In the state of Ohio, child custody is referred to as the “allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.” If parties to a divorce action are unable to agree on a custody arrangement, the court will make an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities in the manner which it determines is in the best interest of the children – either primarily to one parent, who is designated as the residential parent and legal custodian of the child or children, or to both parents in the form of a shared parenting order. If the court does not use a shared parenting agreement, one parent can be awarded sole custody. Occasionally, a non-parent could be awarded custody if both parents are found to be unfit. This is not very common, but most often happens in cases where Child Services are involved. The court will look to what is in the best interests of the minor child or children in making a determination. Often a guardian ad litem can be appointed to help the court make this decision.
The court is required to calculate the amount of child support to be paid by the non-residential parent in accordance with guidelines established by the Ohio Supreme Court. The guidelines take into consideration, among other factors, the income of both parents; work and education related child-care expenses incurred by either parent; or the cost of medical care, including the cost of health insurance. There is software that provides a statutory amount that is to be split between the parents, with a nonresidential parent paying the residential parent the percentage they are responsible for. Parties can choose to deviate from the statutory amount of support for various reasons such as out of pocket expenses or time spent with children. The most common reason that a parent seeks to deviate or modify the agreed child support agreement is because the current child support agreement is unfair or unjust or is not in the best interest of the child. Deviation is usually granted when adhering to the standard formula for child support would be highly unfair to the paying parent, and/or not in the best interests of the child. Generally, courts will place the best interests of the child over the financial comfort of the supporting parent. In March of 2019, new child support laws were implemented that allow for a 10% deviation for a nonresidential parent who spends over 90 overnights with the child or children. Child support is also modifiable if the parties have had a significant change of income. Our attorneys can help you determine whether child support can be deviated or modified by running a child support guidelines worksheet for you.