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Enforcement 

OCSE has various methods that are used in open enforcement cases to help collect child support. OCSE will choose the enforcement method that is best for your case. One or more of the following methods may be used to enforce your case. Your case may not qualify for any of these methods if the selection criteria are not met. OCSE may use additional methods to collect past due child support.

Contempt Proceedings for Non-Payment of Support
A person may be found in contempt of court if the person fails to do something that the court ordered that person to do or if that person does something that the court orders the person not to do. OCSE may ask the court to find a noncustodial parent in contempt of court for not making support payments. If the court finds the noncustodial parent in contempt, it may order the noncustodial parent to be placed in jail until the noncustodial parent meets certain conditions.

Criteria:
The child support agency may pursue contempt action against the noncustodial parent if:

  • the noncustodial parent owes support according to an order or decree for support; and 
  • the noncustodial parent is not complying with a written payment plan approved by the court or OCSE and all administrative remedies have been exhausted.

Note:
There may be other circumstances specific to your case that affect whether a contempt action may be filed against a noncustodial parent.

Exclusions:
The child support agency must have the noncustodial parent's current address and be able to serve him or her with legal documents before a contempt action may proceed.

Credit Bureau Reporting
OCSE reports overdue child support to credit bureaus monthly. Once the past due support has been reported to the credit bureaus, then banks or other creditors that review the noncustodial parent's credit report may limit or deny credit until the noncustodial parent clears up the credit report by making full payment of the child support debt. Once the noncustodial parent has been reported to the credit bureaus, all the noncustodial parent's cases must be paid in full before reporting will stop.

Criteria: The child support agency can report the noncustodial parent's past due support to the credit bureau if:

  • the noncustodial parent was court-ordered to pay support; and 
  • the noncustodial parent owes past due support balance exceeds or previously exceeded $1,000.

Exclusions:
The child support agency cannot report the noncustodial parent's past due support to the credit bureau if:

  • the case does not meet the criteria; or 
  • there is a court order that prohibits it.

Federal Criminal Nonsupport
OCSE may refer a case for federal criminal nonsupport against a noncustodial parent who is intentionally not paying support for a child in another state. OCSE will refer cases that meet the criteria to the U.S. Attorney's office. It is the discretion of the U.S. Attorney's office to accept or reject a case referred by OCSE for federal criminal nonsupport.

Criteria:
The child support agency can ask the U.S. Attorney to pursue federal criminal nonsupport against a noncustodial parent if:

  • the child resides in another state; and 
  • the noncustodial parent had the ability to pay the support obligation; and 
  • the noncustodial parent willfully failed to pay the support obligation; and 
  • the noncustodial parent has not made any payments within the last year or has accrued past due support of at least $5,000; and
  • OCSE has exhausted all reasonable, available legal remedies.

Exclusions:
The case will not be referred if:

  • it does not meet the criteria; or 
  • the noncustodial parent has an active bankruptcy.

Financial Institution Data Match (FIDM)
Financial Institution Data Match (FIDM) is an enforcement tool that allows OCSE to match noncustodial parents who owe child support arrears with financial assets they own. The account assets may be seized by a levy and applied to the noncustodial parent's child support arrears.

Criteria:
The child support agency may levy against the noncustodial parent's financial assets if the following is true:

  • the arrears must be at least $500 or equal to three months' obligation, whichever is greater; and
  • no payment has been made within the last 45 days.

Exclusions:
The child support agency will not levy against a noncustodial parent's financial accounts if:

  • the case does not meet the criteria; or 
  • there is a court order that prohibits levy action on the noncustodial parent's financial accounts; or 
  • the noncustodial parent has an active bankruptcy; or 
  • the noncustodial parent is receiving TEA.

Income Withholding
Income withholding is the deduction of the current child support and arrears from a noncustodial parent's wages, Social Security Disability, Workers Compensation, Unemployment benefits, or other sources of income.

Note:
Based on federal and state law, an order for child support payments may not be based on or withheld from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Criteria:
All new or modified support orders issued by the court must contain automatic withholding provisions unless the court states otherwise.

An employer should start withholding as soon as they receive the notice to withhold. Employers must implement withholding when they become aware of the obligation or no later than the first pay period that occurs after 14 days following the date of the notice from the court, the child support agency, the custodial party, the noncustodial parent, or a private attorney.

Employers must submit the child support payment withheld to OCSE on the same date the employee was paid the remainder of the income.

Income withholding for current support and arrearages has priority over any other attachment, execution, garnishment, or wage assignment.

Exclusions:
The child support agency will not use income withholding on a case if:

  • there is a court order that prohibits it; or 
  • the noncustodial parent has an active bankruptcy filed prior to October 17, 2005, and there is no lift of stay granted.

Note:
OCSE will seek permission from the Bankruptcy Trustee to implement income withholding for current support. Arrears will be paid from the bankruptcy plan.

