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Child Support in Ohio: What You Need to Know

Child Support in Ohio may be established and ordered by:

  • The County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA);
  • Domestic Relations Court; or
  • Juvenile Court

Each county in Ohio has a Child Support Enforcement Agency, a Juvenile Court and a Domestic Relations Court. The Ohio Revised Code, Title 31, establishes the criteria, guidelines and Child Support Worksheet to be utilized in determining appropriate child support. The Child Support Guidelines, in theory, take into account the cost of living including costs related to food, housing, transportation and medical expenses.

The Child Support formula mandates specific adjustments for the following considerations:

  • Child care expenses incurred by a parent enabling that parent to maintain employment;
  • Health insurance costs to cover a minor child;
  • Other children that each parent has living with them in their household;
  • Child support or spousal support paid in this or other cases;
  • Local income taxes paid by either parent;
  • Overtime or bonuses averaged over the last three (3) years;
  • Extraordinary reasons to deviate.

Deviation from Guideline Child Support

Ohio Law allows Courts to deviate from the Standard Child Support Computation in unusual cases. When child support is computed by CSEA, no deviation is permitted by law. When Courts compute child support, they can deviate, but generally decline most deviation requests.

Courts commonly deviate if there is extensive travel expense related to visitation, special expenses related to education or health matters.

Collection of Child Support

Ohio law requires that all child support payments are made through Ohio Child Support Payment Central (OCSPC) at PO Box 182394, Columbus, Ohio 43218. Ohio law requires that the county CSEA process the child support order, and deduct the child support from a payor’s wages. In certain cases, child support can be deducted from a bank account (with the posting of a bond). The CSEA agency has broad powers to collect child support without Court intervention, including attachment of bank accounts, tax refunds, and license suspension. The Cuyahoga County CSEA has a telephone help line to speak with a support worker at (216) 443-5100, ext 8.

Child Dependency Exemption

Ohio law requires that a Court award the child dependency exemption in all child support cases. The Court should consider the financial ramification to each parent before making the award. If CSEA is establishing the child support for the first time, the agency will not make an award, and the mother will automatically be entitled to take the child as a dependent.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Q. Does my child support automatically stop when my child becomes 18 years of age?

A. Ohio Law requires that Child Support continues until your child is both 18 years of age and finishes high school. If your child is over 18 years of age, the child support will continue if your child is enrolled on a full-time basis in an accredited high school; however, when your child turns 19 years of age, the child support will end. It is your obligation to inform CSEA of the emancipation.

Q. Will the Child Support Enforcement Agency automatically stop my child support when my child has turned 18 years and age and graduated from high school?

A. No. It is required that you bring proof to CSEA showing CSEA that your child has finished high school. Many parents will get a copy of the diploma or written documentation from the high indicating that their child has completed their senior year.

Q. Can my child support be modified?

A. Yes. Child support can be modified either through the CSEA or by the Court. Either party can file a motion to modify child support with the Court and anticipate a Court hearing on the matter. A court will not grant a modification, though, unless the moving party can show a change in circumstances that justifies the modification. A "change" occurs when a change in income results in a 10% change in the child support worksheet computation.

Q. How can I establish paternity in order to establish child support?

A. Paternity refers to a legal action to establish that a man is the father of a child. If paternity was not established in the hospital or at the registrar’s office, you can visit can establish paternity through a Juvenile Court proceeding or through your county’s Child Support Enforcement Agency ("CSEA"). You do not need an appointment at CSEA, but you should arrive in the morning and bring the following: photo ID; information about the alleged father including address and employment information; your child’s birth certificate or social security number; divorce decree, if applicable; and marriage certificate if separated. If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must accompany you to CSEA for this proceeding.

Q. What are the basic tax consequences of child support?

A. Child support is not taxable to the Obligee (person receiving the support) and is not considered income to the Obligee. Likewise, child support is not deductible for the Obligor (person paying the support).

Q. What measures can be taken when an Obligor stops paying support?

A. There are several avenues to try when an Obligor stops paying a Child Support Order. First, you can file a Motion to Show Cause (commonly called a "contempt motion") in court for failure to pay support. If the Obligor does not "purge" this Motion to Show Cause, the Obligor can face serious consequences. The Obligee (person receiving support) can attempt to seize the Obligor’s federal and state tax refunds or attempt to get access to the Obligor’s pension or retirement fund. Other potential consequences for nonsupport are the suspension of the Obligor’s driver’s license, suspension of the Obligor’s professional license, a lien on the Obligor’s real estate holdings, and potential prosecution for felony non-support (if willful).

Q. How can I locate an absent parent?

A. Your county’s CSEA can assist in locating an absent parent with the following information: full name of the parent, current or previous address, current or previous employer, social security number (if known), date or birth, or names of the parents of the absent parent. CSEA offices are linked to the federal government’s nationwide network and can assist in locating absent parents across state lines.

Q. What is a child support arrearage?

A. An "arrearage" refers to back child support that is owed to the Obligee pursuant to a court order or an administrative CSEA order that was never paid by the Obligor.

Q. Can the Court or CSEA consider a new spouse’s income for purposes of child support?

A. Generally, no. When the Obligor remarries, the Court will generally not consider the new spouse’s income for child support purposes. A Court may consider a new spouse’s income if the Court believes that the income is really the Obligor’s income and that it is being paid to the Obligor’s new spouse to avoid negative child support consequences.

Q. If I work overtime, will my child support increase?

A. Your child support will not automatically increase. If a party files a request for a CSEA review (permitted once every 3 years), or files a Motion with the Court, a modification may be ordered. As general rule child support will increase by $1 for every $10 of additional wages.

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