Child support is money that you or the other parent pay to meet your child’s financial needs (like buying food and clothing). The court or Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) decides the child support amount based on your income, expenses for the child (like child care and health insurance) and how much time you spend with the child.
The amount of child support is determined by a standard set of rules from Ohio law. You can use the Ohio Child Support Calculator to see if your support amount could go up or down based on the law.
If you believe that the amount of child support you pay or receive needs to be changed, there are 2 ways to request a change:
- Request a CSEA review
- File a motion in court
There are pros and cons to both options. Here are some things to consider when deciding which option to choose:
- You will not have to pay court costs.
- You can complete the initial review without attending a hearing in person; they can be done by mail or over the phone.
- You don’t have to “serve” the other parent.
- There is a faster appeal process if you don’t agree with the CSEA recommendations.
- In some cases, the county CSEA may not be able to conduct a review of your order. Contact the county CSEA that has your child support order to see if you are eligible for an administrative review and adjustment.
- You can request a modification at any time; you don’t have to consider the 36-month requirements for a CSEA review.
- You get to appear in person to explain your story to the judge or magistrate.
- The court has more flexibility to consider personal circumstances when deciding if the parent is voluntarily unemployed, or when deciding if the order should be modified.
- If your support order has multiple deviations from Ohio’s standard child support guidelines, the court may need to review the deviations to see if they are still possible.
- You may need to pay court costs.
- You will need to properly “serve” the other parent.
- The court process can be more complicated. You may want to speak with a lawyer before going to court.
Requesting a CSEA review
One way to request a child-support change is having the county CSEA review your order. A review means that a caseworker looks at both parents’ information to see if child support or health insurance should be added or changed. The parents do not have to attend the administrative review.
You are eligible for a CSEA review if:
- It has been 36 months or more since your last child support order or review.
- It has been less than 36 months since your last child support order or review and your circumstances are different. Qualifying changes include being unemployed or laid off through no fault of your own for more than 30 days, or experiencing an income change of at least 30% through no fault of your own for at least 6 months.
To request a CSEA review, you should:
When you submit a review request, the CSEA determines within 15 days if you are eligible for a review. If you are a military member called to active duty, the CSEA determines within 3 business days if you qualify for a review.
To complete the review, the CSEA needs evidence of income, health insurance and other information for both parents. The CSEA will send you information about what documents and information you will need to provide for the review. Review this information thoroughly and send them all the documents they request.
The CSEA has 180 days from the date it has a valid mailing address for both parents to complete the review and mail the results. Once the review has been completed, the parent who requested the review cannot withdraw the review request.
After the review, the amount you pay or receive could go up, go down or stay the same.
The CSEA will issue its recommendations to both parents. The recommendations will become the modified child support order if there are no objections from either parent. The modified order will begin on the first day of the month following the review.
Both parents have the right to object to the modified order. If you object to the CSEA review results, you should submit a written request for “an administrative review and adjustment hearing” within 14 days from the issuance of the recommendations from the review.
A hearing will be held with a CSEA administrative hearing officer, and this hearing officer will issue a decision following the administrative hearing. If you wish to object to the review and adjustment hearing decision, you can submit your written objection to the court that issued the original order within 14 days from the issuance of the CSEA decision.
While your case is pending before the court or the CSEA, the law requires you to keep paying support at the old amount. Otherwise, you will have to pay any back payments due.
Going to court
Another way to request a child support modification is to file a motion in court. The motion should be filed with:
- The court that issued the original child support order. This could be a juvenile or domestic relations court.
- If the original order was from a CSEA and not a court, the motion should be filed with the juvenile court in the same county as the CSEA that issued the order.
Going to court is more complicated that having a CSEA review. You may want to consult with a lawyer before going to court. You can find organizations that can connect you with a lawyer or other legal help on this page under "Legal Help and Lawyers."
If you want to go to court, you should:
- Complete the paperwork. Use the statewide forms to modify a child support order. Check with your local court to see if they require additional forms.
- Explain your change of circumstances. On the paperwork, explain how your circumstances are different (like if your income is different, or if your custody changes). The change must result in at least a 10% change to the total child support amount. Proving that your child’s needs are different is not required.
- File the paperwork. File the paperwork at the domestic relations or juvenile court.
- Serve the other party. Serve papers to the other parent. Follow the court’s service rules.
- Attend the hearing. Learn about how to get ready for a hearing.
While your case is pending before the court, the law requires you to keep paying support at the old amount. Otherwise, you will have to pay any back payments due.
If the court decides there is a change of circumstances, the court will require a new child support amount.
When does my duty to pay child support end?
Your child support order may be eligible for termination when:
- Your child turns 18 years of age. If your child is still attending high school when they turn 18, you are obligated to pay child support until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever happens first.
- Your minor child lives on their own (and has been legally emancipated by the court), joins the military or gets married.
- There has been a legal change of custody and the child no longer lives with the other parent or has moved in with you.
- You have married and moved in with the custodial parent.
If your situation qualifies under one of these reasons, call the CSEA and request termination. If the CSEA is not able to terminate the order, you can also file a Motion to Terminate Child Support with the court.