Ohio parents who separate or divorce may find themselves suddenly involved in the child support system. However, despite the prevalence of child support, many people know little about how it works. Each year, August marks Child Support Awareness Month, which is meant to spread information about the financial responsibilities of noncustodial parents to their children.
Sometimes child support orders are established during a divorce, but they can also be created in a separate action. In any case, the parent-child relationship must be established before a child support order is put in place. Maternity is determined by records of the mother giving birth to the child while paternity can be established in several different ways. The husband of a married woman at the time of childbirth is presumptively the father, and an unmarried father can voluntarily sign an acknowledgment of paternity affidavit. If paternity is in doubt, however, the parents may seek out DNA testing to determine whether a certain person is the father.
Paternity does not need to be established at the time of birth. It can be legally declared at any time before the child turns 23 and also be established if the parents live across the country or even the world from one another. Once the identity of the child's parents is clear, a child support order will be put in place. Support is paid to the child's custodial parent or his or her legal guardian or custodian.
The amount of support a noncustodial parent must pay is determined by state guidelines and is based on income. Whether people are obligated to pay support or have the right to receive it for their children, a family law attorney can work with them to come up with fair child support determinations in each particular case that reflect the needs of the children and the finances of the parents.