Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) issues for unmarried fathers of Summit County, Ohio

[Thursday, 01 July 2010 01:24] [Saturday, 05 January 2013 23:43]

The Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) - Summit County

Quite frankly, something needs to be said about the child support issues in Ohio.  Specifically, the practices within Summit County dictate that a man is not allowed to file a complaint to establish a parent and child relationship without asking CSEA for assistance, as far as child support and health insurance coverage is concerned.  This is not the optimal situation for an unmarried father because the vast majority of the time, he is the person who pays, the obligor.  The condition created with such tactics can be best described as a catch 22, since without the likelihood of inheriting a monthly child support debt, an unmarried man may not actively pursue his lawfully given right to ask for parenting time. 

So, what is to be done about this?  Well, aside from major changes in the law that prohibit this type of behavior, one event which could help is to have a new prosecutor in office.  Of course, I am explicitly talking about Sherri Bevan Walsh.  Summit County, Ohio has been particularly difficult when it comes to child support matters.  In fact, Prosecutor Walsh has traditionally wagered her existence in office through apparent toughness to realize high rates of child support payment collection and arrests for those in arrears.  For too many years, she has ventured on a crusade that generally reports to be in public interest, but unfortunately this meant convicting many local men of felony charges.  Given that such actions greatly reduces the potential sources of income for any man, this does not make good sense as a step towards a solution for timely child support payments.  Instead, it only exacerbates much of the initial problem, which most often is poverty.  This cycle must change soon.

An interesting fact came to the forefront last year that needs to be told.  Anyone who has received a letter to attent an administrative hearing, or may do so sometime in the near future, will want to pay close attention to the rest of this article.  I learned something fascinating that could potentially save you money in the amount of child support you owe, as a result of that hearing.  Obviously, it is something that CSEA knows, but doesn't make readily available.  As you will figure out, they could be forced to collect less from you, meaning those people who have good cause for a deviation from the standard amount of child support obligation. 

If you get a letter from the Child Support Enforcement Agency, telling you to show up for a administrative hearing for the determination of child support and health insurance coverage, and you have an open case in either Juvenile or Domestic court, simply take or make a copy of a motion to request a child support order that has been filed with the court to CSEA no later than 7 days before the support hearing.

If you have such a motion filed with the Summit County Clerk of Courts already, be sure that when you get to the CSEA building, the receptionist knows to give your copy to the prosecutor or hearing officer of your case.  Additionally, they will need to know that you have a hearing coming up shortly.  This will help your notice of the  Domestic Relations of Juvenile Court hearing to be available in advance to do its job.

What can this motion do?

That motion you give CSEA will get to their prosecutor and he or she will know that a determination against you is extremely unlikely.  The prosecutor will give your motion to the hearing officer, if the officer does not get it directly, who will most likely tell you during the administrative hearing that they will not make the determination since you have a motion in front of a court.  You need to understand that the hierarchy of the county system starts with the Domestic Relations or Juvenile Courts on top, with CSEA underneath them.  This even means with child support and health insurance cases.  If CSEA were to make a determination, the court, at its discretion, could completely contradict CSEA at a later point in time.  In the words of the hearing officer I talked to, when I completed these steps, told me the following:

"Well, the court's decision trumps any order I make.... so I'll just hold on to your paperwork until after your hearing in court and wait for their order."

Why is this important?

A basic reason that you want a court ordered determination for child support is that the court, at its own discretion,  may take certain circumstances into consideration when issuing support orders.  The Child Support Enforcement Agency can not, nor will they do this!  The problem is that CSEA can only use the guidelines within the child support worksheet.  As you will see next, an administrative hearing could cost you money.

What this means is:

A man who pays $200 per month under an administrative order from CSEA, could pay less under court ordered support because the court considered the fact that he had unusual expenses that are not covered by the standard worksheet.  Perhaps, another deviation could be awarded because a child spends substantial time with both parents.  Although these situations do not apply in every case, they do happen.  A simple exception, such as any of the few mentioned here, can work out to be $100 to $200 per month, which measures out to a great amount of money over time.  The only way to receive a deviation is in the court of law.   If the opportunity presents itself, this approach could be well worth it in the long run ... so use it!