Child custody and child support are an important part of any divorce or separation proceedings involving children. In Ohio, specific laws and guidelines govern these matters, ensuring the best interests of the child are upheld. This blog provides an overview of child custody arrangements and child support obligations in Ohio, helping parents navigate these complex issues.
Child Custody in Ohio: When it comes to child custody in Ohio, the primary focus is the best interest of your child. The court considers factors such as the parents’ ability to provide a safe and stable environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any history of abuse or domestic violence. Years ago, a parent could have a child sign an election which the parent filed in court. Some still ask about how old a child must be to sign an election. No longer can a child sign an elect to live with one parent versus the other parent (and no attorney is able to file such); however, in rare circumstances the judge may meet with a child in the judge’s chambers to learn information from the child that is then considered by the judge in contested custody cases. Additionally, as a practical matter, parents may need to consider the desires of older children (teens), and in some cases, even eligibility for school sports/teams may be a significant factor where parents live in different school districts.
There are two main types of custody arrangements:
- Sole Custody: One parent is granted primary custody, allowing them to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The non-custodial parent usually receives visitation or parenting time rights. While parents may still refer to their time with their children as “visitation,” no longer is this terminology legally correct (other than for grandparents).
- Shared Custody: Both parents share legal and physical custody, collaborating on important decisions and parenting responsibilities. A parenting plan is created to outline the division of time and responsibilities. This is now called “shared parenting.”
Child Support in Ohio: Child support is crucial for ensuring the financial well-being of the child. In Ohio, child support is calculated using the Income Shares Model. This model considers the income of both parents, the number of children, and the cost of living. The following factors are considered:
- Gross Income: Wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, and self-employment earnings of both parents are factored into the calculation.
- Child-Related Expenses: Costs such as health insurance, daycare, and extraordinary medical expenses are taken into consideration.
- Parenting Time: The amount of time each parent spends with the child affects child support calculations.
- Child Support Deviation: While the Ohio child support guideline calculation worksheet must always be completed and attached to the parents’ filings in court, often the parents agree to “deviate” from the guideline amount, either up or down, and sometime down to zero, however, the parents must provide to the court reasons justifying “deviation” which usually include that the parents are paying for all child related expenditures directly and equitably splitting these costs between them.
- Child Support Payments: If a parent is paying child support, denominated as “child support,” it must be paid through the Child Support Enforcement Agency (Child Support Central) with an additional processing fee (e.g., 2%) that is paid by the payor parent. This is often the best way to have a record of what support is paid and to ensure that support is paid. Child support payments can either be withheld from the payor’s wages by his/her employer or withheld from the payor’s designated financial institution bank account.
Modification and Enforcement: Child custody and child support arrangements may require modification over time due to changing circumstances. You can request modifications if there is a significant change in income, employment, or living arrangements. In cases of non-compliance with child support orders, enforcement measures can be taken, such as wage garnishment or license suspension.
Understanding child custody and child support laws in Ohio helps parents navigating divorce or separation. By prioritizing the best interests of the child and seeking legal guidance, you and your spouse can ensure a fair and stable arrangement that supports the child’s well-being and financial security.
Contact The Law Office of Nancy L. Sponseller
For questions regarding child custody and child support please contact Nancy Sponseller at (614) 764-0423 to schedule a consultation. The Law Office of Nancy L. Sponseller is located at 5890 Sawmill Road, Suite 110, Dublin, OH 43017.