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For many people, their first experience with a government agency can be confusing. The Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) recognizes the need to help customers understand the services offered and terminology used.
f you are a customer or are simply interested in learning more about OCSS, view the links below for helpful information and answers to your questions.
- Enforcement of Your Support Order
The easiest way to enforce your order for child support is by attaching the wages of the party responsible to pay the child support. However, if they are not employed, self-employed or if their employment cannot be located we can take a variety of actions to get them to pay.
Your Support Officer can assist you with a variety of enforcement techniques ranging from locating the non-custodial parent, reviewing your case for a possible modification of your current child support order, referring your case to the Prosecutor’s Office for filing a motion, to terminating your support order.
- Motion to Show Cause
If you are not receiving your court ordered support and if you have an order in Juvenile or Domestic court*, we can prepare a Motion to Show Cause for the Prosecutor’s office to file with the court. The court will “serve” all parties with notice that a legal action has been filed and a hearing will be held to resolve the issue. Since the court cannot go forward without “serving” both parties, maintaining a current address is extremely important. Please keep us notified of your address, as well as the other party's address whenever possible.
*Complaint If our Administrative Hearing Unit issued your support order we can still file an action with the court, however, the name of the action is called a “Complaint”. The process is the same as that of a Motion to Show Cause, except the name is different. Once this process is fully completed your administrative order will turn into a court order, should additional court activity be necessary in the future.
- Driver's License Suspension
Child support enforcement agencies in Ohio have the authority to suspend a person’s driver’s license for failure to pay support. Prior to the suspension of a license, the party has to have been sent an “Advanced Notice of Default”. That party can “object” to the amount of unpaid child support owed by requesting a mistake of fact hearing with our Administrative Hearing Unit. Once the hearing is held and arrears found, or if no hearing is requested, the license suspension can go forward. Once the driver’s license is suspended, the Agency will seek a lump sum payment on the arrears, plus the name of an employer or bank account to attach future support payments. Once both of these things have occurred, the Agency will issue a notice to be taken to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) so the person can have their license reinstated. There will be a $25.00 BMV reinstatement fee as well.
- Emancipation of Your Child and/or Termination of Your Support Order
This Agency can assist you with the emancipation of your child as it relates to your child support order or with the termination of your spousal support. It is best if you contact your Support Officer three months before your child is about to graduate from high school. Or you may pursue this process on your own through the courts with the assistance of a private attorney. When a child becomes emancipated either by age or other circumstances, the court requires that the support order be officially terminated. Both parents are required to notify the agency of any reason for which the support order should terminate. The custodial parent is required to notify the agency IN WRITING when a child becomes emancipated and provide the documents noted below.
Some common reasons for emancipating a child are:
- Has reached the age of 18 AND has graduated or “officially” withdrawn from high school
- Has reached the age of 19 and there is no special provision within your order for the support to continue past this age, one example would be a disabled child
- The child has married
- The child has joined the armed services
We must have the following information to complete the emancipation process:
- Copy of child’s birth certificate
- Copy of child’s diploma from high school
- Letter of official withdrawal from the high school child attended
- Copy of child’s marriage certificate
- Copy of child’s enlistment in the military papers
The emancipation/termination process could take up to six months to complete.
Termination of a spousal support or alimony order is a simpler process, PROVIDED the court order is very clear as to the date the support payments are to start, the amount of support and the date they are to end. If this is not the case, you may have to have your attorney file a motion to terminate.
Some of the common reasons for terminating a spousal or alimony order are:
Once the information is received the Support Officer will:
- The party receiving the spousal support has married. We must be provided with a copy of the Certificate of Marriage.
- The Court Order spousal support time period has expired.
- The party receiving support has died. We must be provided with a copy of the death certificate.
- Have the order audited.
- Issue a new income withholding order reducing or terminating the wage withholding, provided all monies have been paid.
- If the case is not paid in full, the income withholding order will remain in place until the balance is paid in full.
- Adjustment and Review or Modifying Your Support Order
Either party can request the Agency to review their current CHILD support order once every three years. (Spousal support cannot be modified). In certain situations a review can be conducted prior to three years if one of the following situations occurs:
Once the request for review is received, both parties will be sent questionnaires to complete regarding their income and specific expenses, and given a date the Support Officer will conduct a desk review. The information questionnaire must be returned to the Child Support Agency within the designated time period. Failure to do so will result in termination of the review. Once the desk review has been completed, each party will receive a report to review called Findings and Recommendations. If either party disagrees with the findings in the report, each party has seven days to request an Administrative Hearing with our Agency.
- The income of one of the parties has changed by at least 30% up or down for at least six months.
- The party required to pay support is permanently disabled. This requires medical verification.
- Either party is now unemployed for a period of at least six months.
