Job & Family Services Office of Child Support
Office of Child Support - Services

OVERVIEW OF SERVICES

Location 

Below you will find overview information only. For specific information or details on services, please contact your county's Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA).  

Your county child support enforcement agency (CSEA) can help find the physical whereabouts of the non-residential parent, the employer, or other sources of income and assets so that the CSEA may take the next step to secure or enforce a child support order.

Please visit our Location home page for additional information

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Paternity Establishment

Paternity establishment refers to the legal determination of being named as a child's father. The paternity establishment process is available at any time before the child attains 23 years of age. Paternity can be determined even if the other parent lives in another state or even in a foreign country.  It can be established in the following ways:

The voluntary acknowledgment process refers to completion of a form known as an "Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit." You can complete this at the hospital when your child is born, before both parents leave the hospital. It can also be completed at your county's CSEA or your local Vital Statistics Registrar.

If a case is contested or if there is some doubt as to the parentage of the child, either parent may request that the CSEA conduct genetic testing to determine the father of the child. The CSEA will then order all parties to submit to genetic testing and will issue an administrative paternity order based on the outcome of the genetic test. For a paternity order to be established, the test must show at least a 99% probability of fatherhood.

If paternity is established through genetic testing the CSEA will schedule a support hearing to establish a support order for the child(ren).

If either party fails to submit to the test or fails to submit the child for genetic testing, the CSEA may request the court to find the party in contempt and determine the issue of paternity.

As a result of federal welfare reform legislation and state law, in January 1998, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Child Support, created the Central Paternity Registry (CPR). The purpose of the registry is to collect and process all paternity documents initiated by the CSEA's, hospitals, vital statistics registrars and courts. The registry extracts specific data elements from each document. Within a few days, the information is made available to the CSEA's to allow them to move quickly to establish support. Once the registry edits the paternity documents, the originals are forwarded to the Ohio Department of Health for permanent storage.

Please visit our Paternity Establishment home page for additional information.

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Establishment of a Support Order

If a person does not already receive support, the child's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or the person with whom the child lives (considered the residential parent) can contact the CSEA for assistance in obtaining an order for the payment of child support and health care for the child(ren).

Support orders can sometimes be established by the CSEA without going to court. If it is necessary to go through the court, the CSEA will assist you in obtaining a child support order.

To determine the amount of support a parent is required to pay, the CSEA or the court will use the "Ohio Child Support Guidelines" as a guide. Both parents must provide verification of their incomes for the past six months or provide their most recent income tax returns.

Please visit our Support Establishment home page for additional information. 

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Interstate/Intergovernmental

Your county Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) can provide services to you if you have an intergovernmental case.  A case is intergovernmental when one party lives in a state or country different from the other, when a court order is in a state or country other than the one where both parties live, or when there is more than one support order covering the same parties. Each state and territory of the USA uses the same law to process intergovernmental cases. It is called the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) and you can see more information about this law by clicking on the link below. Your CSEA can also assist you if a party to the case lives in another country or on a tribal reservation. 

Please visit our Interstate/Intergovernmental home page for additional information.

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Medical Support

The CSEA is responsible for establishing and enforcing health insurance orders for child support cases when coverage is available and reasonable or expected to become available. Health insurance coverage is considered available and reasonable if it can be obtained by a parent through the parent's employer or other group health insurance plan. Health insurance includes fee for service, health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations (PPO), and other types of coverage that could provide medical services to the child. Other group coverage may include, but is not limited to, retirement, disability, or union plans.

The CSEA is required to send a National Medical Support Notice to the employer of the medical insurance obligor (MI Obligor) when new or changed employment occurs. This federally required notice is designed to help obtain health insurance for children for whom there are medical support orders. The employer must send the NMSN to the health plan administrator in 20 business days, unless the employer doesn't provide insurance. The health plan administrator will enroll the children 20 business days after receiving the NMSN, unless there is a waiting period or there is more than one health insurance plan option. In those cases, enrollment takes place when the waiting period ends or the plan option is selected.

Please visit our Medical Support home page for additional information.

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Change to a Child Support Order (Review and Adjustment of an Order)

Either parent or guardian can ask for a change in the order. Child support orders can be reviewed every 36 months from the date the order was established or the date of the last review. Some orders can be reviewed sooner than the required time frame if certain circumstances are met.

"Review" means that a caseworker looks at both parties' income information to see if child support should be changed or if health insurance should be added or changed.

