CSEA Helps Ensure Children Get the Support They Need
Once a child support order is issued, the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) employs a variety of methods to make certain the obligor (the person ordered to pay support) meets his or her obligation.
An obligor is considered in default of an order when he or she falls one month behind in payments. The amount unpaid is called an arrearage. Sometimes this occurs due to a delay in payments coming from an employer.
When a case goes into default, the CSEA sends the obligor a notice. The obligor may pay the arrearage to stop the default process or, if he or she disagrees with the past due amount, may request a hearing within a stated time frame.
Once a case is determined to be in default, the obligor is reported to the credit bureau. An automatic arrears payment—20% of the current support order—is set up if an arrears payment has not already been made.
Also at this time, the CSEA may start other enforcement actions.
FIDM (Financial Institution Data Match)
This is a federal program that identifies financial accounts that belong to individuals who owe child support arrears. Monies can be taken from these accounts.
The easiest way to ensure compliance is income or wage withholding. The employer withholds support payments from an employee’s pay and sends them directly to Child Support Payment Central (CSPC), which forwards the payments to the obligee (the person receiving child support).
Income withholdings also can be sent to the Bureau of Workers Compensation, the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services, retirement accounts, disability, and bank accounts.
Lump sum payments from an employer that are not part of regularly scheduled wages can be intercepted for child support. These include employee buyout packages, profit sharing payments, incentives, and unpaid vacation benefits.
The Ohio Lottery notifies the CSEA of any winnings that are eligible for interception.
If an obligor consistently fails to meet the child support obligation, the case can be taken to court for contempt. A hearing is held before a judge or magistrate. Both the obligor and obligee are notified of the hearing. If the obligor is found guilty of contempt, a sentence will be issued.
In some cases, the sentence may be delayed to give the obligor a chance to comply with the court order. If the obligor does not comply, a hearing is held to impose the sentence, typically jail time.
If other enforcement strategies have been unsuccessful, certain cases may be referred for felony non-support. A prosecuting attorney takes these cases before the grand jury for indictment. If indicted, the obligor is arrested and a trial date set. If found guilty, the obligor may be sentenced to probation or prison.
Drivers, professional, hunting and fishing licenses may be suspended. Reinstatement will occur once the obligor complies with the order.
The CSEA may file liens on property owned by individuals who owe arrears.
Information about obligors who owe more than $2,500 in child support arrears is sent to the U.S. State Department. Passports will be denied until the CSEA notifies the State Department that the obligor has paid the arrears.
The CSEA may intercept Racino / Casino winnings from an individual that owes arrears.
Cases with arrears of $150 or more are automatically submitted to the Internal Revenue Service and the Ohio Department of Taxation, which will send the obligors’ tax refunds to the CSEA.