In Ohio, an Order for Child Support is considered equally enforceable as any other court order issued within the state. As such, Ohio law affords child support recipients the same opportunities to collect back-owed support payments as it does all other disregarded judgments. Custodial parents who are owed back-owed support can contact the Child Support Enforcement Agency in their county of residence for assistance.
Child Support Enforcement Agency
The Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) handles all child support matters throughout the state of Ohio. The CSEA is responsible for handling back-owed child support matters, enforcing child support orders and encouraging non-custodial parents to comply with support orders under penalty of fines, jail time and other punishments. To initiate enforcement for back-owed support, contact the county CSEA office where you reside.
Status as Debt
Back-owed support is no longer considered support once the payments are missed. Instead, Ohio law considers it a debt to the custodial parent. This is because the support should have covered certain expenses, such as food, clothing, shelter, education and entertainment costs, that the custodial parent had to pay for herself when she did not receive the money. Though child support is an obligation to the child, back-owed support is an obligation to the custodial parent, one that remains in effect until it is paid back in full.
If the non-custodial parent refuses to pay support as ordered by the court, there are multiple ways to enforce the order. Custodial parents can request wage garnishment (including regular wages, worker‘s compensation earnings, pensions, trusts and disability payments), wage assignment and property seizures from the court to both cover the amount of back-owed support and guarantee future payments. Even if the non-custodial parent finally pays back the back-owed support in full, he may still be subject to fines and other punishments.
Ohio laws considers non-custodial parents who refuse to comply with child support orders to be in contempt of court. Custodial parents can request the family court find the non-custodial parent in contempt if the non-custodial parent refuses to pay support, ignores or evades enforcement or purposely conceals information to avoid her obligations. If the non-custodial parent is found in contempt, she may receive fines and even jail time until she complies with the order.
After enforcement is initiated, the CSEA affords the non-custodial parent 60 calendar days to comply with the support order. After 60 days, the CSEA will provide the custodial parent with written notification about the case’s status. Most cases are closed after 60 days, but this does not terminate the non-custodial parent’s obligation to pay all back-ordered support (if it still has not yet been paid in full), nor does it mean the non-custodial parent will not be punished for ignoring the order.
Even if the Order for Child Support is terminated upon the child’s 18th birthday (or 23rd, if the child attends college), all back-owed child support is still due. Child support is considered a financial obligation, and back-owed support is a debt--one that does not dissolve simply because the order expired. Remember, back-owed child support is a debt owed to the custodial parent, and it is considered reimbursement for the money the custodial parent had to spend herself in lieu of the support covering those expenses. Back-owed child support is expressly excluded from bankruptcy discharge, so the debt will remain effective until the day the last dollar owed is paid in full.