"Adjustment" means an upward or downward change in the amount of child support based on the application of the Ohio guidelines. It also means adding or changing provisions for the child(ren)'s health care needs through health insurance.

Please visit our Review and Adjustment home page for more information.

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Enforcement of an Order

Whenever a support order is initiated or modified, a general provision requires any payor of a non-residential parent to withhold a specified amount to be applied to the child support order. Income withholding is part of a support order and established at the time the order was issued. This can change over the lifetime of the order depending on the types of income available for withholding, the work status of the parent paying support, and the availability of assets to pay the child support obligation.

Income Withholding is the best enforcement method for the collection of ordered child support. This method is mandatory and applies to almost all types of income--not just wages. The word "income" includes, but is not limited to:

  • personal earnings
  • workers' compensation payments
  • unemployment compensation benefits
  • pensions
  • annuities
  • allowances
  • private or governmental retirement benefits
  • disability or sick pay
  • insurance proceeds
  • lottery prize awards
  • any form of trust fund or endowment
  • lump-sum payments
  • assets in a financial institution
  • any other payment in money

Please visit our Income Withholding home page our Direct Interstate Income Withholding home page and our Federal Institution Data Match (FIDM) home page for additional information.

Tax Offset is an enforcement method for the collection of federal and/or state tax refunds of the non-residential parent to satisfy past-due child support (arrears).  The state tax offset program can also be used to collect overpaid child support in specific situations.

Please visit our Tax Offset - Injured Spouse Claims frequently asked questions document for additional information regarding tax offset.

Other Enforcement Methods - It is the responsibility of the CSEA administering the order to monitor payment of the obligation. If payment of the current obligation falls behind, there are a variety of measures to collect past-due support.
Examples of other measures that do not require court action include:

  • Credit reporting
  • Professional license suspension
  • Increase in the amount of income withholding to pay arrears
  • If the non-residential parent has no income or assets, the CSEA can get an order requiring the parent to seek work. 

If an individual fails to comply with a required action and enforcement by a court becomes necessary, the court can hold the person in contempt. Contempt penalties can increase with each offense and include fines and/or jail time or other remedies that the court finds appropriate. Some of the reasons a person can be cited for contempt are:

  • Disobeying a judgment or order of the court
  • Failure to obey a subpoena or refusal to answer as a witness
  • Failure to appear in court as required
  • Failure to submit to genetic testing
  • Failure to comply with the provisions of a child support order

Child support can also be enforced by the use of criminal statutes. The state statute in Ohio provides for criminal penalties, including fines and/or a jail or prison sentence, depending on the length of time of the non-payment.

Federal law also provides for criminal non-support to be prosecuted, if certain criteria are present. For a misdemeanor federal offense, the non-payment must be willful, the obligation must be unpaid for at least one year or be greater than $5,000, and the offender and the child must reside in different states. Possible penalties for this offense include imprisonment for up to six months and/or a fine, and mandatory restitution of the total unpaid support obligation.

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Collections and Disbursement

Child Support Payment Central (CSPC) was developed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Office of Child Support (OCS), in response to Federal legislation mandating the implementation and operation of a state disbursement unit (SDU) for collecting and disbursing child support payments. All child support payments must be processed by CSPC.

Please visit our Child Support Payment Central (CSPC) home page for additional information.

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Termination of Support

When there is an order for child support the residential parent is required to notify the CSEA when there is any reason that the support for that child should terminate.  The CSEA will initiate a termination investigation to determine if in fact the child support order should terminate.

Please visit our Termination of Support home page for additional information.

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Termination of Services

A CSEA can terminate IV-D services or support enforcement program services (SEPS).  When only IV-D services are terminated the CSEA will continue to provide SEPS and the case is considered a non-IV-D case.  The CSEA must continue providing SEPS as long as there is a duty of support for the child. 

A CSEA can terminate IV-D services or support enforcement program services (SEPS).  When only IV-D services are terminated the CSEA will continue to provide SEPS and the case is considered a non-IV-D case.  The CSEA must continue providing SEPS as long as there is a duty of support for the child.

Please visit our Termination of Services home page for additional information.

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Related Services a CSEA Does Not Provide 

Visitation/Custody issues - This is an area that is determined by the court.

Divorce - Any divorce actions, including property settlements, must be filed in court.

Alimony (spousal support) Establishment - The CSEA is not authorized to establish a spousal support order.

Pregnant Women - Services cannot be provided for an unborn child. 

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Last Updated 02/19/2013