Archive for November, 2012

Child Support Bill Likely to be Passed During General Assembly’s Lame Duck Session

House Bill 561 (HB 561)—sponsored by Representative Lynn Slaby—was introduced last May and has been assigned to the House Judiciary and Ethics Committee.  It is on a “fast track” and will likely be passed by the Ohio General Assembly before the end of this year.

The Ohio Child Support Directors Association (OCDA) drafted and is pushing for quick passage of HB 561 in order to address inconsistencies in current child support laws and to bring Ohio into full compliance with federal IV-D rules governing expedited administrative processes and applications for IV-D child support enforcement services. There are significant changes regarding the timeframes for appealing certain CSEA actions or recommendations, the scope of the state income tax intercept mechanism, the requirements for discharging an existing lien on a defaulting obligor’s property, the effective date on an administrative child support order, and the effective date of initial administrative child support orders.  The bill is also likely to be amended to include language drafted by Mike Smalz of the Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC) giving courts and child support enforcement agencies (CSEAs) jurisdiction and  authority to lower arrearage-only payments and income withholding after the termination of the current child support order.  This article summarizes the major proposed changes.

1)      Reduces from thirty to fourteen days after the issuance of a CSEA administrative order, decision or notice or receipt of notice the time period for:

  • objecting to an administrative order determining parentage, objecting to an administrative support order by bringing an action for the payment of support and provision for a child’s health care;
  • requesting a hearing on modification of child support by a CSEA;
  • requesting an administrative hearing following a CSEA investigation of a reason to terminate child support; and
  • moving for a judicial determination of a CSEA decision following investigation of a reason to terminate child support.

2)      Increases from seven to fourteen days the time period for an obligor to request a mistake of fact hearing or a subsequent court hearing regarding a CSEA default determination or a CSEA determination regarding the availability of private health insurance at a reasonable cost.

3)      Expands the State income tax intercept mechanism to include collection of overdue spousal support.

Current law allows CSEAs to work with the Tax Commissioner to collect overdue child support; the law will allow CSEAs to recover any overdue support, not just child support, through a state income tax intercept so long as the case is a IV-D case.  (This change will affect cases involving both child support and spousal support orders, but should not affect spousal support-only cases.)

4)      Eliminates the automatic requirement that CSEAs discharge a lien against a delinquent support obligor upon the issuance of a new income withholding or a deduction notice or a new support order.

CSEAs would have discretion to decide whether or not to file a notice requesting that the county recorder discharge the lien on an obligor’s real or personal property in cases where a new income withholding notice or support order has been issued to collect accrued arrears.

5)      When the CSEA issues an initial administrative child support order, the order will become effective on the date of the administrative hearing.

Therefore, if the obligor or obligee appeals the administrative child support order to the juvenile court and the administrative order is upheld, the order will be in effect retroactive to the date of the CSEA’s administrative hearing.

6)      Gives the court discretion to reduce arrearage-only payments and income withholding below the amount ordered to be paid and withheld to pay both current child and arrears under the child support order that was in effect during the child’s minority.

This change should benefit low income obligors who experience a drastic decline in income sometime after the termination of their current child support obligation and before the liquidation of the entire arrearage.  For example, if the child turns 18, thereby terminating the current child support obligation, and the obligor later becomes disabled and his only income is SSD benefits, he could ask the court or CSEA to lower his arrearage-only payments because of his drastically changes circumstances. By contrast, under current law the obligor would be required to continue to pay the same amount, regardless of any change in circumstances or personal hardship, until the entire arrearage was paid off.

The ODJFS Child Support Guidelines Council voted to recommend the last change as an amendment to HB 561.  Although that provision is not currently in the bill, the OCDA plans to incorporate that amendment into HB 561 before it is passed by the General Assembly during the lame duck session.  The proposed language is:

3121.36 Authority to collect arrearage after termination of order.

The termination of a court support order or administrative child support order does not abate the power of any court or child support enforcement agency to collect any overdue and unpaid support or arrearage owed under the terminated support order or the power of the court to punish any person for a failure to comply with, or to pay any support as ordered in, the terminated support order. The termination does not abate the authority of the court or agency to issue any notice described in section 3121.03 of the Revised Code or to issue any applicable order as described in division (C) or (D) of 3121.03 of the Revised Code to collect any overdue and unpaid support or arrearage owed under the terminated support order. If a notice is issued pursuant to 3121.03 of the Revised Code to collect the overdue and unpaid support or arrearage, the amount withheld or deducted from the obligor’s personal earnings, income, or accounts shall be REBUTTABLY PRESUMED TO BE at least equal to the amount that was withheld or deducted under the terminated child support order. A COURT OR CHILD SUPPORT ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY ADMINISTERING THE CHILD SUPPORT ORDER MAY CONSIDER EVIDENCE OF HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITUTES, INCOME VARIABLES, EXTRAORDINARY HEALTH CARE ISSUES, AND OTHER REASONS FOR DEVIATION FROM THE PRESUMED AMOUNT.

Effective Date: 03-22-2001

3123.14 Collecting arrearage where order is terminated.

If a child support order is terminated for any reason, the obligor under the child support order is or was at any time in default under the support order and, after the termination of the order, the obligor owes an arrearage under the order, the obligee may make application to the child support enforcement agency that administered the child support order prior to its termination or had authority to administer the child support order to maintain any action or proceeding on behalf of the obligee to obtain a judgment, execution of a judgment through any available procedure, an order, or other relief. If a withholding or deduction notice is issued pursuant to section 3121.03 of the Revised Code to collect an arrearage, the amount withheld or deducted from the obligor’s personal earnings, income, or accounts shall be REBUTTABLY PRESUMED TO BE at least equal to the amount that was withheld or deducted under the terminated child support order. A COURT OR CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT AGENCY ADMINISTERING THE CHILD SUPPORT ORDER MAY CONSIDER EVIDENCE OF HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURES, INCOME VARIABLES, EXTRAORDINARY HEALTH CARE ISSUES, AND OTHER REASONS FOR DEVIATION FROM THE PRESUMED AMOUNT.

Effective Date: 03-22-2001

The Ohio Poverty Law Center will monitor the progress of HB 561 and, in particular, the proposed arrearage-only payment amendment.  If anyone has any questions about HB 561, they should contact Mike Smalz at the Ohio Poverty Law Center, at msmalz@ohiopovertylaw.org.

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