By Anne Shale   |   January 14th, 2012

In Ohio, Do Support Payments Have To Be Made Through The Support Enforcement Agency?

support payments in ohioDo child support/spousal support payments have to be made through the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) or through the Ohio Child Support Payment Central (OCSPC)? This question is generally answered with a resounding “Yes”! There are many reasons for the involvement of the CSEA and the OCSPC.

What do the CSEA and OCSPC stand for? What role do they play in Support Payments?

Each county in the State of Ohio has its own Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) charged with keeping accounts and payment histories for each child support/spousal support order involving children or ex-spouses residing in that particular county. The Ohio Child Support Payment Central is an agency located in Columbus, Ohio. It was created by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in response to Federal legislation mandating the implementation and operation by each state of a disbursement unit for collecting and disbursing child support and spousal support payments.

Why are these two agencies needed to provide oversight and collection of support payments?

Both agencies are vital and necessary as the State of Ohio has a vested interest in collecting maximal child support payments.

Otherwise, the State would be “on the hook” for each indigent child within the State wherein child support was not collected resulting in the indigent child receiving benefits from the State in the form of welfare, Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), food stamps, health insurance (Care Source or Molina), subsidized housing, etc. Likewise, the State of Ohio has a vested interest in collecting maximal spousal support payments because if the recipient (Obligee) isn’t receiving spousal support payments as ordered, he or she may also seek assistance in the form of welfare, food stamps, and health insurance benefits from the County wherein the Obligee resides.

Both the CSEA and OCSPC provide many services for each child support/spousal support account Including:

  • Agents monitor the accounts and keep a running record of support monies due pursuant to a Court’s Order versus support monies actually received. Thus, this record keeping provides the means to generate an audit and payment history for each support account.
  • Agents monitor delinquent accounts and those accounts requiring enforcement for arrearages owed, which can be “flagged” with the goal of intercepting income tax refunds or any lump sum payments to be made to an Obligor (payor of support). And, if the support paid is less than half of what is owed, the CSEA has powers to revoke an Obligor’s driver’s license or professional license.
  • Agents may also assist with the location of Obligors and in determining if an Obligor has found new sources of employment.

Many Obligors question why support payments must be made through the CSEA or OCSPC. The answer is because that is the law! Payment through these agencies is mandatory. Many Obligors complain about the 2% service fee charged by the CSEA. The 2% service fees are used to offset the costs of the agencies. If an Obligor has a support obligation of $3,000 per month, he or she will owe the CSEA the sum of $60 per month (2%) to administer his/her account. But, if an Obligor has a support obligation of just $500 per month, his or her service fee would be the sum of just $10.00 per month.

I have had clients argue that it is discriminatory for them to pay higher service fees than other Obligors based upon the amount of support ordered to be paid. I have been known to tell my clients that if they want to change the method of payment, and/or the amount of the 2% service fee, they will need to become politicians.  They need to run for office, go to Columbus, and convince a majority of legislators that the law should be changed! This would be a difficult task to accomplish!

What are the exceptions to eliminate having to pay support through the Agency?

Ohio Revised Code 3121.441 titled “Direct Payment of Spousal Support” creates the exception. If the Obligor has only a spousal support (alimony) obligation, with the consent of the Court, the Obligor may be able to set up an automatic transfer of support payments from his/her bank account to the Obligee’s bank account. The Obligor may also be able to pay to the Obligee the alimony obligation by check, money order, or in any form that establishes a clear method of payment.
With the foregoing methods of payment, the Obligor can escape the monthly 2% service fee! However, in the event the Obligee does not receive regular and consistent spousal support payments, he or she can request that the Court issue a Withholding Order to the Obligor’s employer so that payments can then be processed by the CSEA or OCSPC.

Summary:

The following options are available for the payment of child support/spousal support in the State of Ohio:

Option 1: An Obligor has a child support obligation only. The child support obligation must be paid through the CSEA or the OCSPC and a 2% service fee shall be paid by the Obligor.

Option 2: An Obligor has a child support obligation and a spousal support obligation. The total support obligation must be paid through the CSEA or OCSPC and a 2% service fee shall be paid by the Obligor.

Option 3: An Obligor has a spousal support obligation only. With the permission of the Court, the spousal support (alimony) obligation may be made by electronic transfer from Obligor’s bank account to Obligee’s bank account or the direct payment may be made by the Obligor to the Obligee by check, money order, or in any form that establishes a clear record of payment, thereby avoiding payment through the agency and the 2% service charge.

If you have questions about support payments, contact an experienced divorce or family law attorney to discuss your situation.  Please click on the link in the above sentence if you would like to contact the writer of this blog, R. Anne Shale.

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Anne ShaleAbout The Author: Anne Shale
Anne Shale is of counsel to Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues. She is a former registered nurse and concentrates her practice in Family Law and Divorce cases.

Support Payments and The Support Enforcement Agency
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