- The person required to pay support cannot pay due to being imprisoned or institutionalized, without the possibility of being released during the minority of the child(ren), and has no assets available to pay the support.
If either party requests a hearing, it will be scheduled and both parties will be given notice of the hearing and should attend. If neither party requests a hearing, or does not return their request within the seven day time period, our Findings and Recommendations are sent to the Court for a Journal Entry to be filed. Once the new Order has been received by our Agency the new Order will be put into our computer system and a new wage withholding order issued to the income source of the person responsible to pay the support, as well as a medical support order to the employer of the person responsible to provide medical insurance coverage. This entire process could take up to six months to complete, but the effective date of the new order will be the first day of the month following the scheduled desk review.
- Tax Refund Offset Information
The Statewide Enforcement Tracking System (SETS), is Ohio’s child support computer system. Within SETS, the tax intercept program for IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and ODT (Ohio Department of Taxation) is primarily automated. The computer system, SETS, will automatically submit the name of the person responsible to pay support to the IRS or ODT. An IRS submission will be made when there are arrears of $500.00 or more that is due a custodial parent, and $150.00 or more that is due the state. For ODT submissions, the arrears must meet or exceed $150.00. Other criteria includes:
For monies to be intercepted from the IRS:
- CJFS, Office of Child Support Services must have an application for services signed by the custodial parent on file.
- The person paying support has not filed for bankruptcy.
For monies to be intercepted from the ODT:
- According to federal regulations, any amounts collected through the IRS tax refund offset program must first be used to pay back the State (through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services) for any public assistance payments. If public assistance is not involved, all monies will be forwarded to the Payee directly.
- The arrears due the custodial parent must be $500.00 or more.
- If the custodial parent received public assistance and there were arrears due to the Department of Job & Family Services, the arrears must be $150.00 or greater.
- Spousal support only cases are not submitted to IRS for tax refund interception.
- Any case with an arrearage of $150.00 or more will be submitted to ODT for tax refund intercept. Contrary to how IRS dollars are allocated, ODT monies are initially sent to the custodial parent and then to the Department of Job and Family Services, if applicable.
- Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)
(Out of State Cases)
UIFSA is a special unit within the Agency. UIFSA handles cases in which one of the parties resides outside of the State of Ohio. There are two different types of UIFSA cases depending on the location of the parties:
Initiating Cases: This is when the custodial parent and child or children reside in Cuyahoga County and the alleged or absent parent lives outside of the State of Ohio.In this situation the Agency conducts an interview and prepares a packet to be mailed to the state where the non-custodial parent lives. It will be the court in that state that establishes and/or enforces the support order.
To begin this process we must have a verified home address for the alleged or absent parent. In almost all instances we cannot use a Post Office box as an address. We must also have a CERTIFIED copy of any and all support orders for the children outside of Cuyahoga County.
Responding Cases: In these cases the alleged or absent parent resides in Cuyahoga County and the custodial parent and child or children reside outside the State of Ohio.In this situation our agency receives a request for assistance from the court in the other state. We review and send it to our County Prosecutor's office for filing with the court. Our court is then responsible for establishing and enforcing the support order.
To enable us to proceed with any action the location (address) of the alleged or absent parent must be known.
Because the both of these cases require us to work with another state the time frames for the completion of the activities is significantly longer. On an average the process can easily take nine to twelve months.
Motion to Register: This process is used to register another state's order in our court IF BOTH the parties are now residing in the State of Ohio. In order for us to begin the process, CERTIFIED COPIES of the order from the other state and their payment record is REQUIRED, along with a month-by-month arrears statement. Once this information is obtained paperwork will be prepared for the County Prosecutor's office to file the Motion to Register a Foreign Decree with the court. Upon completion of this process we will then be able to begin to enforce the existing support order here in Cuyahoga County.
- Financial Institution Data Match or FIDM
This action is used when we can verify that the party responsible for paying support has monies in a financial institution that can be impounded to pay off an outstanding arrears balance. We must know the name of the financial institution and the account number.
- Administrative Lien
This action is used to place a lien on the real estate property owned by the party responsible to pay support. We must have the address of the property and be able to verify that the party responsible to pay support is the owner.
- Professional License Revocation
This action is used to revoke the professional license of the party responsible to pay support. We utilize this technique as a last resort because once their license if revoked, they are unable to work until their license is reinstated.
- Criminal Non-Support
This technique can only be used after the person responsible has not paid support for 26 out of the last 104 weeks. Additionally, the obligor must have been found in contempt by either the domestic or juvenile courts and has had the ability to pay support. The Criminal Non-Support enforcement tool brings the person required to pay support into the criminal justice system. If found guilty by the criminal courts, sentences typically entail probation but may include incarceration.