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How are child support orders issued?

  • If a child is born out of wedlock, either party can call the FCJFS Child Support Enforcement Agency and ask to establish paternity.  Once that happens, a case worker can help get a child support order.  Child support orders are also often issued with a divorce or dissolution. 

How is the amount of support determined?

  • Court or administrative orders determine the legal requirement to pay support and how much that payment will be.  Cases involving children born out of wedlock, or cases involving parents who are married, but separated, are handled through the Court of Domestic Relations.  Cases involving divorce are handled through the Court of Domestic Relations.  

When will I receive my child support check?

  • An employer is legally required to begin a paycheck withholding no later than the first pay period that occurs after fourteen business days following the date the Notice of Income Withholding is mailed or transmitted from the CSEA.  However, the CSEA cannot send the Notice of Income Withholding to an employer until the Court (Judge) has formally approved, signed, and returned a filed copy of the order for support to the CSEA.  As a result, it can take in excess of four weeks for the paycheck withholding to commence.  As a result, the Obligor (payor) is encouraged to make child support payments through the CSEA on his/her own during this period of time. Once the wage withholding is effective, the employer must mail the payment in within 7 days of deducting from the employee’s paycheck.

  • If an employer withholding is not in place, child support payments will not be distributed to the Obligee (recipient) until the child support Obligor (payor) makes a payment.  

Can taxes be intercepted to pay child support arrearages?

  • Yes, under tax offset, if your account is more than $150 in arrears, the case may be referred for tax offset. If child support enforcement has identified your case for tax offset, the absent parent will receive a notification letter in October or early November. If money is due to the state for past public assistance, the tax intercept will go to the state. If the absent parent should pay off the arrearage at any time after receiving the notification he/she is to contact child support enforcement in this regard. Due to the complexity of the Tax Intercept Program, we may not be able to delete the case from the list.

    Even though you may be paying an additional amount towards the arrearage, this does not exempt you from tax offset program.

What are the penalties for nonpayment of child support? 

  • Penalties for nonpayment are both administrative and court-ordered. 


    Administrative penalties for default (arrearages exceed your monthly support obligation) consist of tax interception, bank account seizure, reporting delinquency to the credit bureau, passport denial, and driver’s, recreational or professional license suspension. 


    Court-ordered penalties consist of findings of contempt, as well as misdemeanor and felony nonsupport convictions. Contempt is a civil finding, punishable by up to thirty (1st contempt), sixty (2nd contempt), or ninety (3rd contempt) days in jail.  Because contempt is a civil finding and the goal of such a finding is to increase support payments, the nonpaying party is provided an opportunity to extinguish the sentence, prior to it being imposed.  A criminal misdemeanor carries with it a maximum jail sentence of 180 days and five years of community control.  A criminal felony conviction permits a maximum sentence of one year and five years of community control.  To qualify for a contempt or a misdemeanor, the stature requires only that a party not being paying as ordered, whereas a felony requires nonpayment for six of twenty-four months.

Does the CSEA address parenting time or custody?

  • The CSEA does not have the legal authority to order or enforce parenting time or custody.  In Fairfield County, Domestic Relations Court is generally the proper venue for a custody or parenting time filing.  Such a filing cannot be initiated by the CSEA, and must be filed directly by the the individual party.  

  • All filings in Domestic Relations Court must be filed through the Fairfield County Clerk of Courts - Domestic Relations.  For further information regarding this process, please reach out to the Fairfield County Clerk of Courts - Domestic Relations in person at the Hall of Justice - 4th Floor, 224 E. Main St., Lancaster, OH 43130, via telephone at (740) 652-7357, or online at Legal Department - Fairfield County Clerk of Courts, Lancaster, Ohio.

  • For Domestic Relations Court forms, such as sample Motions and Notices, please visit Court Forms - Judge Laura B. Smith, Domestic Relations in Lancaster, Ohio 43130 (fairfield.oh.us).

Does the CSEA legally represent the custodial parent in court actions?

  • No, legally, the CSEA represents neither the custodial parent, nor the custodial parent.  Our client is the State of Ohio, and our customers are free to hire their own legal representation for child support proceedings.

Does the CSEA have its own Magistrate or Judge?

  • The CSEA has a courtroom and a Magistrate in its building.  While conveniently located, this courtroom and Magistrate are part of the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas – Domestic Relations Division, and operate entirely separate from and independent of the CSEA.