Divorce, or Dissolution, decisions are difficult enough on their own. When there are children involved, it becomes more complicated. A few items that must be considered are Child Custody, Visitation plans, Child Support calculations, and possibly Grandparent Custody or Visitation. Our experienced lawyers can assist you through this difficult process.
Child Custody, and visitation, are common phrases used to describe the legal assignment of responsibility and rights related to the care of a child.
In Ohio, the terms Child Custody and Visitation are often combined into a single concept known as Parenting Time, as they apply to the rights of a parent. When talking about non-parent rights to custody or visitation, the terminology most often used would be Companionship or Visitation Rights. Parenting time is generally awarded to the non-residential parent, with orders from the court typically focusing on frequent and continuing contact for both parents. It is possible that the court could find ongoing contact with one, or both, parents is not in the best interest of the child.
Factors that are considered by the court, when determining and granting Parenting Time, include:
- Location of each parent’s home, and the distance between them
- Willingness of the parents to work together to reschedule missed Parenting Time
- Plans for either parent to live out of state
- Physical and mental health of all parties, including the children
- Availability of the parents based on work schedule, child’s school schedule, vacation, and holiday plans
- Time available to spend with siblings
- Age of the children involved
- Health and safety of the children
- The Child’s ability to adjust to new homes, schools, and communities
This is a basic list which may be considered when granting custody or determining Parenting Time, but our lawyers will ensure that a comprehensive look at all factors is conducted if you select our dedicated lawyers to represent your interests.
Visitation rights for non-parents, which includes Grandparent Visitation, can be granted if the following conditions are met:
- A motion is filed with the court, identifying the individual seeking visitation
- It can be determined that the individual has an interest in the child’s welfare
- Granting visitation is in the best interests of the child.
Dagger Law, and Ohio courts, recommend that all parties work together to create a companionship and visitation plan that can be agreed upon and adhered to. Not only is this less stressful for the children, but a willingness to cooperate can ensure a limited amount of time and money is spent getting to the end goal of a new, stable, life for the child after parents are separated. If cooperation is not forthcoming, you can be assured that the Family Law attorneys at Dagger Law will fight for your rights, in the courtroom.
Child support in the state of Ohio has changed (28 March, 2019).
On 28 March, 2019, Ohio updated its Child Support Guidelines for the first time in 25 years. If you are currently making Child Support Payments as the result of a court order, Dagger Law recommends that you seek legal advice in order to educate yourself on the changes in the law and to see if a modification to your Child Support order would be beneficial. The Child Support Lawyers at Dagger Law are a trusted and experienced resource for all of your legal questions. If this change impacts your child support payments, we can provide assistance in getting a modification for your child support matter.
A few important changes to the Child Support guidelines in Ohio are:
- Updated economic tables which changed the formula for support based upon parent incomes
- Increased the economic table cap from $150,000 combined income to $300,000 combined income
- Reductions in child support possible if a standard (90 nights or more) or equal (147 nights or more) are reached during Parenting Time, and the individual is exercising their Parenting Time
- Standard income deductions for each child of the payor, treating each child equally even if there are different child support orders
- Established a “self sufficiency reserve” which can assist lower income payors in keeping some cash to support themselves after Child Support obligations have been met
Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support, and Grandparent Custody FAQ:
Q: How many years of child support can I expect to pay:
A: In the state of Ohio, Child support payments must be made until the child is 18, and has graduated high school, in most cases. This may be modified if the child has a mental or physical disability, or if the parents agree to extend the support period for the child.
Q: How is child support determined?
A: Truthfully, this is a fairly complex equation once you witness all of the individual factors that play into this, but the basic idea is that Child support payments are based on each individual parent’s income by percentage of the combined household income overall, and the number of children. This is then referenced against a pay schedule chart, as a function of the combined parental income, to determine how much is owed based on the current Ohio child support statute. Finally, the percentage of the individual parent is applied to the payment chart amount to determine what part of the payment each parent is responsible for. That is the simple explanation, but there are many factors that may further modify the payment amount. This is why it is important to consult a lawyer to evaluate the fair and equitable distribution of child support payments.
Q: Can I go to jail, or prison, for missing child support payments?
