How are college expenses dealt with in Ohio child support?

Understanding College Expenses in Ohio Child Support Cases

In the state of Ohio, child support is a legal obligation that does not automatically end when a child turns 18. Particularly when higher education is involved, there are specific considerations that parents must understand regarding the division of college expenses. This article will explore how college expenses are dealt with in Ohio child support, providing a roadmap for parents navigating this complex issue.

Ohio Child Support Guidelines & Post-Secondary Education

The Ohio Revised Code does not mandate parents to contribute to their child's college expenses as part of the basic child support order. However, the courts have some discretion to order support for post-secondary education based on factors such as the parent's resources, the child's interests and academic aspirations, and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage remained intact.

A Case-by-Case Approach

When determining whether to include college expenses in child support, Ohio courts typically employ a case-by-case approach. In the landmark case of Booth v. Booth, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that post-secondary educational expenses may be considered a part of child support if it is appropriate and reasonable under the circumstances.

Shared Parenting Plans

Many divorce decrees or shared parenting plans include provisions for sharing the cost of college education. These agreements, reached during divorce negotiations, often outline specific terms regarding how much each parent will pay and may include stipulations such as maintaining a certain GPA or attending a state-funded college.

Modification of Child Support Orders

Parents who do not have an existing agreement regarding college expenses can seek a modification of the child support order. A motion can be filed with the court requesting additional support for educational costs. The court will consider several factors to determine if modifying the support order is in the best interest of the child.

College Saving Accounts

Another common method for addressing college costs in Ohio is through college savings accounts, like 529 plans. Contributions to such accounts are often outlined in parenting plans or separation agreements, ensuring that funds are available for higher education when the time comes.


In conclusion, while Ohio law does not automatically require parents to cover post-secondary educational expenses, courts have latitude in determining whether or not these should be included in child support arrangements. It is crucial for parents to either negotiate these terms during divorce proceedings or seek legal remedies through court petitions if circumstances change. Understanding your rights and responsibilities regarding your child’s education funding is essential for protecting both your interests and those of your child.