Support Order Establishment and Modification
Why should I get an order for child support and health insurance? Often parties will ask why a support order is needed if the payer is unemployed, the payee has sufficient resources to care for the child or the payer is in school. First, circumstances change and the sooner an order is established, the better. Second, if a party receives state or county benefits, they may be required to cooperate in establishing support and health insurance as a condition of receiving benefits. The child's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or the person with whom the child lives can contact the child support enforcement agency for assistance in having a child support order established.
What needs to be done first?
The first thing to do is to determine if paternity is an issue. If it has been resolved, the party requesting CSEA services or receiving benefits will meet with a CSEA Establishment Specialist. This person will collect information to aid in locating the person ordered to pay, such as: their employer, address, benefits, and assets. In most cases, a referral will be made to the Administrative Hearings Unit. They will set up a date for an administrative support hearing 30 to 60 days after the referral from the investigator. The parties will receive a "Notice of Administrative Hearing and Subpoena" ordering them to attend this hearing.
What happens at an administrative support hearing?
If both parties are present, the administrative hearing officer will usually make inquiries about the parties' income, certain expenses, and other children which live with them or for which they have a child support order. The parties are usually asked to bring in certain information such as income tax returns, proof of earnings, and health insurance information. Assuming sufficient information can be obtained at the hearing, the hearing officer will calculate support using the formula mandated by the State of Ohio. The hearing officer will also prepare an Administrative Order which may deal with the items of current support, birthing expenses due and owed to the State of Ohio, health insurance, and the Seek Work Program.
How will the amount of support be determined?
The Administrative Hearing Officer will use the Ohio Support Guidelines and Worksheet found in the Ohio Revised Code. These guidelines were created by the Ohio Supreme Court and were later adopted by the Ohio legislature. They form the basis for support calculations that every person or entity calculating support (private attorney, public attorney, Court, etc.) must at least start with in determining what a party should pay in child support.
What if one of the parties objects to the order?
The parties have 30 days to object unless they waive this objection period. As long as neither party has waived the objection period, they will normally receive, either at the time of the hearing or in the mail soon after, three items: the calculation worksheet used to determine child support in this case, the Administrative Order of Support and Related Matters and an Objection Form.
Will the administrative hearing establish retroactive child support?
No. The administrative hearing will establish current support only. If a party is interested in retroactive support, they would inform the hearing officer of this. They are free to obtain private legal counsel regarding this issue. The parties should be aware that if they have received benefits from the state or county, they may have assigned their right to receive support to the state or county.
Are the parties ongoing bills (e.g. rent, car payments, school loans, credit card debt, etc) considered by the Hearing Officer?
Generally speaking, no. The hearing officer can only consider those expenses according to the state mandated formula. Those expenses might be considered if it could be definitively shown that said items were ordinary and necessary business expenses for a self-employed parent. The courts do have greater discretion in deviating from the formula than the CSEA, but usually requires evidence that the expense is in someway out of the ordinary. If, however, the parties disagree with the administrative hearing officer, they can object via the previously mentioned Objection Form.
Is the income of my current spouse of the other parent's current spouse considered in calculating support?
No. Only the income of the parents is considered in calculating support (unless both parents are minors, in which case the income of the grandparents may be considered).
What if a parent is unemployed at the time the support order is established?
A hearing officer has some discretion regarding such cases. For example, the hearing officer could use income to either or both parents based on minimum wage and calculate support on that basis, or may use recent employment history if it is reflective of future earnings potential.
I am married to the father, but currently separated and no action for divorce or dissolution has been filed, can I still get child support?
Yes. You should bring in the marriage certificate if you have it. The CSEA cannot address custody, visitation or tax exemption status through the administrative support establishment process. Those issues can only be addressed through a court order.
Modification or Review of a Child Support Order
What is a modification or review of a child support order ?
A Modification is a change of prior support orders based upon a substantial change in circumstances. If, for example, one party's income increases substantially. The process is very similar to the Support Order Establishment process. Once documentation is received, the agency will re-calculate the amount of child support to be paid. If either party disagrees with the amount of support which the agency determines by using the Ohio Child Support Guidelines they may request an administrative hearing/court hearing and have their case heard by a hearing officer or through the court system.
How do I request a review of my child support order?
A review request form may be obtained by either parent at the CSEA office or through the mail. Tthe Child Support Enforcement Agency has 15 days after receiving the completed request form and supporting documentation, to determine whether a review will be conducted.
If my request for a modification is approved, what will happen ?
Both parties will be sent financial information packets,and have 45 days to complete and mail their packets back to the agency. If the parent requesting the review fails to respond within the 45-day limit, the review shall be terminated for non-cooperation. However, once the completed packet is received, the requesting party may not dismiss the request for an administrative review on or after the scheduled review date. The agency must have both parties' income verification for the past six months or provide their most recent income tax returns. The Modification Investigator will use the income information obtained to determine what the child support amount should be. The support amount shall not be changed unless it varies more than 10% from the current order.
How will I be notified that my child support order will be adjusted ?
Both parties will receive an Administrative Adjustment Recommendation. If they do not agree with the adjustment after the administrative hearing, they have the right to request a court hearing. If a hearing is not requested, the revised amount of support will be submitted to the court. If the support order was established through the CSEA’s administrative process, the time frame to file an objection is 30 days from the date the Administrative Adjustment Recommendation was issued. The time frame to file an objection if the court order was issued in Domestic Relations or Juvenile Court is 14 days. The CSEA does allow 3 mailing days added to each time frame.
What if I object to the amount of child support determined by the modification process ?
The Administrative Adjustment Recommendation paperwork will have a form attached that can be completed by either party who objects to the child support adjustment recommendation. Either party may request an administrative hearing within the time frames mentioned in the previous question. If an administrative hearing is to be set, the hearing shall be scheduled within 15 days after receiving the request. The parties shall be mailed a notice of the hearing at least 10 days prior to the hearing. One good cause continuance may be granted to each party, provided the request is received prior to the hearing. The new hearing must be set within 15 days of the initially scheduled hearing. The Administrative Hearing Decision shall be issued within 10 days of the hearing.
What if I object to the Administrative Hearing decision?
Either party may request a court hearing by submitting an objection to the Huron County CSEA who will notify the appropriate court of the objection. If the support order was established through the CSEA’s administrative process, the time frame to file an objection is 30 day, from the date the Hearing Officer’s Decision was issued. The time frame to file an objection if the court order was issued in Domestic Relations or Juvenile Court is 14 days. The CSEA does allow 3 mailing days added to each time frame.