General Questions About OCSE

General Questions About OCSE

What is the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)? 
Arkansas' Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is organized under the Department of Finance and Administration - Division of Revenue, and is here to ensure that assistance is available in obtaining child support services and in collecting and disbursing child support payments to families.

Who can get help from OCSE? 
Any parent or person with custody of a child who needs help to establish a child support or medical support order or to collect support payments can apply for child support enforcement services. Even if you or the other parent lives in another state, you can apply for services in Arkansas. Relatives or other caretakers who have physical custody of a child are also entitled to child support services. Services to noncustodial parents are limited to a review and modification of their existing order. There are no income eligibility requirements or restrictions in order to apply for services.

How do I open a case with OCSE? 
If you are not currently receiving TEA services through the Department of Human Services, you must complete and submit an application for services. Applications are available online, at your local OCSE office, or you may call 501-682-8398 to request that an application be sent to you.

Does OCSE charge an application fee for its services? 
If you are not currently receiving public assistance as mentioned above, then there is a non-refundable fee of $25 to process your application and open your case. A separate application plus $25 is required for each noncustodial parent.

There are no fees charged for those who currently receive TEA or Medicaid, including Arkansas Works and ARKids 1st; nor are there fees charged for IV-E Foster Care cases.

Are there any other costs? 
OCSE recovers part of the actual costs of services from both custodial and noncustodial parents who are not in either the TEA or Medicaid program. Costs include, but are not limited to, the cost of legal work done by OCSE attorneys, costs of establishing paternity, and costs of locating a noncustodial parent. The costs may be deducted from the child support payment before it is sent to you or may be collected from the noncustodial parent. A fee schedule is provided in the Request for Services booklet.

What does OCSE need to know to service my case? 
No matter where you start - establishing paternity, finding a noncustodial parent, establishing or enforcing a support order - OCSE must have enough information to work on your case effectively. All information you provide will be treated in confidence. The more details you provide, the easier it will be to process your case and to collect child support payments for your children. Provide as much of the following information and documentation as possible: 

  • Information about the noncustodial parent 

                - Name, address, and Social Security number 
                - Name and address of current or recent employer 
                - Names of friends and relatives, names of organizations to which he or she might belong 
                - Information about his or her income and assets - pay slips, tax returns, bank accounts, investments, or property holdings 
                - Physical description, or photograph, if possible 

  • Birth certificates of children 
  • If paternity is an issue, written statements (letters or notes) in which the alleged father has said or implied that he is the father of the child 
  • Your child support order, divorce decree, or separation agreement if you have one 
  • Records of any child support received in the past 

You play a big role in getting the child support your children deserve.

Arkansas is not my state of legal residence. Where should I apply? 
While you may apply for child support services in any state, we recommend that you apply for child support services in the state where you legally reside.

I live in another state. Can I get help from OCSE in Arkansas? 
If you already have a child support case open in the state in which you reside, you should contact the child support agency in that state to learn if it has requested assistance from the state of Arkansas. If you do not have an active child support case, you may wish to apply for services in the state in which you reside. While you can apply directly with Arkansas OCSE, you should be aware that you might be required to travel to Arkansas to attend court hearings. Individuals receiving cash public assistance or Medicaid benefits from another state may not apply for OCSE services in Arkansas.

I used to have a case with OCSE and closed it. What do I need to do to re-open it? 
You will need to complete and return an application for services, along with the required $25 fee.

I have a case with another state, but I am moving to Arkansas. What should I do? 
You should notify the other state in writing of your new address. If you decide to apply for OCSE services once you are in Arkansas, you will need to complete an application for services and include the information about your case in the other state. Arkansas' OCSE will then notify that state you have applied here for services.

The other parent lives in another state. Where do I turn for help? 
While you may apply directly with that state, we recommend you apply for services in your state of legal residence. Child support agencies in all states cooperate to collect child support.

What services are provided? 
OCSE may be able to help you with the following: 

  • Establish who the father of a child is 
  • Locating the noncustodial parent 
  • Getting a child support order established or changing an existing support order 
  • Getting medical insurance coverage for a child 
  • Determining the amount of past due child support 
  • Collecting child support payments 
  • Collecting spousal support payments when spousal support is part of a child support order 

What services are NOT provided? 

Legal advice - OCSE attorneys may work on a case and represent the case in court; however, OCSE does not represent the custodial or the noncustodial parent individually in the case. OCSE represents the interest of the State of Arkansas in seeing that children are financially provided for. OCSE will manage a case assigned to them based on federal and state laws and regulations, and OCSE policy. 

Spousal support - Spousal support is not enforced unless it was part of the original child support order and child support is currently being collected.

Visitation and legal custody - OCSE cannot advise or help with visitation or custody matters.

I am trying to find someone. Can OCSE help me with locating a missing person? 

OCSE can only provide locate services for cases it manages or under certain special circumstances.

Do you have an attorney I can talk to about a question I have related to child support? 

No. OCSE attorneys act on the behalf of the State of Arkansas. They do not represent the custodial or noncustodial parent or provide individuals with legal advice. Nor can any OCSE representative provide legal advice to customers. If you have questions regarding your child support case, please contact the appropriate OCSE office. Representatives will be able to answer or research your concerns and provide you with an answer. Should OCSE determine a child support case requires legal action, your case may be prepared for a court hearing and referred to the Arkansas judicial system. In a case OCSE refers to court, our attorneys will represent OCSE. If you want legal advice, you should consult a private attorney.

If a judge makes a decision I disagree with, what can I do? 

