By Robert L. Mues   |   May 15th, 2021

What you need to know about the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) in Ohio

csea child support enforcement

Clients have many questions about the purpose and role of the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) in Ohio. So, I thought that posting this blog might be helpful! I have pulled and merged useful information from various sites.


Parents have a duty to support their children. The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) was established with the Federal Government’s enactment of Child Support Enforcement and Paternity Establishment Program  (CSE) in 1975 to reduce welfare expenses by collecting child support from non-custodial parents.

This program works with State and County agencies by helping locate parents, establishing legal fatherhood (paternity), establishing and enforcing fair support orders, increasing health care coverage for children, removing barriers to payment, such as referring parents to employment services, supporting healthy co-parenting relationships, supporting responsible fatherhood, and helping to prevent and reduce family violence. In Ohio, this unit is administered by the local county Department of Job and Family Services. Click here to go to the Ohio CSEA  website.


  1. Establishment of a Support Order

    If a person does not already receive support, the child’s parent, guardian, legal custodian, or the person with whom the child lives (considered the residential parent) can contact the CSEA for assistance in obtaining an order for the payment of child support and health care for the child(ren).

  2. Paternity Establishment

    Paternity establishment refers to the legal determination of being named as a child’s father. The paternity establishment process is available at any time before the child attains 23 years of age. Paternity can be determined even if the other parent lives in another state or even in a foreign country. It can be established in the following ways:

    1. The voluntary acknowledgment process refers to completion of a form known as an “Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit “. You can complete this at the hospital when your child is born, before both parents leave the hospital. It can also be completed at your county’s CSEA or your local Vital Statistics Registrar.
    2. If a case is contested or if there is some doubt as to the parentage of the child, either parent may request that the CSEA conduct genetic testing to determine the father of the child. The CSEA will then order all parties to submit to genetic testing and will issue an administrative paternity order based on the outcome of the genetic test. For a paternity order to be established, the test must show at least a 99% probability of fatherhood. If either parent refuses to submit to genetic testing or to allow their child to do so, the CSEA can request for the court to find that parent in contempt and determine the issue of paternity.
    3. The CSEA can be bypassed. A lawyer can file your requests and a Juvenile Court may issue an Order determining a legal parent/child relationship.
  3. Help Locating the Child’s Father:

    The CSEA can help find the physical location of the non-custodial parent and the CSEA can help identify if the non-custodial parent has an employer, or other sources of income and assets, so the next steps to establish or enforce a child support order can be taken. The Federal government has also established the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS), to help locate non-custodial parents. Multiple sources are used to locate non-custodial parents, their employment information, and their financial resources, including:

    • Information from the custodial parents,
    • Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV),
    • United States Postal Service (USPS),
    • Child Support Enforcement Network (CSENet),
    • Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations (OUIO),
    • ODJFS Office of Child Support, Interstate Central Registry,
    • Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC),
    • Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics,
    • Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC),
    • Credit Bureaus,
    • Internet Search Engines,
    • Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS), and
    • Ohio New Hire Employer Directory.
  4. Enforcement:

    An overwhelming majority of parents pay their child support as required. However, if you are not paying your child support, penalties can be severe.

    Penalties can include:

    • Suspension of driving, hunting, fishing, professional and other license(s)
    • Liens on real estate or personal property
    • Seizure of tax refunds
    • Seizure of bank funds
    • Bad credit rating
    • Passport denial
    • Interception of lottery prizes, lump sum awards, inheritances
    • Legal action

    Tax Intercept:

    If your past-due support is $150 or more, your case will automatically be submitted to the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT). You may also be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Once that happens, your tax refunds will be forwarded to the CSEA to satisfy past-due support. You will get a notice stating the amount of money that needs to be taken to satisfy your past-due support.

    Passport Denial:

    If your past-due child support is over $2,500, your case will be submitted to the U.S. State Department. They will refuse to issue a passport to you until the CSEA notifies them that the past-due amount has been paid.

    Legal Action:

    If a person repeatedly fails to meet their child support obligation, the case will be taken to court for contempt. People can also be found in contempt for:

    • Failure to obey a subpoena or refusal to answer as a witness
    • Failure to submit themselves or the child for genetic testing
    • Failure to comply with the provisions of a child support order

    The standard sentence for a first finding of contempt is 30 days in jail. A substantial payment of support can usually avoid jail time. If someone fails to pay for 26 weeks over a two-year period, he/she can be found guilty of criminal non-support. This felony can result in up to five years in prison, plus fines.


    Establishing parenthood may provide legal, emotional, social, and economic ties between a parent and child. Establishing parenthood should make it easier for a child to find out about medical problems that may run in the family. Establishing parenthood makes it easier for the child to qualify as a dependent for the parent’s disability, retirement, or veteran’s benefits, or for an inheritance as next-of-kin if the parent dies. In addition, to establish a child support order paternity must be established.

    NOTE: That establishing parenthood DOES NOT establish visitation/parenting time. That must be handled by the Court. The CSEA will not assist with that proceeding!


Every county has a local support agency to help you get, modify or collect child support. To find the local child support agency in your county, call 1-800-686-1556. As an alternative, a family law attorney can help you on support matters if you would prefer not to go through the CSEA. Our experienced Dayton divorce lawyers at Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues can assist you with your support issues. To learn more, please go to our website at or call us at 937 293-2141. We can schedule an in-person conference or one by phone or Zoom. We look forward to helping you!

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Robert L. MuesAbout The Author: Robert L. Mues
Attorney Robert "Chip" Mues has been focusing his legal practice throughout Southwest Ohio primarily in divorce and family law matters since 1978. Chip is passionate about family law and has proudly published the Ohio Family Law Blog since 2007. In addition, he is the managing partner of Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues. To learn more about him or the law firm, visit the firm's website at Appointments are available in person, over the phone or by Zoom. Call us at 937 293-2141.

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