The Administrative Process
If you pay child support or receive child support, you may ask that the amount be reviewed and adjusted. Generally you must wait 36 months since the support order was established or was last reviewed before requesting review.
If you start this “administrative adjustment and review process,” the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) or Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) (these are the same agency, just different names in different counties), is required to consider your case. The agency recommends upward or downward adjustment to the court. However, the amount could stay the same, if neither parent’s financial or household situation has changed.
If you want your child support order adjusted, contact the child support worker assigned to your case at the agency in the county where the order was issued and request an administrative modification or review. See contact info below.
When the agency receives your request, first the caseworker will determine if your case is eligible for an administrative review and adjustment. Second, the agency will tell you if your request was approved or denied. Sometimes the caseworker will ask you for more information. You must provide documents or other verification requested from you, otherwise your request will be denied. If the agency decides your child support should be modified, it will file an order with the appropriate Court.
The Court Process
You can ask that your child support order be reviewed sooner than 36 months under certain circumstances. You will have to apply to the court for such review. Common reasons for requesting a review include:
- Either party has become employed or is earning more money
- Loss of employment for at least 30 days in a row
- Verified disability of either party
- Institutionalization or incarceration of either party (unless the crime was for child abuse or child neglect, or domestic violence against the child or other party to the support order)
- 30% change in gross income of either party for a period of six months
- One or more children emancipated
- To access availability of health insurance
- The reasons that supported an increase or reduction in the previous child support order have changed or no longer apply
- The obligor (person required to pay support) is departing for active armed service duty or is coming home from service in the armed forces
The document you will have to file with the court when requesting a modification of your child support order is called a “motion to modify.” Some courts have their own forms available on their websites. You may visit the Ohio Supreme Court website at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov for standardized forms. An affidavit is also required and must be signed in front of a notary; do not sign it until you are before a notary public.
Once the documents have been completed, signed and notarized, they must be filed with the Clerk of Court of the court that issued or enforced the support order (Domestic Relations or Juvenile). You should bring multiple copies of the documents with you, as the clerk will need copies to serve on the other party and to the CSEA or OCSS.
A filing fee is charged by the court. If you are eligible, you may want to file a poverty affidavit so that you won’t have to pay the filing fee up front. The court will determine who should pay the filing fee at the conclusion of the case.
You will also want to retain a date and time-stamped copy of the documents for your records. The originals will remain with the clerk. The clerk may provide you with additional instructions about filing and obtaining a hearing date. Be sure to follow the clerk’s instructions.
After your documents have been filed, the case is assigned to a judge or magistrate. Then, you will be notified about a hearing. You must attend all scheduled court proceedings and keep the court informed of your current address and telephone number. Otherwise, your motion will be
Keep in mind that the agency will continue to enforce the previous child support order until a decision is made on your motion to modify child support.
If you have questions about this process or need help with your forms, you may attend a free Brief Advice Clinic to talk to an attorney. The schedule and location for the Brief Advice Clinics can be found here.
Ashtabula County Child Support Enforcement Agency
2924 Donahoe Drive
Ashtabula, Ohio 44004
Cuyahoga Job and Family Services
Office of Child Support Services
1640 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Department of Job and Family Services
Geauga County Child Support Enforcement Division
12480 Ravenwood Drive
P.O. Box 309
Chardon, Ohio 44024
The Lake County Department of Job and Family Services
Child Support Enforcement Agency
177 Main Street
Painesville, Ohio 44077
440.918.4000, Option #5
Lorain County Job and Family Services
Child Support Enforcement Agency
42485 N. Ridge Road
P.O. Box 4004
Elyria, Ohio 44036
This article was written by Tracy Ferron and appeared in The Alert: Volume 34, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!