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Child Support & Child Custody Agreements in Cincinnati, OH

Daughter on Mother's LapOhio’s child support and custody laws aim to provide children with a consistent, loving home environment and ensure both parents contribute financially to meeting the child’s basic needs. To do so, the court strives to act in the child’s best interests when making decisions related to custody and follows an Income Shares Model to calculate child support.

That’s the broad description. There are actually a lot of factors that the court considers when making these decisions. Below we discuss some of the basic tenants of child custody and support and explain how the court will make decisions affecting your children.

Who decides matters of child custody in a Cincinnati divorce?

Ohio law gives spouses the opportunity to file for dissolution of marriage instead of divorce. While both terminate the marriage, dissolution allows the spouses to negotiate an agreement, which includes a parenting plan that addresses matters such as child custody and visitation schedules, before submitting the dissolution petition to the court.

Parenting plans are required in every case when there are children involved. Before the court will dissolve the marriage, parents must outline the care of the children. This plan includes a number of factors, including:

  • Parental rights and responsibilities
  • The child’s place of residence
  • Legal custodianship of the children
  • Visitation schedules and parenting time
  • Holiday and vacation arrangements
  • Child support
  • Health insurance, tuition, and other financial support

If the parents cannot reach an agreement through dissolution of marriage or collaborative divorce, the court will have to hand down a custody order and parenting plan as a part of the divorce action. Ohio law requires courts make all custody decisions with the best interests of the children in mind. Judges cannot give preference to either parent based on income, standard of living, gender, or other similar factors.

How does the court decide what is in the child’s best interests?

When it comes to allocating custody and parental rights, the court must weigh a number of factors to determine what would best serve the children. Factors the court may consider relevant include:

  • Any agreements negotiated by the parents
  • The child’s adjustment to the current arrangement in place during divorce proceedings
  • The wishes or concerns expressed by older children or wishes expressed by a guardian ad litem appointed to the children
  • The relationship the child has with each parent, sibling, or grandparent present in either home
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • Which parent is most supportive of the child having a sustained relationship with both parents, including honoring visitation and shared parenting orders
  • How well-adjusted the child is to his current school, neighborhood, etc
  • If either parent has plans to reside in another state

In some situations, an in-depth investigation may be necessary to determine the best interests of the child. This investigation may include background checks for past criminal offenses, interviews with character witnesses for each parent and any other adults living in the household, and psychological exams of both parents and the children.

What custody arrangements might the court order?

When the court decides child custody during a divorce dispute, it generally has three options:

  • Shared parenting
  • Sole custody with visitation
  • Sole custody with no visitation

Whenever it is feasible and within the best interests of the child, Ohio courts are encouraged to order a shared parenting plan that allows both parents to have regular contact and quality time with their children. In this type of arrangement, the parents share many aspects of both physical and legal custody of the children. Only rarely will the court award sole custody without regular visitation.

How does the court calculate child support in Ohio?

Ohio uses a set schedule when calculating child support for most domestic relations cases. Known as the Income Shares Model (explained below), this schedule applies anytime the parents’ combined gross income is between $6,600 and $150,000.

If the parents have a combined annual gross income of less than $6,600 or more than $150,000, the courts calculate the amount of child support ordered on a case-by-case basis. For situations with low-income parents, it is important that the court allow both parents enough money to maintain shelter and meet their own basic needs. Courts attempt to order child support amounts that allow the children to enjoy a similar standard of living to which they were accustomed before the divorce.

What factors does the court consider under the Ohio child support schedule?

Under the Income Shares Model, Ohio bases the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation on each parent’s income and the number of children they have. The court will combine the parents’ income and then calculate the proportion of that combined income that the non-custodial parent earns.

For example, if the custodial parent has an annual income of $40,000 and the non-custodial parent has an annual income of $60,000, for a total combined income of $100,000 among the parents, then the non-custodial parent would be responsible for 60 percent of the costs required to support the children. The court uses a chart to estimate the cost of supporting the child based on parental income and number of children.

But the court considers a number of other factors as well:

  • How much time the child spends with each parent
  • Whether either parent must pay child support for children from a previous relationship
  • Which parent provides health insurance, pays tuition, and other costs
  • Other financial obligations such as income taxes and work-related fees

How can The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A. help?

As you can see, there are a lot of factors the court considers in child custody and support cases. Work with an attorney at The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A. located in Cincinnati, Ohio. We will put our family law experience to work, helping you ensure the best possible future for your children. Contact us today at 513-621-8700 to schedule an appointment.