Families across the country are struggling with stressful challenges, including layoffs, uncertainty around the school year, upended travel plans and figuring out how to adjust to so many unknowns.

Divorced parents face additional problems along with these issues. In addition to the normal life stressors, many divorced parents are trying to figure out whether their established child custody and child support orders still work in this strange environment. While almost every aspect of our normal day-to-day lives have changed in 2020, does that also mean that your Ohio divorce orders need to change?

Below, we breakdown this question in more detail, explaining how this unpredictable year may or may not impact your family’s parenting schedule or child support obligations. To learn more, check out the video on our home page that explores this same topic.

Are parenting time orders being enforced? What about child support?

Yes, Ohio family law courts are enforcing parenting time and child support orders. However, many families have seen significant changes in employment schedules and income. As always, it is possible to adjust parenting time and child support orders if necessary. However, the parent requesting a change must still file a motion and prove a change in circumstance for it to be approved.

It is never acceptable for either party to not fulfill their child support obligation without an official approved motion. If you stop paying support without going through this formal process, you will continue to accumulate payment obligations. Soon, you could amass substantial arrear payments that may be difficult or impossible for you to pay.

What if one or both parents don’t believe that existing parenting time orders make sense right now?

Unique work or school schedules may make it difficult for parents to follow the established parenting plan. If one parent does not believe that the existing parenting time orders work in the current unique environment, they are encouraged to collaborate with the other parent to change them. You can change the parenting time schedule if both parties agree to the change. This is a preferable resolution strategy to having the court decide for you.

What happens if parents cannot agree on a revised parenting plan?

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree to an adjusted parenting plan, next try to resolve your differences through mediation. Your divorce attorney can help you reach an agreement that works for the entire family.

If you cannot come to an agreement through mediation, file a motion to modify the existing order with the Ohio family law courts. However, you must prove a significant change in circumstances for the order modification to be approved. A major life change such as a schedule shift at work, virtual schooling or loss of a job could qualify. You must also prove that the proposed changes are in the child’s best interests.

What should I do if my child’s other parent does not uphold their child support obligations?

If the other parent fails to uphold their child support obligations, you can hold them in contempt of court. The court still expects all parties to adhere to their divorce orders. You can file a motion before the Ohio family law court explaining how the other parent failed to follow the established court order. The other parent will have a chance to defend their actions.

How can I best work with my child’s other parent to get through this difficult time?

It is never easy to work through parenting issues with an ex-spouse. With all the additional stresses right now, it is more difficult than ever. However, it is in your child’s best interests for you to work together as a team to meet the child’s needs.

If you need to collaborate on some difficult parenting time or child support issues, try the following to avoid confrontation:

  1. Take a deep breath and keep emotions in check.
  2. Have a goal in mind, and thoughtful reasoning behind your goal.
  3. Fully listen to everything the child’s other parent says.
  4. Be willing to hear the situation from the other parent’s perspective.
  5. Keep your child’s best interests in mind.

If you feel like you and your child’s other parent are getting off-track, ask “Is this solution in the child’s best interests? Is this plan going to effectively meet their needs? What does our child need right now?” This can help keep both parties focused on the ultimate goal: Helping your child thrive during this difficult time.

Remember that you are not alone, and treat yourself with kindness. You are wading through an emotionally charged subject during an already difficult time. Try your best, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your family law attorney for help. It may greatly benefit your family to have an experienced voice help you uncover a solution.