You may wish to obtain legal counsel. If the decision (or order) can be appealed, you must appeal to the appropriate court within the specified time period. OCSE has no authority over a judge's decision.

Can OCSE collect alimony or spousal support? 

In cases where there is both a child support order and a provision for spousal support, often called alimony, OCSE will collect and enforce both types of support obligations. OCSE cannot collect and enforce spousal support alone. OCSE cannot assist you to establish orders for alimony or spousal support.

Once I apply for services, how long does it take before action will be taken on my case? 

The amount of time it takes to set up a case varies depending on the information OCSE is provided in the application. It can take up to four weeks to begin action on a case if important information was not provided or is unknown.

How much child support will be ordered? 

The amount of child support will be based on the Arkansas Supreme Court guidelines and the noncustodial parent's ability to pay according to these guidelines. See Arkansas Judiciary Child Support Guidelines.

How does OCSE collect a noncustodial parent's support payments when he or she is not employed? 

Depending on the circumstances of the case, OCSE may try to collect support from a non-wage earning noncustodial parent in a number of ways, including the following: 

  • Suspending driver's, recreational, and occupational licenses, 
  • Attaching bank or retirement accounts, 
  • Filing liens on real and personal property, 
  • Asking the court to find the noncustodial parent in contempt of court. 

How does contempt work? 

A noncustodial parent is in contempt of court if the noncustodial parent is not paying support as ordered. However, when the noncustodial parent has a valid reason for not being able to pay support, such as for illness or involuntary unemployment, many courts will not hold the noncustodial parent in contempt of court. When the noncustodial parent clearly has the means to pay support and refuses to do so, a contempt action may be appropriate. Because OCSE attaches wages in all delinquency cases, contempt actions are usually limited to those who are self-employed, unemployed, or employed "under the table." For OCSE to refer a case for a contempt action in circuit court, Arkansas must have jurisdiction over the order. If another state is enforcing your child support order, OCSE may ask the other state for contempt action. The other state determines if the action is appropriate.

How long will it take to receive support payments? 

Each case is different. The time required depends on several factors, such as the difficulty of locating the noncustodial parent, whether paternity must be established, if an order for support already exists, if the noncustodial parent lives in another state, or whether the noncustodial parent is employed. It often takes several months to begin receiving support, especially if the noncustodial parent lives out of state.

Can a custodial parent apply for help to collect child support services if the other parent was making payments voluntarily but later stopped sending any money? 

Yes. In order to receive enforcement services from OCSE, you must complete an application for services and an affidavit listing all of the payments received. The agency also will need a copy of the divorce decree or separation agreement, the current child support order and any previous orders and other documents issued by the court.

How can OCSE enforce support if the noncustodial parent lives out of state or in another country? 

If the noncustodial parent lives in another state or U.S. territory, OCSE can ask the other jurisdiction to establish or enforce a support order. Once the case is sent to another jurisdiction, the other jurisdiction has control over most of the actions taken on the case. If the noncustodial parent lives in a foreign country, OCSE may have an agreement with the country to enforce a child support order. Contact OCSE to find out if the country where the noncustodial parent lives has reciprocity with Arkansas.

What if I have a complaint against someone who works for OCSE? 

Parties in child support cases are entitled to fair, professional, courteous, and accurate service from offices of the Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement. If you have a complaint that you have not received this level of service from an Arkansas OCSE office, please contact a supervisor in that office. If talking to a supervisor does not succeed in resolving the issue, you may with to file a complaint. You may use the Admin Review Request form, or you may call OCSE Customer Service at 501-371-5349 or 877-731-3071.

How do I contact my someone about my case? 

Contact the OCSE office handling your case.  You will be connected with the person who can help you.  If you do not know which office is responsible for your case, you can contact OCSE Central Office for that information at 501-371-5349 or 877-731-3071.  If you already have a case open with OCSE, you can also contact your caseworker through OCSE MyCase.  To register to use MyCase, go to www.childsupport.arkansas.gov.

Why is it so hard to reach my child support office by phone sometimes? 

Caseworkers and customer service representatives are constantly answering telephone inquiries, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST. Due to the high number of inquiries, you may have to wait to speak with someone or try your call again. Generally, our highest call volumes are Monday and Tuesday, so you may want to try your call later in the week if possible.

Custodial parents can obtain information about payments toll free from our automated voice response service: 800-264-2445. Mailing addresses and email addresses for local child support offices where your case is managed are also available.

What do I do if I think my case is not being handled properly? 

OCSE wants to resolve customer issues at the first possible level. If you contest an OCSE action, you can take the following actions: 

  • Contact the OCSE caseworker assigned to the case and explain your concern. If the caseworker cannot resolve your issue, ask the caseworker what your options are. 
  • If the matter is still unresolved, ask to talk to your caseworker's supervisor. 
  • When the supervisor cannot resolve the matter, you should talk to the Office Manager of the office working your case. 
  • If your issue cannot be resolved at the local office level, contact our Central Office Customer Service by email or by phone at 501-371-5349 or 877-731-3071. 

Do I need to tell OCSE when I move? 

Yes! Custodial and noncustodial parents are required to notify OCSE promptly, and in writing, of any change in address, even if you are receiving your payments by direct deposit. Failure to notify OCSE of a change of address when you move will likely result in delays in receiving payments, refunds, and important case information.

How do I close my case with OCSE? 

Send a signed letter requesting that your case be closed to the local child support office that manages your case. Please include your OCSE case number whenever you contact us.

Who do I contact if I don't find the answer to my general question? 

Please call a local OCSE office nearest you, email OCSE Customer Service, or call OCSE Customer Service at 501-371-5349 or 877-731-3071.