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Your Columbus Child Support Case: The Basics

From Comfest, to the Doo Dah Parade, to Buckeye tailgates, we love to get together in Columbus. Maybe your romance got started there or in the Park of Roses, but if it ended in the Biggest Small Town in America, you might need an insider’s guide to ensuring that your kids are taken care of. So here are just a few of the basic ins and outs of Columbus child support law.

How Does Child Support Work?

As part of divorce or legal separation proceedings, a court may order one parent, usually the one without custody of the children (non-custodial), to pay the custodial parent child support in order to provide for the care and wellbeing of minor children. If the custodial parent is the mother, she must first establish the paternity of the non-custodial parent before receiving child support (if parents are married, this will be presumed).

In Columbus, a non-custodial parent could pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18, or completes high school. Child support could end earlier if the child enlists in the military, marries, or becomes legally emancipated. As part of a divorce settlement, a paying parent can agree to continue supporting a child through college, or both parents can agree to share college expenses.

The Child Support Enforcement Agency in Franklin County is responsible for establishing and enforcing child support in Columbus. The CSEA can be your resource for:

  • Establishing paternity;
  • Locating absent parents;
  • Creating, enforcing, and modifying child support orders; and
  • Collecting and distributing child support.

How Do I File For Child Support in Columbus?

The CSEA has online resources for filing for child support in Columbus. You will need to file an Application for Child Support, and you may also be required to file copies of:

  • A divorce decree, separation agreement, or court order for child support;
  • An acknowledgment of paternity, if one is needed and has been signed;
  • A birth certificate for each child involved;
  • All financial documents reflecting income and assets (like paycheck stubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc.); and/or
  • Any evidence of child support payment history.

The Child Support Enforcement Agency is located 80 E. Fulton Street in Columbus, and can be reached at (614) 525-3275.

How Much Child Support Can I Get?

Child support in Ohio is calculated based state law guidelines. The formula combines both parents’ gross income, minus some deductions like local income tax, any other child or spousal support orders, and federal dependency exemptions. This total is then applied to a chart that identifies the amount of support required to raise children based on their parents’ income. The non-custodial parent will then pay his or her share of the charted amount. For example:

  • You earn $10,000 per year and are the custodial parent;
  • Your ex earns $30,000 per year and is the non-custodial parent;
  • The combined gross income is $40,000;
  • For one child, the charted amount is about $6,500 per year;
  • Because your ex earns 75% of the total combined income, he or she pays 75% of the charted amount: $4,875 per year.

Each case is unique and your circumstances may be different, but Franklin County has a child support calculation worksheet that you can use to estimate your child support amount.

How Can I Change a Child Support Order?

Circumstances may change as your child gets older, so child support orders can be reviewed upon request or every three years following the order. You can file a Request for an Administrative Review of the Child Support Order along with evidence of your change in circumstances to the Franklin County CSEA. Once the CSEA issues a child support order, only the CSEA can modify the order. Grounds for modification include unemployment or a 30% decrease in income, for example.

What If My Ex Doesn’t Follow a Child Support Order?

If your ex falls behind on child support payments, the CSEA may report it on his or her credit rating or suspend his or her driver’s or professional license. If court enforcement of the order becomes necessary, the court could hold your ex in contempt. Contempt penalties can increase with each offense and include fines or jail time. Most courts treat child support and visitation rights as separate issues. Even if your ex cannot or will not pay child support, you still have a duty to obey a court order for visitation.

Additional Resources

Navigating child support issues can be a complex process, especially with an ex involved. Consulting with an attorney could make the process easier for you. You can schedule a meeting with an experienced child support attorney. You can also access additional information on this topic at FindLaw’s child support law section.

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