Child Support General Information
Parents owe their biological or adopted children a legal duty of support. This means they must financially support their child. A support order has several components:
- An order to pay a monetary amount of support,
- An order to carry accessible private health insurance if the cost is reasonable,
- An order to pay cash medical support if accessible private health insurance is not available at a reasonable cost,
- An order to pay health care expenses that are not covered or reimbursed by insurance and are not covered by cash medical support, and
- An allocation of the right to claim the federal dependency exemption when filing taxes.
- A support order can be established two ways, administratively or judicially.
The Scioto County Domestic Relations Court has jurisdiction over the support orders of children whose parents’ marriage has terminated or is in the process of being terminated, as well as some cases in which the parents have never been married, but parentage (also known as paternity) is established in this court.
Child support orders are set according to the “Ohio Child Support Guidelines” set forth in Ohio Revised Code §3119.01-3119.27. The Guidelines are legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly in response to federal law. The use of these guidelines is mandatory for the establishment or modification of all Ohio child support orders.
Child support is computed using a Child Support Computation Worksheet and tables that set forth the economic cost of raising children known as the “Basic Child Support Schedule” and the “Cash Medical Support Schedule.” The basic cost of raising children, work-and-education-related childcare costs, and the cost of providing health insurance for the children are factored into the computation. The amount computed according to the Worksheet is presumed to be the correct amount.
Under appropriate circumstances the Court may “deviate” from the “presumed” correct amount. The burden of proving why a deviation is appropriate rests on the parent seeking the deviation. The Court, but not the CSEA (Child Support Enforcement Agency), has the power to deviate from the amount computed on the worksheet. The reasons why the Court may deviate from the statutorily computed amount are stated in Ohio Revised Code §3119.23. The amount of the deviation the Court grants, if there is a valid reason to deviate, depends on the particular facts and circumstances of the case.
All support orders must include medical support. Major changes were made in child support law in July 2008 that require the Court and the CSEA to order a parent to purchase health insurance to cover the children if the insurance is:
- private (not publicly funded)
primary care services provided through the insurance are accessible to the child, and the cost is reasonable to the parent ordered to purchase it.
- “Accessible” means primary care services are available within 30 miles of the residence of the child. Health insurance is also considered accessible if residents in the immediate geographic area customarily travel farther than 30 miles for primary care services or primary care services are only available to the children by public transportation.
The cost is considered reasonable if the contributing cost to the parent who will be ordered to carry coverage does not exceed 5% of the person’s annual gross income. If the cost does exceed 5%, the Court may still order a parent or both parents to buy coverage if one parent asks to carry the higher cost coverage, both parties agree that one or both should carry the higher cost coverage, or if the Court decides it is in the best interest of the children and will not cause undue financial hardship to the person.
If there is no private health insurance the Court will require the parent paying child support to pay an additional amount, called “cash medical support”, in addition to child support.
The parents may agree who should claim the federal tax dependency exemption. If the parents cannot agree, the Court will award the dependency exemption to the parent such that the child’s best interest is furthered.
A child support order can be modified if the parent requesting the modification can demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the order was established or last modified.
Once a support order is made, the case is open for collection. Child support cases remain open until the children are emancipated and arrearages that may have accrued are paid.
responsible for monitoring, collecting and distributing child support payments. Each support case is assigned a number under Ohio’s statewide Support Enforcement Tracking System (SETS). Payments must be made to Ohio Child Support Payment Central (“OCSPC”), a centralized processing center in Columbus, Ohio.
State law requires that the parent ordered to pay support secure the obligation. The most common and preferred method of securing collection is by mandatory income withholding from the parent’s paycheck or other income source. A parent may also be required to fund a bank account from which deductions can be regularly made, to post a cash bond, or to seek work and report employment efforts to the CSEA.
If these methods are ineffective, a variety of enforcement mechanisms are available to the CSEA, without a court order. If the CSEA determines that the person paying support is in default the CSEA can:
- Intercept a federal and state tax refund
• Attach a lump sum payment due to be paid
• Suspend driver’s license (including commercial license), professional license, or recreational license
• Seize a financial account
• Place a lien on real or personal property
• Report delinquency to a credit bureau
• Publish a delinquent parent’s name and picture on a “Wanted” poster
• Notify the United States Department not to issue or renew a passport.
The Domestic Relations Court has the power to fine a parent who does not obey its order to pay support in contempt of court upon motion filed by a party. Under Ohio Revised Code §2705.05 the penalties are:
- A fine of up to $250 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days for a first offense
• A fine of up to $500 and a jail sentence of up to 60 days for a second offense
• A fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to 90 days for a third or subsequent offense.
