Receiving Support

How does OCSE process payments? 

OCSE processes approximately 8,000 payments each business day. OCSE receives payments by mail and electronically. OCSE images and records all payments it receives by mail and deposits all payments promptly. Payments are credited by the Payor's name and nine-digit OCSE case number. If the case number has not been provided, a payment may be identified by the Social Security number of the Payor. If a payment is properly identified and there is no incomplete information, then the payment is generally credited to the appropriate account within one business day of OCSE receiving it. If the custodial parent has Direct Deposit, then the payment is usually deposited into their bank account within two business days after receipt.

How long does it take for OCSE to receive a payment? 

When OCSE initiates income withholding, the employer or business receiving the order/notice to withhold wages for the payment of child support must begin withholding no later than the first pay period that occurs after 14 days following the date the notice was mailed. The law requires OCSE to send you support within two business days after receipt and identification of the payment.

Does my case qualify for IRS tax refund offset? 

If the noncustodial parent has an IRS refund due, the IRS will withhold all or part of the refund check to pay a past-due support debt. Only the state where you applied for services can ask the IRS to attach a tax refund check. OCSE uses the following criteria for IRS refund tax offset: 

  • The noncustodial parent's Social Security number is on the case record. 
  • The past-due amount owed to you must be $500 or more. 
  • The amount must have accrued under a valid support order and OCSE must have a copy on file. 
  • The child must live with the custodial parent and be under the age of majority at the time of the offset. 

If the children ever received public assistance, back support may be owed to the state. The amount owed to the state must equal $150 or more and be three months past due to qualify for tax-refund offset. When OCSE receives a tax refund from the IRS, the law requires that it pay off the state debt first.

When will I receive the IRS refund I'm owed? 

The IRS sends payments to OCSE about six to eight weeks after the filing of the tax return. The Department of Treasury has encouraged states to hold collections from joint tax returns for up to six months to allow the spouse of the noncustodial parent opportunity to file a claim for their share of the refund with the IRS. Check with the OCSE office managing your case to determine if the money has been collected and, if so, when you can expect to receive it. Keep in mind that any money owed for cash assistance provided to the family must be repaid first.

Why do I have to let OCSE know when the noncustodial parent gets a new job or moves? Isn't it their job to locate the noncustodial parent? 

The custodial parent should keep OCSE informed of any changes in employment or address for themselves as well as the noncustodial parent. OCSE must rely on data matches to locate the noncustodial parent's address, employer, or assets. Oftentimes, the custodial parent will have information before a data match is received.

My court order states the noncustodial parent is to make payments on the first of the month. Why does OCSE give the noncustodial parent the entire month to pay? 

The majority of child support is paid through wage withholding. The employer is required to withhold child support based on its payroll periods, which may be weekly, biweekly, twice a month, or monthly. The employer should prorate the monthly obligation and withhold an appropriate amount from each paycheck. Payments are to be forwarded by the employer to the AR Child Support Clearinghouse the date the employee is paid.

Why does the amount of the check I receive change? 

There are a number of reasons why payment amounts may vary. If the payments are being deducted from the noncustodial parent's wages, it is possible that his/her work hours vary. If the total support obligation cannot be paid from the noncustodial parent's wages, only a percentage of his/her wages can be deducted from the support owed. The law does not allow a person's entire wages to be withheld for support. 

If a noncustodial parent has more than one support obligation, any payments made by an employer must be pro-rated among all the obligations. 

Payments may also be reduced to pay for fees owed to OCSE by the custodial parent.

When should I expect a payment? 

OCSE cannot guarantee that payments will be received on a consistent basis. If the payments are deducted from the noncustodial parents wages, the employer should remit the payments to OCSE according to the noncustodial parent's pay dates. Most payments received by OCSE come through the mail, and mail times will vary, especially during holiday periods.

A child support payment was credited to my case several days ago and usually I would have it by now, but I haven't received it. What should I do? 

If you have Direct Deposit, you should first check with your bank about the deposit. If the bank does not have a record of the deposit, you will need to contact OCSE so the payment can be researched. 

If you normally receive your checks by mail, time frames for mail delivery vary, and you should allow 14 calendar days after the check was mailed before reporting it as missing. If you have moved, you will need to notify OCSE immediately. Child support checks are not forwarded by the Post Office due to security reasons.

After 14 calendar days, if you still have not received your payment, you should notify OCSE so the check status can be researched. If the check has not been cashed, OCSE will send you an affidavit to complete and return with your notarized signature. After OCSE receives the notarized affidavit, a stop payment will be placed on the lost check and a replacement check will be issued within two days. If the check has been cashed OCSE will send you a forgery package to complete. After OCSE has received the complete forgery package, an investigation by OCSE and the bank must be conducted. If the matter becomes a criminal investigation, it may require several months before a replacement check can be issued. If you have a bank account in your name, you should also consider applying for Direct Deposit to avoid this type of problem.

How can I have my child support payments direct-deposited? 

If you have a bank account in your name, you may complete an application for direct deposit and submit it to OCSE as instructed in the application.

I am going to change banks or bank accounts or I want to stop my Direct Deposit. What should I do? 

You must complete a new application for direct deposit when you change banks or bank accounts. If you want to stop your payment from being direct-deposited, you may also use the same application form to submit your request.

Why did the arrears balance owed to me change when I have not received a payment for the amount of the change? 

There are several reasons why the arrears balance may change without a payment being disbursed. OCSE may make adjustments to accounts based on proof of payments provided by one of the parties. OCSE sometimes learns after the fact that an order has been changed and must make adjustments to the account to reflect the change. OCSE is required to apply federal tax offset collections to the arrears balance upon receipt; however, if the collection results from the filing of a joint return, OCSE will hold the funds for a period of up to six months to allow for other possible claims on the funds before disbursing the collections. If a claim is made against the funds on hold by OCSE during the six-month period, another adjustment to the arrears balance will occur.

Will OCSE keep track of my child support payments to make sure they keep coming? 

While your case remains open for enforcement, OCSE is required to monitor payments to make sure they are made regularly and fully. You should inform OCSE if payments are substantially late, in the wrong amount, or if you receive payments directly from a source other than OCSE. When you monitor your case, you can keep OCSE informed so that it can act quickly if needed.