A: In some circumstances, yes! Ohio law does allow for criminal penalties if a parent fails to pay more than 26 out of 104 weeks’ worth of payments, or who owe more than $5000 in child support payments which are past due (known as arrearages). That means more than 25% of child support payments were missed in a two year time period. It should be further noted that extensive failure to make payments can be elevated to a felony offense.
Q: My former spouse recently re-married. Will this impact the amount of child support?
A: It can, yes! Ohio Law does provide for a modification of child support if a non-residential parent (not the primary residence for the child) remarries. While not specifically stated, Ohio has also allowed for cases where a modification of child support is also possible when the residential parent gets married as well. Some factors which can be considered in a modification to child support payments after marriage include:
- A reduction in expenses when a new spouse’s income is factored in. That said, this may only serve as a factor for consideration and won’t be included in income calculations. The thought is that a remarriage doesn’t add to income, but it does likely alter the amount of expenses that the parent pays for their share of the newly formed household.
- Additional children from remarriage can also modify child support orders. While common law held that a parent’s responsibility was to the children of the prior relationship, more modern views on child support orders hold that any obligation to support other people can be considered for modification of a child support order.
Please note that while this allows for the court, and parents of a child, to engage in a new discussion about the matter, it is ultimately up to the courts to place the child’s best interests first. That can sometimes feel like neither parent gets what they want, so we caution that any request to modify child support payments be approached with reasonable expectations based on guidance from your attorney.
Q: How is custody commonly determined in Ohio?
A: In most circumstances, custody rights depend on the marital status of the mother at time of birth. If the mother is unmarried, she will have full custody. If the mother is married, then she will have the same custodial rights as her husband. Many other circumstances get weighed into determining custody beyond this basic understanding of custody. Certainly there are circumstances where one, or both, of the child’s parents may be evaluated as unfit, and thus lose custody until this determination can be reevaluated for a change in circumstances.
Q: What makes a parent unfit? How does a court make the determination on an unfit parent?
A: The legal definition is that a parent’s conduct fails to provide proper guidance, care, or support. Other acts by the parent, such as abuse, neglect, or creating an unsafe environment for children through substance abuse may also cause a parent to be ruled as unfit. It is important to remember that most courts advocate for the children first and foremost. While a parent, as an adult, can make choices about the environment they want to live in, and how they want to be treated, a child cannot. This is the most fundamental basis by which a court approaches issues of custody. If a parent can demonstrate the ability to properly guide, care for, and support their children, then the court will allow for custody in most cases. That said, the court may also allow for custody while imposing some guidelines which are aimed to provide additional training and resources for the parent if they are close to the edge. These might include counseling or treatment programs, or periods of supervision while interacting with the children.
Q: Will an attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester?
While some meetings will need to be held in our offices, we do try to minimize your travel time by offering two convenient locations in both Lancaster and Canal Winchester, Ohio. It is our goal to minimize the disruption to your life caused by child support and visitation issues, and many communications or meetings can be conducted through emails or phone calls. In certain circumstances we realize that it isn’t possible for clients to reach us, and visits to your location may be required. If a Dagger Law attorney is retained to represent you, they will travel to the necessary court hearings and legal procedures in order to represent you, anywhere in Ohio! Please note that in some instances, outside of Fairfield County and the surrounding area, the cost to represent your case may require an unusual amount of money due to travel expenses. In such cases, we may recommend using legal representation closer to the location of your case. We are happy to provide referrals in these instances, if we are able.
If you are looking for child custody and child support lawyers near you, then we have you covered. With two locations we can easily serve residents in Columbus, Canal Winchester, Lancaster and most of Central and Southeast Ohio. Check out the nearest location to you by opening our Office Locations Page.
Q: How can I check the status of my Family Law and Domestic Relations matters?
First, and foremost, we encourage you to communicate with your attorney, and their support staff, for updates regarding your particular matter. This will provide you with the most recent and up to date information. Communicating frequently with your attorney will allow you to ask questions so that you understand the progress of your case, as well as provide opportunities to give them any new information that your attorney might need to know. If your question is about status of filing, or other basic public information, in Fairfield County, Hocking County, or Perry County, you can follow our step-by-step guide located here: Check the Status of Your Domestic Relations Case Guide