Child Support: Commonly Asked Questions

What is Child Support?

Child support is the financial contribution one parent makes to another parent to support their shared child/children. The Ohio State Bar Association publishes a helpful pamphlet that explains the basics of child support in Ohio. Child support is generally ordered by a court or state agency, but can also be arranged by private agreement and approved by the court. Child support is often ordered in cases of:

  • Divorce

  • Dissolution of marriage

  • Annulment

  • Paternity establishment

  • Legal separation

In most cases, child support is paid by the parent who is not living with the child (the “non-residential” parent). However, every situation is different, and as discussed below, the court considers many factors in determining child support.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay in Child Support?

It depends. A court child support order will take in a number of factors: who is working, how much each parent makes, how many children there are, what type of health insurance the children have. While it may be difficult to calculate, you can use the Child Support Calculator provided by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to get an estimate of potential child support payments.

How Long Do I Pay Child Support?

In Ohio, a parent must pay child support for the duration of the court order. Generally, a parent pays child support until the child reaches the age of 18 or until they graduate from high school (whichever is later). However, each case is different and the parent may pay child support for a longer period or a shorter period of time. For example, in Ohio if a child is disabled, the court may order child support payments beyond the child’s 18th birthday, but this must be requested before he or she becomes an adult. The Ohio State Bar Association pamphlet mentioned above can help you learn more about this.

Here are the situations in which a court order for child support should be terminated:

  • The child gets married, is emancipated, enlists full-time in the military, dies, or is adopted.

  • There is a change in the child's legal custody.

  • The child is 18 and no longer attends an accredited high school full-time.

  • The child is 19 and the court support order does not require the support order to continue beyond the child's 19th birthday, or the obligor (person required to pay child support) or obligee (person who receives child support) is a grandparent and there is a change in the status of the child or the child's parent.

Can the Amount I Pay in Child Support Change?

Yes. Child Support payments are subject to modification by the court or by the state agency. Either parent may request a modification of the child support amount if there is a change in circumstances. Such changes may include loss of employment, the birth of a new child, changes to either parent’s income, or a disability determination of the child. As always, it is your right to seek an attorney to petition the court or to challenge payments.

Additional Resources

For more information about child support in Ohio check out the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services – Office of Child Support FAQs.


This guide is intended to be an introduction to child support in Ohio. It is not intended to serve as legal advice and is by no means fully exhaustive. You have the right to speak with an attorney if you have legal questions or if you have a case pending in juvenile court.

This guide was developed as part of a project made possible by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

Lead researcher/author: Ricardo Vidal, J.D. Candidate, 2019, Legal Intern

Helpful GuidesNathan Enzerra