best interest of the childIn 2001, the Ohio Legislature revamped the statutes that govern child support payments upon the termination of a marriage. Under current Ohio family law, child support is calculated according to a rigid statutory schedule set out in the Ohio Revised Code and the applicable child support worksheet. There are different child support worksheets depending on the type of custody arrangement the Court orders (sole residential parent, shared parenting, or split parental rights and responsibilities, etc).  The Court can also issue a temporary order of child support which is to be paid during the pendency of the divorce litigation, if necessary.   

The statutory formula is presumed to be the correct level of child support for all families - a sort of one size fits all approach to child support - based upon the objective criteria established by the legislature. However, the Court may deviate from the rigid statutory formula if it finds that the amount resulting from the schedule and applicable worksheet if it finds both of the following:

  1. Would be “unjust or inappropriate” and,

  2. Would not be in the best interest of the child, after it considers several factors specifically listed in the statute. 

The rather lengthy list of factors the Court must consider when deviating is as follows:

(1) Any special and unusual needs of the children;
(2) Any obligations for minor or handicapped children which either party may have by another parent;
(3) Any other payments that the Court mandates (like spousal support);
(4) Extended parenting time ordered or unusual costs incurred by a party exercising their parenting time (e.g. if the party or child must travel great distances);
(5) Whether the party ordered to pay child support will have to get a second job, as a consequence of the support order, due to any obligations that party may have to a second family;
(6)  The financial resources and the earning ability of the child himself;
(7) Any inequity in the income of the parties;
(8) Any benefits that the parties will obtain as a result of living with another person, like a second husband or wife;
(9)  The amount of taxes to be paid by the parties;
(10) Whether there were any significant in-kind contributions from a parent;
(11)  The relative financial resources, other assets and resources, and needs of each parent;
(12)  The standard of living and circumstances of each parent and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage continued or had the parents been married;
(13) The physical and emotional condition and needs of the child;
(14) The need and capacity of the child for an education and the educational opportunities that would have been available to the child had the circumstances requiring a court order for support not come about;
(15) The responsibility of each parent for the support of others; and
(16) "Any other relevant factor."

The statute provides that the court may accept an agreement of the parents that assigns a monetary value to any of the factors listed above. The statute also states that if the court grants a deviation on the basis of “any other relevant factor,” the Court is then required to specifically state in the child support order the facts that are the basis for the deviation from the formulaic amount.

The statute also sets forth other factors the Court is to consider when deviating specifically within the shared parenting context. These factors include:

(1) the amount of time the children spend with each parent;
(2) the ability of each parent to maintain adequate housing for the children;
(3) each parent's expenses, including child care expenses, school tuition, medical expenses, dental expenses; and
(4) any other expenses the court considers relevant.
Because of the rigid formula promulgated by the legislature, the issue of child support is often out of the control of the parties. However, if there are compelling reasons or specific circumstances that would make that determination untenable, then a party should fight for a deviation and be prepared to put on evidence to substantiate their need for the deviation.


Modification of Child Support

Like most issues subject to a divorce decree, child support can be modified upon the request of either party.  But, unlike most issues covered by the decree, child support can be modified without having to go to Court again by making an application for modification with the local county child support enforcement agency (CSEA).  If the agency decides to modify the support award, a party can appeal that the domestic relations Court, however.  Therefore, the parties may wind up in Court again anyway.


Spousal Support is what most people commonly refer to as “alimony.”  The basic idea behind spousal support is to alleviate, to the extent possible, an inequitable division of property following a breakdown of the marriage.  For this reason, the issue of spousal support is not even to be considered by the Court until it has already dealt with the issue of dividing the marital property.
In stark contrast to the calculation of child support, spousal support is not determined by a rigid statutory formula.  The spousal support statute enumerates several factors that the court must take into consideration when deciding whether to award any spousal support.  

  1. These particular factors include (1) each party's income from all sources;
  2. The parties relative earning abilities;
  3. The parties ages, physical, mental and emotional conditions;
  4. The parties retirement benefits, if any;
  5.  And how long the parties were married
  6. Whether or not one party is unable to work due to parenting responsibilities;
  7. The parties standard of living while they were  married;
  8. The parties individual level of education;
  9. The parties liabilities and individual assets;
  10. Whether either party made a contribution to the other party’s education or training or earning capacity;
  11.  Whether one party will need time and money to acquire their own education or training to obtain employment of their own;
  12. The extent to which an award of child support has or will produce certain tax consequences to one of the parties; and  
  13.   Whether marital responsibilities impacted one of the party’s capacity to earn income on their own   

In theory anyway, spousal support is supposed to enable the Court to equalize what would otherwise be an inequitable distribution of property.  Spousal support is never mandated and is within the discretion of the Court.  The Court will determine an amount and duration of the spousal support, after considering the above listed factors. Spousal support is a mechanism by which the spouse with less income is able to live at a reasonable standard for a reasonable amount of time.

Spousal support can be paid either in real property (like a house or condo or summer home) or it can be paid personal property (like cash) or it can be paid in both real and personal property. Furthermore, spousal support can be paid in one lump sum or in installments, with the latter being the more common form

Under statute, Spousal support terminates upon the death of either party, but if the parties agree to a support amount in a separation agreement, there can be other events that cause its termination, such as

  • When one party remarries;
  • When one party cohabitates with another party, regardless of whether they get married;
  • When one party gets a significant upgrade in income


    Phone: (937) - 432 - 9775 - Morrison & Nicholson, LLC. is located in Dayton, Ohio and serves clients in Montgomery County, Greene County, Warren County, and Butler County, Darke County, Preble County, Miami County, and Hamilton County including Springfield, Xenia, Beavercreek, Oxford, Springboro, Centerville, Lebanon, Middletown, Hamilton, Trotwood, Drexel, Kettering, Centerville, Xenia, Beavercreek, Fairborn, and Cincinnati, OH. We provide legal representation to clients in the Southwestern Ohio and Greater Miami Valley region.