Severe cases of nonpayment may be referred by the CSEA to the Office of the Scioto County Prosecutor for charges of criminal non-support.
Q: What is a IV-D application?
A: The Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) is required to provide support enforcement program services in cases for which it has administrative responsibility. A signed IV-D application allows the CSEA to provide a broader range of enforcement services in child support cases than the collection and distribution of payments. These services include parent location, establishment of parentage, federal tax refund intercept, withholding of unemployment compensation, establishment and modification of court orders, among others. See Scioto Form 4-IV D Application
Q: What documents can be used to verify income for child support purposes?
A: Usually some evidence in written form is needed for the Court to issue a child support order. This evidence could be a pay stub, tax return, financial statement, or W-2 wage and tax statement.
Q: How can I get my child support amount changed?
A: A parent may request a modification of a child support order by contacting the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) or by filing a motion in the Domestic Relations court case number. There is no cost to request a modification review by the CSEA.
Q: Can I pay child support and spousal support to my former spouse directly?
A: Ohio law requires that child support be paid through the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). Neither the Court nor the parties can waive this requirement. Child support that is not paid through the CSEA is presumed to be a gift.
The Court may allow spousal support to be paid directly if there are no minor children and the parties agree.
Some of the advantages of paying through the CSEA are a permanent record of payments is kept, and non-payment triggers automatic enforcement actions by the Support Enforcement Tracking System (SETS).
Q: What is the difference between the Domestic Relations Court and the Child Support Enforcement Agency?
A: The Court is part of the judiciary. The CSEA is an administrative agency under the executive branch of government established for the purpose of collecting financial support for children. The Court does not keep track of or send support checks.
Q: How do I obtain the CSEA payment records in my case?
A: Certified copies of the payment history in your case are available by contacting the Scioto County Child Support Enforcement Agency:
710 Court Street
P.O. Box 1347
Portsmouth, Ohio 45662-1347
CDJFS Phone: 740-354-6661
CSEA Phone: 740-355-8909, 1-800-354-6377
The following information must be included in the request: SETS number, Domestic Relations Court case number, your name, address and telephone number, and the specific time period for the payment history. CSEA records are confidential and available only to parents or their designated legal representative.
Automated child support payment information is available by calling the SETS toll-free number (800) 860-2555. This information includes the amount of the last payment, the date the last payment was processed, and the total balance due on the case. Payment information is also online at http://jfs.ohio.gov/ocs.
Q: How do I pay child support before the income withholding order on my employer takes effect?
A: You may begin making payments by sending a personal or certified check to:
Ohio Child Support Payment Central
P.O. Box 182372
Columbus, Ohio 43218-2372
Q: What do I do if my former spouse is not paying his/her share of the medical bills?
A: Each parent’s responsibility for uncovered health care expenses should be stated in the decree or other court order. Often, the parents’ responsibility is expressed as a percentage. Failure to obey the order can be considered contempt of court.
You may file a motion asking that your former spouse be found in contempt. The motion must contain a list of all the health care bills you accuse your former spouse of not paying. Before filing such a motion you must present your former spouse copies of the bills. Many people do not keep accurate records of all the bills incurred, for each child, for each year, and how much of the bill was covered by insurance. This information is necessary if you intend to bring the matter to the attention of the Court by filing a motion. If the bills cover several years this may involve pulling together a great deal of paperwork. You must be able to explain how much you are owed and be able to justify that number. The Forms section contains a chart that can be useful in helping parents keep track of the bills.
Q: How do I get child support if I haven't filed for divorce yet?
A: If you and your spouse have separated but have not started a legal action yet, contact the Child Support Enforcement Agency. The CSEA can help you establish a support order.
Q: How do I stop my child support order for my eighteen-year-old?
A: Most court orders require that child support be paid until the child reaches age eighteen and graduates from or no longer attends high school on a full time basis, whichever occurs last.
Contact the Child Support Enforcement Agency. The CSEA will investigate to determine if all obligations have been met and make a recommendation that the order terminate or that support continue if there are arrearages owed.
Alternatively, you may file a Motion to Terminate Support with the Court.
Q: What is a victim advocate?
A: A victim advocate is defined by law as “a person who provides support and assistance” for a person who files a Petition for Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order. A victim advocate is specially trained to assist you through the system.
Scioto County Domestic Relations Court, Scioto County Courthouse,
602 7th Street, Rooms 301 and 303, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662
Judge's Office: (740) 355-8316
Magistrate's Office: (740) 353-1646
Fax: (740) 355-8205