Locating non-custodial parents
To establish the paternity of a child, obtain an order of support, or enforce that order, a legal notice must be given to the alleged or absent parent. The notice must comply with Civil rules of Procedure which require that documentation that the persons involved have received appropriate notice. Notice is often given by certified mail or by personal service by the Sheriff's office. This requires that the Child Support office have correct home or employment addresses. If a Child Support applicant does not know the location of the other parent, the Child Support office can assist in locating alleged or absent parents.
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A support order cannot be established for a child who is born to unmarried parents until the alleged father acknowledges paternity or is proven to be the father. Paternity can be established by the signing of a document to be filed with the court acknowledging paternity or, in some cases, an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit which is filed with the Ohio Central Paternity Registry. If the alleged father or mother are uncertain as to parentage, genetic testing can be arranged at a laboratory which is certified to perform such tests. In many instances, genetic testing is available through the Child Support office at no cost to the parents. Paternity can be established by agreement or by court orders.
Paternity establishment can provide basic emotional, social and economic ties between a father and his child. Once paternity is established legally, a child gains legal rights and privileges. Among these may be rights to inheritance, access to medical history and to other benefits such as veterans or Social Security.
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Establishing child and medical support orders
Ohio Child Support Guidelines are established by law and are used to determine how much child support is appropriate. Some factors which are taken into consideration are the incomes of each parent, other children who are entitled to support from each parent, costs of medical insurance and day care expenses. Child Support orders may be established at the local Child Support Office or at the appropriate court. Each child support order will address medical insurance needs. There are some circumstances which would allow the court to deviate from the standard guidelines such as a child's special needs. Just as every family is unique, so are the factors used for determining child support.
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Enforcing child support
A main objective of the Child Support Enforcement program is to make sure that child support payments are made regularly and in the correct amount. While many non-custodial parents are involved in their children's lives and are willing to pay child support, lapses of payment do occur. When they do, a family's budget can be quickly and seriously threatened, and the anxiety the custodial parent feels can easily disrupt the family's life.
All new support orders are issued with immediate wage withholdings. For older orders, federal law requires that a provision for wage withholding for child support if there is an arrearage in the amount of at least one month's obligation.
Ohio also has laws which allow our office to use other enforcement techniques, such as seizing state and federal income tax refunds, liens on real or personal property, or seizure and sale of property with the proceeds from the sale applied to the support debt.
Contempt of court proceedings can also be initiated when support payments are not paid as ordered. The non-custodial parent will be summoned to court to show why he or she should not be held in contempt for not paying child support as ordered. Depending on whether it is a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense the non-custodial parent could be sentenced to prison for 30, 60 or 90 days.
If a non-custodial parent does not pay child support for a total accumulated period of twenty-six weeks out of one hundred four consecutive weeks, whether or not the twenty-six weeks were consecutive, the non-custodial parent could be guilty of nonsupport of dependents (fifth degree felony) and be subject to eighteen months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
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The most difficult child support cases to pursue are those in which the parent obligated to pay child support lives in One state and the child and custodial parent live in another. However, all states are required to pursue establishment and enforcement of support obligations as vigorously for children who live outside their border as for those under their own jurisdiction. Federal law requires states to work through the necessary steps that lead to enforcement within specific time frames.
State enforcement agencies must cooperate with each other in handling requests for assistance. However, it is not a simple matter for one state to enforce the court orders of another state. Each state has an independent court system with varying laws, practices and traditions. Matters of family law have traditionally been under state and local governments, and, in general, citizens are under the jurisdiction of courts where they live.
Direct wage withholdings can be used to enforce a support order in another state if the non-custodial parent's employer is known. However some states do not allow direct wage withholding for unemployment benefits, worker's compensation and in some cases, even employers. In that situation, the CSE office in that state will accept our wage withholding along with a request to set up a case in their system for disbursement of money only to our state. For out-of-state orders, it is our policy to complete a request (UIFSA package) to the state of non-custodial parent's residence requesting enforcement, wage withholding, etc. as differences in arrears and/or orders can and do exist.
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