Parents in Ohio who pay and receive support for their children often misunderstand the law. A parent can get upset when they think they’re getting shortchanged because they don’t know how the law works. They may incorrectly believe they’re complying with the law or mistakenly think the other parent is breaking it.
This can lead to unnecessary stress, contention, and legal battles.
Child Support Myths and Realities
Parents need to understand their rights and obligations to make informed decisions. Here are some of the most common myths and misunderstandings regarding child support in Ohio and what the law says.
Myth #1: The Child’s Needs Drive the Amount
The Truth: It’s primarily based on the parents’ incomes. Ohio’s child support formula looks at the parents’ gross incomes and combines them. Some deductions include local income taxes, support paid for other children, or spousal support the party pays or receives. This helps calculate the amount of child support which is supposed to split the costs of raising a child fairly.
That amount may increase so the child enjoys the lifestyle that would be expected if the marriage didn’t end. If a child is disabled or has high medical or psychiatric expenses, that may also boost the child support payments.
Myth #2: Child Support Must Be Spent on the Child
The Truth: It should be spent on the child, but a court won’t ask for an accounting unless it’s an extreme case. In Ohio, support can be spent on mortgage payments, rent, utility bills, transportation, entertainment, and other costs that support the child’s welfare. The parent living with the child also benefits from some of this spending, but that doesn’t make it improper.
If you learn the other parent is neglecting your child and their basic needs aren’t being met, it should be brought to the court’s attention. If the other parent is incapable of caring for your child, you might get primary custody. If that happens, the other parent will pay support.
Myth #3: If a Parent Moves Out of Ohio, They No Longer Need to Pay
The Truth: The obligation to pay child support follows the parent wherever they go, even outside the country.
Myth #4: A Parent Can Avoid Child Support If They Quit
The Truth: If a parent intentionally quits avoiding payments and stops paying, the other parent can take the matter to court. If there’s no legitimate reason to leave, a judge may continue the obligation unchanged. If there’s a valid reason to be unemployed, a judge may base the payments on the type of job the parent is qualified to get or at least a full-time minimum wage job.
If you ask the court to change how much you pay, you must show “a substantial change of circumstances that was not contemplated at the time of the issuance of the original child support order…” according to state law. Even if you have evidence to back up your argument, the amount may not change if that would be “…unjust or inappropriate and therefore not in the best interest of the child.”
Myth #5: Children With a New Partner Decrease Child Support Payments
The Truth: One of the factors in determining child support is the number of children the parent supports. The payments may or may not decrease based on the overall situation.
If your income goes up when you have another child, the support amount may stay the same or go up depending on the size of the increase.
Myth #6: Payments Can Stop If There’s No Visitation Allowed
The Truth: The payments support the child, no matter what other problems the other parent may cause. Whether the other parent complies with custody or visitation requirements or not is irrelevant to paying child support. If the other parent’s not complying with a court order, it should be enforced or changed.
Myth #7: Child Support Stops When the Child Turns 18
The Truth: That’s generally true, but there are exceptions. Under state statute, the obligation to pay continues when:
- The child is physically or mentally disabled and can’t support themselves
- The parents agreed to continue support after the eighteenth birthday in a separation agreement that’s part of a divorce or dissolution decree
- The child attends a recognized and accredited high school full-time on and after the eighteenth birthday
If you pay child support, you can’t assume that obligation will end when your child turns 18.
Need Help With Child Support? Call Erb Legal.
Erb Legal represents Akron and Medina, Ohio, parents facing child custody and support issues. Through negotiation and legal action, our clients get the best outcomes possible. For help, call 330-446-3606 or use our online form.