Ohio Child Support Enforcement

Failure to Pay Child Support

Once a family law judge makes a child support order, it becomes a legal obligation. However, there are times a parent might not be able to pay or simply refuses to pay. Bad idea. If a parent doesn't pay, he or she can be held in contempt and fined or sent to jail. Also, his or her license may be suspended (including any professional licenses). A parent can also have criminal charges brought against them if nonpayment continues for an extended period of time.

Contact CSEA

In Ohio, child support enforcement services are provided by your local Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). Payments are made to families either by direct deposit or the Ohio e-QuickPay Debit MasterCard.

What Can CSEA Do to Help Enforce a Support Order

The CSEA can petition the court to get a parent to pay their child support, including:

  • Withholding income from a parent's wages, Social Security, unemployment, workers' compensation, or veterans disability compensation;
  • Placement of liens on a parent's real or personal property;
  • Garnishment of state and federal tax refunds;
  • Withholding of child support from a paycheck or from unemployment benefits;
  • Garnishment of worker's compensation benefits;
  • Suspension of driving, occupational, sporting and/or recreational licenses (If behind 90 days or more in payments);
  • Credit bureau reports;
  • Bench warrants for arrest;
  • Passport denial
  • Filing of contempt of court actions, which could result in a jail sentence.

Criminal Prosecution

If the court decides the non-custodial parent could pay some or all of the amount owed, the payer can be held in contempt. Penalties for contempt may include any of the enforcement methods listed here (like suspending a driver’s license), plus fines, jail time, and other penalties. Additionally, the non-paying parent can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and face jail or prison time.

Modifying an Order

If a parent is having problems making payments, he or she should contact the court immediately. The parent can always seek to modify their existing support order. This will require going back to court and explaining to the judge why you can’t make your payments. Only a judge can change the amount you owe under a support order.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Ohio's child support enforcement laws.

See also Child Support Enforcement FAQs, How Do I Locate a Parent for Child Support, and Enforcement and Collection of Back Child Support.

Code Section Ohio Revised Code 3121.01 et. seq.
Who is Responsible? Both parents
Agencies Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA)
Remedies Available
  • Withholding income from a parent's wages;
  • Placing liens on a parent's real or personal property;
  • Garnishing state and federal tax refunds;
  • Withhold child support from a paycheck or from unemployment benefits;
  • Garnish worker's compensation benefits;
  • Suspending driving, occupational, sporting and/or recreational licenses;
  • Credit bureau reports;
  • Bench warrants for arrest;
  • Passport Denial or Revocation;
  • File contempt of court actions, which could result in a jail sentence.

Federal Enforcement

If the non-custodial parent moves out of Ohio, the support order can still be enforced in any other U.S. state under the Uniform Federal Family Support Act. If you need help locating the other parent, the federal government has a Federal Parent Locator Service.

Other Resources

Child support enforcement laws are complicated. You may wish to contact a family law attorney in your area.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.