Frequently Asked Questions

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Self Service Quick Tips

I understand my case is now in your Litigation Department being prepared for court. When will I get a court date?
Court dates are determined by a variety of factors. In certain types of cases, we can't get a court date until we get "service of process" on the other party. In other types of cases, we get a court date when the case is filed. Then, if we are unable to get service of process on the other party, the case can be continued a few times to allow us to obtain service. Bottom line--the CSEA does not decide what your court date will be. All court dates are set as time is available on the court calendar.

So, you're taking my case into court. Why do I have to put in an appearance at this hearing?
You are the best source of information concerning your case. Your testimony may be critical to the material issues at hand.

But, the obligor is not paying the ordered child support. Doesn't that prove that this person is in contempt?
The nonpayment of support will certainly be evidence supporting that contention. However, the obligor is not in contempt until such time as the court rules on the contempt motion which will be put forward by the CSEA attorney. The obligor may present defenses of which only you may have knowledge enough to prove or disprove.

The other party has already been found to be in contempt of court in this matter and he (or she) still is not paying. Why can't he (or she) just be arrested and put in jail?
Our judicial system affords the other party the right to present evidence in their own behalf. The contempt hearing is held for just this purpose. At this hearing, the court will decide whether or not to impose the jail sentence.

Since the other party is not paying child support, can I curtail their visitation privileges?
If visitation has been ordered, you do not have the legal right to withhold that visitation. Issues on visitation, custody, and shared parenting are separate from support.

Making and Receiving Child Support Payments

I'm paying my child support, but the other party is not letting me have visitation. Can I stop paying my child support?
No! If visitation was ordered, you will need to engage a private attorney to file a motion against the other party who would be in contempt of the visitation order. The CSEA cannot do this for you, or on your behalf, since the agency has no authority under Ohio statutes to address visitation issues. Aless costly way to resolve parenting issues has recently been adopted in Franklin County. Visitation mediation is available for parents who already have court-ordered visitation, but who are experiencing difficulties in this area. Visitation mediation is available for both divorced parents and parents who were never married to each other. This type of mediation is a process that gives parents an opportunity to resolve visitation issues before getting a magistrate or a judge involved. Either parent may request visitation mediation without filing for legal proceedings. Additionally, a magistrate or judge may refer pending contempt cases for this mediation process. Contempt motions are costly, time consuming, and often increase problems between parents. This service provides parents with an opportunity to address visitation issues in a timely manner. At present, there is no charge for visitation mediation. If you would like more information about visitation mediation (called parenting time mediation by the Court), please call (614) 525-5872.

How do I request a copy of my payment history?
Payment history requests can be made in person at the agency at either the cashier's booth or the reception counter located on the first floor of our 80 East Fulton Street offices. You may also request a payment history by telephone or by fax. Payment history requests received by phone or fax will be forwarded via First Class Mail. There is no charge for this service.

How can I find out if a payment has been received/posted to my case?
You can call the agency at 525-3275 (Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.) and ask one of our client information specialists when your most recent payment was posted. Additionally, at any time of the day or night (both during the week and on weekends) you can call the state's automated payment line at 1-800-860-2555 to acquire this information.

How do I make payments?
As of October 1, 2000, all support payments must be made through Ohio's Child Support Payment Central (OCSPC). As in the past, your support payments must continue to include the two percent processing charge required by state law.
Obligors now have the following payment options:
  1. cash only payments at the agency
  2. mail payments to OCSPC
  3. on-line payments
  4. credit card payments

Cash payments at the agency: The Franklin County CSEA operates a cashier's window at 80 East Fulton Street. Only cash payments can be accepted (no cashier's checks, certified checks, money orders, etc). The cashier's window is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

Mail payments to OCSPC: Obligors may also mail payments to the Ohio Child Support Payment Central at the following address:

OCSPC P.O. Box 182372 Columbus, OH 43218

Only checks and money orders can be accepted, made payable to: CSPC.

Please print your SETS case number, and your court case number or your SSN, on your payment so that your account can be properly credited and payment processing can be expedited.

Online Payments: Obligors now have the option of making payments online using ExpertPay.com. Obligors who wish to use this payment method should access the ExpertPay website at www.ExpertPay.com and register as a user. To remit a payment, the obligor will enter a payment amount and effective date for the withdrawal. On the effective date, the payment will be debited from the obligor's bank account, and then five (5) business days later the payment is sent to Ohio CSPC. A nominal fee is charged for payments remitted to other states. The ExpertPay website has additional details about fees.

