Ohio Laws About Children in Divorce Cases

by Wayne Thomas
Ohio determines custody based on the best interests of the child.

Ohio determines custody based on the best interests of the child.

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Settling matters related to children is an important part of the divorce process. In Ohio, a specific body of law applies to custody and child support matters. Ohio also recognizes that parents and children relocate, and has passed laws addressing when jurisdiction starts and ends. Understanding what factors a judge looks at when making custody arrangements, as well as the guidelines used for calculating support, will help minimize some of the confusion surrounding matters related to your children in Ohio.

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Judges in Ohio make custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. The court will look at certain factors when determining what is in the child's best interest, including the relationship of the child to each parent, mental and physical health of the parents and child, and child's adjustment to school, home and community. Custody can be either shared or awarded to one parent. By law, if one parent has been convicted of a criminal offense involving neglect or abuse of the child, this is one factor against shared custody.

Parenting Plan

Parents are instructed to include a parenting plan with the divorce paperwork in Ohio. A parenting plan gives each parent an opportunity to propose a custody arrangement and schedule that each believes is best for the child. If the parties agree on the arrangement, they may submit a shared parenting plan. However, a judge is still required by law to review it to make sure it is not contrary to the child's needs. If provisions of the plan are found to be harmful, the judge may ask that the parties make revisions to the plan based on the court's objections.


In determining child support amounts, Ohio uses a formula written into law. First, the gross income of both parents is determined and adjusted based on certain deductions, such as income taxes actually paid. Both incomes are added together and the guidelines will indicate a total support amount for the child. The individual ordered to pay support will then be required to pay the percentage of the support amount based on his percentage of the total income between parents. For example, if a father is ordered to pay support and contributes $50,000 to a combined income of $75,000, he would be responsible for 66% percent of the support amount.


Like most other states, Ohio has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This act seeks to prevent multiple and conflicting custody orders across state lines and ensure that court orders are enforced. Typically, an Ohio court has jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination if Ohio was the home state of the child at the time of the action. For modification of a custody order, Ohio retains jurisdiction until it or another state determines that neither parent nor child continues to reside in Ohio. In addition, Ohio has adopted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. This act gives Ohio courts continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over support orders as long as one parent or the child continues to live in the state. The law also provides Ohio with the duty to enforce orders from other states.