In Ohio, the Ohio Revised Codes Section 3119 outlines the state's child support guidelines as required by federal child support laws. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Office of Child Support Enforcement holds primary responsibility for administration and enforcement of these guidelines.
Obtaining Child Support
If you need to establish a child support order, you may do so in multiple ways:
- Contact your local Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) to apply for services.
- Seek child support as part of your divorce action.
- Hire an attorney.
The Ohio support guidelines outline the method of calculating the basic support obligation. Support calculations are based on both parents' incomes. Figures used to calculate income include:
- Wages and salary
- An averaged amount of overtime, tips, bonuses, and commission from the past three years
- Self-employment income from the previous year minus reasonable and necessary business expenses
- Retirement income
- Interest and dividends
- Disability payments or worker's compensation
Parents are allowed to adjust their income based on the following deductions:
- Deductions for minor dependent children living with the parent
- Court-ordered child support obligations
- Court-ordered spousal support obligations
- Mandatory work-related deductions
- Work-related childcare expenses for the child in the order
- Out-of-pocket healthcare costs, including health insurance costs
Once all of these factors have been calculated, the parents' combined gross income is calculated. The child's basic support is based on the Basic Support Table, which considers the number of children and the combined gross income of both parents. Each parent is then assigned a percentage of the combined gross income based on his or her contribution. That percentage is applied to the basic support obligation, and the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent that support amount.
For example, if both parents make $1,000 per month and there is one child, then each parent is assigned 50 percent of the basic support obligation. With the combined gross income equaling $24,000 per year, the basic support obligation is $4,471 per year (according to the support table). That means the total combined support obligation is $372.00, and the non-custodial parent's obligation is 50 percent of that.
The courts may grant deviations from a standard support amount for a number of reasons:
- Any special financial needs the child may have
- Extended visitation or shared custody
- Extraordinary educational expenses
- Extraordinary in-kind payments by one parent such as lessons or sports
- Standard of living of each parent
- Extraordinary health care expenses
Child support orders make provisions for medical support of the child. If reasonably priced insurance is available, both parents may be required to maintain health insurance for the child. Expenses that are not covered by insurance may also be apportioned in the support order, typically based on each parent's percentage of the combined gross income.
Child support orders can be reviewed every three years, starting 36 months after the establishment of the original order. Either parent can request a modification review. Reasons a child support modification may be granted include:
- Significant and permanent changes in income of 30 percent or greater
- A job layoff
To determine whether you are eligible for a child support modification, complete the Review and Adjustment Eligibility Questionnaire. If you are, then complete an application for a child support review.
Collection and Distribution
Ohio law considers direct support payments from one parent to another a gift that does not apply to a support obligation. All payments must be made via income withholding (payroll deduction). Custodial parents can receive payment via direct deposit or a prepaid debit card.
The CSEA will investigate the possibility of termination of support. The non-custodial parent can request an investigation by contacting the CSEA.