The duties of the Trumbull County CSEA span a wide variety of discrete actions all geared toward moving a case forward into full compliance. Each of these actions has its place in the cycle of enforcement with the support officer being called upon from time-to-time to move through certain processes designed to get a non-paying case back on track. The enforcement tools which make up these processes can be initiated when called for by the circumstances and can be brought into play at any time during the course of the year.
There are, however, certain enforcement tools and case management actions which happen during certain specific times of the year which bear further discussion. These seasonal processes include the following: tax offset season, lump sum season, and termination season.
Lump Sump Season
Lump sum payments are benefits other than personal earnings that the obligor is receiving or is eligible to receive. These usually are payments made as bonuses or incentives generally given out during the year-end or Christmas season. The statute which allows the CSEA to garnish these payments does not treat social security benefits or vacation pay as eligible for garnishment under the lump sum definition.
Under Ohio law, payors/employers are required to notify the CSEA of a lump sum payment in the amount of $150 or more which they are about to make to an obligor for whom support is being withheld. The payor/employer is required to submit this notification to the CSEA no later than 45 days prior to the date such a payment is to be made or, in cases where this date cannot be met, the date on which that payor/employer determines that the lump sum payment is due to the obligor.
The payor/employer is then required to hold lump sum payment for 30 days beyond the date on which this payment would otherwise have been paid to the obligor. During this period of time, the agency will determine if the obligor is in default under the support order or has any arrearages owed. If so, the agency will issue an administrative order requiring the payor to transmit the lump sum payment to the CSEA. In cases where the obligor is not in default and does not have any outstanding arrearages, the agency will issue an administrative order directing the payor to immediately pay the full amount of this lump sum payment to the obligor.
The above mentioned process is executed in cases governed by an administrative child support order. In cases governed by a court order, our agency will recommend that the court issue an order requiring the payor to either remit this payment to the CSEA to satisfy the child support debt or to immediately pay it to the obligor.
Tax Offset Season
The Trumbull County CSEA has been actively pursuing child support offenders through the Federal and State Tax Offset Programs. These programs are designed to collect delinquent child support from those individuals who are in arrears on their support obligations.
The specific parameters for tax offset are as follows: For the Federal Program submittal depends upon whether or not the custodial parent was on public assistance. In public assistance cases, the amount owed must be at least $150 with payments delinquent for at least three months. In non-public assistance cases, the amount owed must be at least $500 and the child affected by the order must be minor as of December 31st of the submittal year. Under the Ohio Offset Program, the child support debt must be at least $150 with payments delinquent for three months or longer.
The CSEA's tax offset season begins each year during October when letters go out to our delinquent non-custodial parents informing them of an anticipated tax garnishment action. These letters will bear our Trumbull County letterhead but are actually sent out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement from a list forwarded by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Parents receiving the notice from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement can also expect to receive a similar letter a week or two later from the Ohio Department of Taxation notifying them of an anticipated state income tax interception.
Recipients of these letters can request that the agency conduct a tax offset administrative review. Situations which qualify for administrative review (which can lead to stopping your tax refund from being offset) are as follows:
- The obligor is the debtor in an open bankruptcy case under Title 7, 11, 12 or 13 of the United States Code.
- Each child subject to the support order was or will be at least 18 years old on December 31st of the current tax year and has never received public assistance.
- The most recent support order between the parties indicates that the arrearage was under the submission amount ($500 for non-public assistance cases and $150 for public assistance cases).
- The obligor decides to pay the arrearage owed.
Once an individual applies for an administrative review, the CSEA has 30 days to determine whether a case should remain eligible for the tax offset or be deleted from the program.
The agency may also be submitting the names of certain obligors (those whose cases on the tax offset list reflect arrearages of $5,000 or more) to the U.S. State Department for action under the Passport Denial Program.
Under Ohio law, the age of majority is 18 years of age and it is on this birthdate that most support orders terminate. The duty of a parent to pay support under an administrative child support order can continue beyond the age of 18 if the child continuously attends, on a full-time basis, any recognized and accredited high school. The support order shall terminate, however, in the latter case once the child reaches the age of 19.
The above mentioned parameters apply also to judicial child support orders except that such orders may be written to require payment of support to continue beyond age 19.
So, when agency records indicate that your child will become eighteen years of age on a certain date this could result in the termination of support for this child unless he or she attends high school on a full-time basis or your order states that support will continue past the age of 19. Note: Termination of the order does not cancel the CSEA's authority to collect overdue or unpaid support on behalf of the obligee or the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. It does mean, however, that the regular or current support obligation will cease.
Notices of emancipation will be sent to both the custodial and non-custodial parents of those children expected to graduate high school in June. If the parents on the case wish to agree to the projected date of emancipation and to the amount of arrearage owed, if any, on the case, they can contact the agency to request that we file an agreed termination entry. Taking this action will speed up the termination process by permitting us to waive the statutory time frame for completing this process. Parents who disagree with the arrearage amount stated in this notice can request a mistake of fact hearing by completing the form enclosed with our notice and returning it to us within seven days.
After your termination order has been issued, parents with other minor children covered by the support order may request a review for adjustment of that order to assure that they are receiving/paying the correct amount under Ohio's Child Support Guidelines.