How Do Spousal Support and Child Support Work in Ohio?

Couple working out spousal support & child support agreements
March 21, 2022

Financial stressors can quickly come to the fore both during and after divorce proceedings. From debt repayment to property division, there are countless factors that could threaten either party’s financial security. One common question that arises is: how will a dependent spouse and any children be able to live comfortably after a divorce? Spousal support and child support are the answer, and we’re going to share what you need to know about these two types of support in Ohio.

Alimony in Ohio

The provision that was once called “alimony” is now referred to as “spousal support” in Ohio. This term is defined as the amount paid from one spouse to the other following a divorce. Payments could be made indefinitely, barring remarriage, or confined to a specific period of time. The intent behind spousal support is to help the dependent spouse maintain a lifestyle consistent with what they experienced while married. 

Spousal support is meant to make up for lost wages or the inability to to earn wages, but is centered on an equitable approach. It’s important to note that while in the past women were traditionally thought to be the spouses seeking support, modern provisions are based strictly on income and available resources, not gender.

Spousal Support During Divorce

If during divorce proceedings a previously dependent spouse finds it difficult or impossible to support themselves, a request can be made for assistance before the divorce is final. This temporary court order will be replaced by the court’s final and official spousal support order. Support can also be sought in the case of legal separation. These are not automatic provisions, and must be requested. 

Ohio Spousal Support Factors

Spousal support in Ohio can be based on an array of factors that collectively help to determine the appropriate sum. When deciding whether support is necessary and when landing on the most fitting amount of support, the court will do so after the division of property and will take into consideration things like:

  • age, income and employment situation of each spouse
  • physical, mental and emotional health of each parent
  • division of assets
  • living expenses for each household and standard of living established during the marriage
  • length of the marriage and reasons for the divorce
  • each party’s financial circumstances and earning potential, including whether a parent is able to work outside the home due to childcare responsibilities

Besides the above list, the court could require any number of additional, relevant facts that they feel will help to equitably settle matters.

Once the spousal support decree is finalized it is possible for a spouse to request an adjustment to a support determination in certain situations, but this ability must be expressly noted in the divorce decree. Most often the individual requesting a modification will need to prove that they experienced an unforeseeable change in their circumstances. Reasons could include a drastic change in economic conditions, remarriage, cohabitation, death, retirement, and other situations that the court deems valid.

Ohio Child Support

Child support in Ohio serves the same purpose it does in any other state: providing for the health, wellbeing, and physical needs of children whose parents are no longer together. While many may think of child support as being a result of divorce, it can also apply to situations in which parents were never married. 

Basic guidelines use parents’ combined income, the number of children involved, healthcare and child care costs to help in determining child support awards. Income can be defined not just as take-home pay from employment, but can also include tips and commissions, pensions and annuities, along with investment gains and disability or federal aid. Income does not include earnings of a parent’s spouse, if they remarry. If a parent could work but chooses not to or is purposely underemployed, the court has the authority to use their potential earning power when calculating child support.

A child support calculator for Ohio families employs a formula that is part of state law. It uses the parents’ combined gross income, allows for certain standard deductions, and then applies the sum to a chart that calculates the child support necessary to eliminate financial burdens and equalize financial responsibility. The resulting “guideline child support” figure is presumed to be correct and subsequently put into effect by the court.

When does child support end in Ohio? State law dictates that child support payments continue until a child turns 18, unless they are still enrolled full-time in an accredited high school. In that case, payment would continue until graduation.

Remarriage and Child Support

Each child support case is distinct, and remarriage is the perfect illustration of that truth. If a paying parent remarries, the receiving parent might petition for a modification based on the change of circumstances. While the court cannot take into account the new spouse’s income, they can factor in the lessening of household expenses that has likely occurred. They could determine that because the payer’s cost of living has dropped, there could be more income available to help support their child. If the payer can prove that their financial situation hasn’t actually changed, the court might rule against such a request for modification. 

Should the paying parent and their new spouse go on to have a child together, they have the right to request a recalculation. Though there is no explicit law on the matter, a precedent does exist that allows the custodial parent’s remarriage to be a factor in determining child support needs. As it is with the non-custodial parent, remarriage will generally reduce overall household expenses per person, which can affect income and thus impact a support decision.

Turn to a Trusted Child Custody Lawyer

Divorce, child support and spousal support can be complex topics that can easily become overwhelming, especially if you’re the one going through the process. Even if you know the basics, there are always variables and deviations that could affect your situation directly. Consulting with a reliable family lawyer ensures that your rights are protected and your children can be cared for. Whether you are in the midst of a divorce and struggling financially, are legally separated, or are divorced but have experienced a change in circumstances, the Law Offices of Cara L. Santosuosso can help. If you’re considering divorce but need first need answers regarding Ohio child support laws, get in touch with our team. We are skilled child support lawyers and our goal is always to ensure the wellbeing and support of Ohio’s children and parents.