If it is not, the courts may order a parent to provide health insurance coverage for the child.

How permanent are the provisions for Ohio child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Most states, including Ohio, have a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. The payments are withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to an agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan. In Ohio, joint custody is called shared parenting.

Specifically, shared parenting is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While shared parenting is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Often one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How Ohio determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree to exactly when visitation will occur, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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