Establishing a Child Support Order

Anyone with legal custody of a child can ask the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) to establish a support order. Unmarried mothers have sole legal custody unless a court awards it to someone else.

The CSEA can help you establish a child support order, even if the other parent (does not live in Ohio). In all cases, the support amount is determined by the "Ohio Child Support Guidelines."There are two ways to establish child support:

  • Administratively: A hearing officer conducts a hearing at the CSEA. This process is generally faster and more informal than going through court. A court hearing is not needed unless someone objects to the hearing officer's decision. Hearing officers cannot address custody or who claims the child for tax purposes. If parties qualify and can reach an agreement, they may seek visitation through our Parenting Time Opportunities for Children (PTOC) program.
  • Judicially: Parents are scheduled for a court hearing where a magistrate or judge determines the amount of support. It may not be scheduled for six months or more after an application is submitted. The court can address other issues such as visitation and can also consider support amounts higher or lower than the Ohio Child Support Guidelines.

Every support order must address the child's (medical insurance needs). If either parent has health insurance available through an employer, they may be ordered to provide insurance for the child.
Both parents should bring the following to their hearing:

  • Pay stubs, tax returns or other evidence of income
  • Health insurance information (total cost for family or other plan which includes the child, whether you carry the coverage or not), if available through employer
  • Other material specified on Hearing Checklist (PDF)

If you are interested in establishing child support, you must complete an Initial Application (PDF). Customers who receive cash assistance do not need to apply, as they will be automatically referred for support services. The initial application takes about 15 minutes to complete and up to an hour to process. It can be completed by phone or at the CSEA, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm

The following are required to process your application:

  • Birth certificates for all children
  • Valid driver's license or passport
  • Custody orders
  • Marriage Certificate(s), Divorce Decree(s) or any relevant court order

View more information on establishing a support order.