Online Credit Card Payments: Obligors now have the option of making payments by credit card at www.e-ChildsPay.com . This option is currently available only for MasterCard cardholders. Obligors using this payment method are subject to a fee of $11.75 per each transaction, in addition to the 2% processing charge. Additional information regarding this program can be found at www.e-ChildsPay.com.

How do employers submit payments?
If you are an employer remitting wage withheld payments for your employees, you should send these payments to this address:

Ohio Child Support Payment Central P.O. Box 182394 Columbus, OH 43218

Employers must also provide the following information on the check or the check stub in order that the payment can be properly posted to the right account: the obligor's name, obligor's social security number, SETS case number (a ten-digit number beginning with a "7"), obligor's court or administrative order number, and the amount of the payment.

Why can't I pay my child support directly to the other party? We are on good terms. Why do I have to pay my child support through Ohio's Child Support Payment Central (CSPC)?
Ohio law requires that all child support must be paid through either Ohio's CSPC or through the CSEA administering the order. The Ohio statute which mandates this is Ohio Revised Code Section 3121.45. In this section it is further stated that any payment of money made by the obligor directly to the obligee "shall not be considered a payment of support under the support order" and "shall be deemed a gift."

My child support payment is late. What can you do?
The agency will not investigate a late payment until it is 10 calendar days overdue. The only exception to this would be in a case where something irregular may have happened, i.e., you have knowledge that the obligor has quit a job or has moved from the area. The reason for this 10-day period is as follows: According to the Ohio Revised Code which drives the language on the wage withholding order (view this in the Forms Section of this web site), the employer has seven business days from the employee's payday (that's nine calendar days...10 if there is a holiday involved) to actually remit payment to Ohio's Child Support Payment Central (CSPC). So, if the employee is paid on a Friday and the employer mails the check on Friday, CSPC will get it and it will post by Monday or Tuesday. But, under this same scenario of a Friday payday, the employer actually has until a week from the following Monday to remit that payment.

Is there a faster way to receive my child support payments than receiving them through the mail?
Yes. You can have your child support payments sent directly to your bank account through direct deposit (also known as EFT or electronic funds transfer). The Ohio CSPC Direct Deposit Program is a safe, confidential and convenient way to receive your child support payments. Most importantly, you'll receive your payments faster. For enrollment information call us at 614-525-3275 and ask us to send you an enrollment form.

Paternity Establishment

How do I go about initiating an adjustment review?
In most situations, administrative adjustment reviews are initiated upon the request of either party to the case.

How do I request a "Housing Verification?"
Housing verification requests can either be mailed or faxed to the agency. The completed request will be sent out to you via First Class Mail.

When is paternity establishment necessary?
Paternity should be established for all children whose parents were not married to each other when the child was born.

What are the benefits of establishing paternity?
Establishing paternity carries numerous advantages for both parents and the child:
  • financial assistance from child support collections.
  • access to medical insurance benefits and other legal entitlements such as Social Security benefits, disability benefits, inheritance and pension and veterans'' benefits.
  • providing the child with a sense of identity and family heritage.
  • strengthens the social and psychological bonds between a father and his child.
  • completes the child''s biological/medical history.

What is the easiest way to have paternity established on my child?
If you are currently pregnant and facing an out-of-wedlock birth, you can contact the social worker at your prospective hospital for more information concerning in-hospital, paternity establishment (post delivery) through completion of the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. This is the quickest method available for paternity establishment. However, in order to go this route, the baby's father must be willing to cooperate and must sign the affidavit.

How do I request paternity establishment through the CSEA?
If you are receiving Ohio Works First (OWF) benefits, the Franklin County Department of Human Services will automatically refer your case to the CSEA for paternity establishment. If you are not receiving OWF benefits and are interested in pursuing paternity establishment and receiving follow-up child support services, you can request that an enrollment packet be mailed to you by calling the agency at 525-3275.

How will I be notified when the agency is ready to proceed with paternity establishment on my case?
After you have completed your intake interview and been enrolled for Title IV-D services, you will receive a letter from the agency stating the time and place of your administrative paternity conference. An order for genetic testing will also be included with this letter. Plan to be on time for your scheduled conference and to bring your child with you.