License Suspension
License Suspension is an enforcement procedure where OCSE suspends the following licenses of the noncustodial parent because he or she owes past due child support:  commercial and regular driver's licenses, including motorcycles; permanent license plates; recreational licenses (for example, hunting and fishing); and occupational, professional, and business license.

Criteria:
The child support agency may suspend the noncustodial parent's licenses if the noncustodial parent:

  • owes past due support in an amount equal to or greater than three times the noncustodial parent's total monthly support obligation; or 
  • is the subject of an outstanding failure to appear, body attachment, or bench warrant related to a child support proceeding.

Exclusions:
The child support agency will not take action to suspend a noncustodial parent's license if:

  • the noncustodial parent pays the past due amount below an amount equal to three months' obligation; or
  • the noncustodial parent has an active bankruptcy filed prior to October 17, 2005; or 
  • the noncustodial parent is currently in compliance with or enters into an agreed order or a written installment agreement with OCSE; or
  • the noncustodial parent is making regular payments voluntarily in an amount equal to current support plus at least 20% toward the arrears; or
  • the noncustodial parent is paying to the extent permitted under Consumer Credit Protection Act guidelines; or
  • there is a court order that prohibits the suspension of the noncustodial parent's licenses. 

Passport Denial
By federal law, noncustodial parents who meet the criteria are automatically referred to the Department of State for passport denial.

Criteria:
OCSE will certify the noncustodial parent for passport denial if the noncustodial parent owes past due support in an amount equal to or greater than $2,500.

Exclusions:
The child support agency will not refer a noncustodial for passport denial if:

  • the case does not meet the criteria; or 
  • the noncustodial parent has an active bankruptcy filed prior to October 17, 2005; or 
  • there is a court order that prohibits passport denial; or 
  • the enforcement case has not been open long enough to give the noncustodial parent all due process rights.

State Criminal Nonsupport
OCSE may refer a case for state criminal nonsupport against a noncustodial parent who meets the criteria. It is the discretion of the prosecuting attorney's office to accept or reject a case referred by OCSE for state criminal nonsupport.

Criteria:
The child support agency must refer cases to the prosecuting attorney to pursue state criminal nonsupport against a noncustodial parent when:

  • the enforcement case has been open with OCSE for at least the preceding 12 months; and
  • more than $10,000 in child support is owed and remains unpaid; and
  • there are no regular child support payments made within the last 180 days; and
  • the custodial party provides an affidavit providing the value of any items received in lieu of support payments, known income sources, and requesting that the offense be prosecuted.

Exclusions:
The case will not be referred if:

  • the case is scheduled to close; or
  • the noncustodial parent has been incarcerated within the preceding 12 months.

Tax Offset
Federal Tax Offset - The Federal Tax Offset program is a method OCSE uses to collect a noncustodial parent's child support arrears by intercepting any federal income tax refund a noncustodial parent may be eligible to receive. By federal law, noncustodial parents who meet the criteria are automatically certified for federal tax offset.

Criteria:
OCSE will certify the noncustodial parent for federal tax offset to pay past-due support that he or she owes if:

  • the total of past-due support owed on all of the noncustodial parent's cases is at least $500 if there is no past-due support owed to the state 
  • the total of past-due support owed on all of the noncustodial parent's cases is at least $150 if there is past-due support owed to the state

Exclusions:
OCSE will not take the noncustodial parent's federal tax refund if:

  • the case does not meet the criteria; or 
  • the noncustodial parent has an active bankruptcy filed prior to October 17, 2005; or 
  • there is a court order that prohibits federal tax intercept; or 
  • the enforcement case has not been open long enough to give the noncustodial parent all due process rights.

Note:
Once OCSE submits noncustodial parents for federal tax offset, the IRS directs tax intercept money to the appropriate agencies. A noncustodial parent's tax intercept may go to pay a federal tax debt or to another state's child support agency. Also, if the noncustodial parent has more than one case, collections from Federal Tax Offset are pro-rated so that each family receives part of the collection.

State Tax Offset - State Tax Offset is a way OCSE collects the noncustodial parent's child support arrears by intercepting his or her state income tax refund a noncustodial parent may be eligible to receive.

Criteria:
OCSE will certify the noncustodial parent for a state tax offset:

  • the total of past due support owed on all of the noncustodial parent's cases is at least $100 if there is no past due support owed to the state
  • the total of past due support owed on all of the noncustodial parent's cases is at least $50 if there is past-due support owed to the state
  • the noncustodial parent owes at least $50 in unpaid fees to OCSE

Exclusions:
The child support agency will not intercept the noncustodial parent's state tax refund if:

  • the noncustodial parent does not meet the criteria; or 
  • there is a court order that prohibits it; or 
  • the noncustodial parent has an active bankruptcy filed prior to October 17, 2005.

Note:
Collections from state tax offset are distributed as a regular collection. Current monthly obligations will be satisfied before any part of the collection is applied to arrears. Also, if the noncustodial parent has more than one case, collections from state tax offset are pro-rated so that each family receives part of the collection.