What happens when I arrive at the CSEA on the day of my paternity conference?
The conference participants (that's you, your child and the alleged father) will be seated in a reception area until called upon by one of the agency's hearing officers. While you are waiting, you and the alleged father will be given some forms to complete.

Can paternity be established at the administrative paternity conference?
Yes. At this conference, you and the alleged father may both agree to sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. Once this happens, each party has 60 days to reconsider and file a notice to rescind their acknowledgment. If no written objections are received during this 60 day period, the paternity action becomes final. If the parties elect to establish paternity through acknowledgement and the birth certificate on the child has already been filed, there is a section on the paternity affidavit that may be completed to effect a name change for the child.

What happens when either party declines to to sign the paternity acknowledgement affidavit?
When one of the parties declines to sign the paternity acknowledgment affidavit, genetic testing will be ordered. Genetic testing is a procedure in which tissue samples are taken from the mother, the alleged father and the child. If the genetic tests show a 99% or greater probability that the male is the biological father of the child, then our hearing officer will issue an order establishing paternity. The CSEA will send the genetic test results to you by mail. Genetic test results will not be released to anyone over the telephone.

Who can request an administrative adjustment review of a child support order?
Any CSEA client may request that their case be reviewed for adjustment in the amount of the child support obligation. However, in order to be eligible for this review, you must be enrolled for Title IV-D services and your support order must be at least three years old. If your last support order is less than three years old, we can only perform a review of your case if one of the following criteria has been met (appropriate documentation will be required):
  • If the existing order established a minimum or reduced amount of support due to the unemployment or underemployment of one of the parties, and that party is no longer unemployed or underemployed.
  • If either party to the order has become unemployed or been laid off, the unemployment or lay off is beyond the party's control, and the unemployment or lay off has continued uninterrupted for 30 consecutive days.
  • If either party has become unemployed due to a plant closing or mass lay off as defined in the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).
  • If either party has become permanently disabled, reducing his or her earning ability. The CSEA will require medical documentation of the disabling condition.
  • If either party has been institutionalized or incarcerated and cannot pay support for the duration of the child's minority and no income or assets are available to the party which could be attached for support.
  • If either party has experienced a 30% decrease beyond the party's control, or a 30% increase in income or assets for a period of at least six months and which can reasonably be expected to continue.
  • If the order is not in compliance with the Ohio guidelines due to the termination of the support obligation for a child of the existing order.
  • If there is an administrative order over which the court has not taken jurisdiction, to consolidate children of the same parents for whom a duty of support has been established into a single administrative order in compliance with the guidelines.
  • If either party requests access to available or improved health insurance coverage for the child.
  • If either party has experienced an increase or decrease in the cost of child care or ordered health insurance coverage, if the resulting calculation changed the existing support obligation by more than 10%.
  • If private health insurance being provided is no longer available at a reasonable cost and/or accessible.
  • The obligor's annual gross income is now below 150% of the federal poverty level and should therefore no longer be ordered to pay cash medical support.
  • If the obligor is a member of the uniformed services and is called to active military service for a period of more than 30 days.
  • If an obligor who received a temporary support order adjustment has notified the CSEA that the obligor's term of active military service has ended, and the obligor has provided written documentation sufficient to establish that the obligor's employer has violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

What specific situations would make my case ineligible for a review?
Any of the following circumstances would make a case ineligible for review:

  • We will not proceed with an administrative review of a case if the issue of modifying the support amount is currently pending before the court.
  • In non IV-D cases when the requestor refuses to sign the required IV-D application.
  • When the location of the obligor is unknown.
  • In cases where the underlying order is not a Franklin County order. In these cases, however, we will assist you by forwarding your request to the appropriate agency.

Requesting an administrative adjustment review

Which party does the agency represent during the administrative adjustment review process?
The support officer conducting the review neither represents nor advocates on behalf of either party. The support officer's job during this review is simply to recalculate the support amount in accordance with the State's current child support guidelines. It is also important to note here that the support officer conducting the review does not have the authority to deviate from Ohio's child support guidelines. If you are requesting a deviation from the guidelines, such a matter would have to be handled in court with representation through private counsel.

What are the possible outcomes of the adjustment review process?
There are three possible outcomes to the adjustment review process. Your child support order may either increase, decrease or remain the same. Your CSEA support officer will not be able to determine what the outcome of this process will be without first having in hand the required financial information from both parties. Results of the adjustment review process will not be given out over the telephone to anyone. Both parties to the case will receive written notification of the outcome of this process by mail.

Can I stop the process once I've requested an adjustment review?
Any requested review can be stopped prior to its scheduled review date by submitting a written request. Once the case is reviewed, however, the CSEA has no choice but to issue its recommendation.

Do I need to be present at the review?
No. The review is not conducted in the presence of either party. This is actually an independent desk review performed by your CSEA support officer in the most objective manner possible.

What happens once an adjustment review is initiated?
Judicial Orders:

  • Once the review has been completed, the CSEA's recommendation is filed with the court and sent out to each party. If you disagree with our findings, you will have 14 days to object to our recommendation. If we receive no objections from either party, an entry will be filed with the court and your support order will be adjusted.
  • Along with the new entry, the CSEA will prepare a notice to the income provider to have the adjusted amount withheld from the obligor's pay, if appropriate. The obligee can expect to see the adjusted amount reflected in his/her child support check approximately four weeks from the filing date on the entry.
  • If we do, however, receive an objection to our recommendation within the 14-day period, we will schedule an administrative hearing on your case. Both parties will be notified by mail of this hearing date.
  • Following this administrative hearing, the parties will have 15 days (from the date of the written hearing decision) to request a court hearing should either party decide to appeal our hearing decision.
  • If either party requests a court hearing, the agency file will be forwarded to the court so that a trial date can be set. At this point, the CSEA is out of the picture. Settlement will be obtained in court.

The following chain of events is set in motion upon initiation of an adjustment review:

  • Both parties to the case will receive a packet in the mail informing them of the review date. They will be given 45 days to return their completed packets to the CSEA.
  • If either of the parties fail to provide the requested information, the CSEA can subpoena an employer for wage verification or exercise its option to make a reasonable assumption as to that party's income. The agency can deny the administrative adjustment review request if the requesting party does not provide all required documentation.

Administrative Orders:

  • Once the administrative adjustment review has been completed, the agency will forward a copy of its recommendation to both parties via first class mail. If you disagree with our findings, you will have 30 days to object to our recommendation and request an administrative hearing. If we receive no objection from either party, then an administrative order adopting the recommendation will be completed and mailed to both parties, and your support order will be adjusted.
  • If an administrative hearing is conducted, the parties will have 15 days (from the date of the written hearing decision) to request a court hearing.
  • If either party requests a court hearing, the agency file will be forwarded to the court so that a trial date can be set. At this point, the CSEA is out of the picture. Settlement will be obtained in court and the Administrative Order will be adopted into a Judicial order.

If I agree to carry the private health insurance even though the other party is ordered to do so, can we change this in our child support order?
Not without modifying the order through the Administrative Adjustment Review process. Parties cannot simply switch who is ordered to carry the private health insurance without a complete review of the entire child support order.

Why am I being charged cash medical support on my newly modified support order?
Effective July 21, 2008 federal and state legislation was passed requiring all new or modified child support orders to contain a cash medical support order. This is an additional support amount to assist in covering medical expenses when the child or children subject to the order are not actively enrolled in private health insurance coverage. Cash medical support will only be charged when private health insurance is not being provided by the party responsible for the coverage. Once the child is covered under private insurance as ordered and the CSEA is made aware of the coverage information, the cash medical support will stop charging. It is important that the CSEA is aware of all changes in insurance coverage for the child subject to the order to ensure the correct support amount is being charged. In addition to cash medical support, all modified or new support orders will also reflect two different current child support amounts, one to be charged when private health insurance is not in effect.

How is genetic testing done?
The genetic testing process is simple and painless. Sponge-like swabs are rolled across the cheek area on the inside of the mouth to collect buccal cell samples. These samples are then sent out to a lab where the DNA material is analyzed. This test will show whether the man who is alleged to be the father is really the biological father of the child.

If I am ordered to undergo genetic testing, who pays for this test?
Genetic testing is paid for by the State of Ohio.

How long must I wait before finding out the results of the genetic tests?
Genetic test results are usually available within three weeks.

What if one of the parties fails to appear for the paternity conference?
When one of the parties fails to appear, the administrative paternity conference will be closed. Once this happens, the only way for paternity to be established is through court action.

Will it be necessary to attend any hearing or appear in court after the administrative paternity order becomes final?
When the order becomes final, the issue of paternity is resolved. A hearing or court appearance on this issue is no longer necessary. However, if the mother and father are not living together with the child as a family, it will be necessary to schedule a hearing so that a child support order can be issued.