Enforcing Support Orders

An overwhelming majority of parents pay their child support as required. However, if you are not paying your child support, penalties can be severe.


  • Suspension of driving, hunting, fishing, professional and other license(s)
  • Liens on real estate or personal property
  • Seizure of tax refunds
  • Seizure of bank funds
  • Bad credit rating
  • Passport denial
  • Interception of lottery prizes, lump sum awards, inheritances
  • Legal action

Tax Intercept

If your past-due support is $150 or more, your case will automatically be submitted to the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT). You may also be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Once that happens, your tax refunds will be forwarded to the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) to satisfy past-due support. You will get a notice stating the amount of money that needs to be taken to satisfy your past-due support.

Passport Denial

If your past-due child support is over $2,500, your case will be submitted to the U.S. State Department. They will refuse to issue a passport to you until the CSEA notifies them that the past-due amount has been paid.

Legal Action

If a person repeatedly fails to meet their child support obligation, the case will be taken to court for contempt. People can also be found in contempt for:

  • Failure to obey a subpoena or refusal to answer as a witness
  • Failure to submit themselves or the child for genetic testing
  • Failure to comply with the provisions of a child support order

The standard sentence for a first finding of contempt is 30 days in jail. A substantial payment of support can usually avoid jail time. If someone fails to pay for 26 weeks over a two-year period, he/she can be found guilty of criminal non-support. This felony can result in up to five years in prison, plus fines.

Mistake of Fact

If a person disagrees with the past-due amount stated in a notice from the CSEA, he/she has 14 days to request a Mistake of Fact hearing. A hearing officer will review the pay history and other evidence, and they could then decide to reduce the re-payment amount. If the person paying support still disagrees, they can dispute the issue in Juvenile or Domestic Relations court.

If you agree that you are in default, but feel you can't afford your monthly obligation, you should request a modification (PDF) rather than a Mistake of Fact hearing.

Need Assistance?

If you are having problems paying child support, please contact the CSEA as soon as possible. Our staff can offer solutions based on your situation. This may involve linking you with resources such as legal assistance, our Fatherhood Program or options for managing past-due support.

Criteria for License Suspension

The CSEA can notify the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) or Department of Natural Resources to suspend a license. First, though, the person ordered to pay support must have failed to pay at least 50% of their support obligation for a period of 90 consecutive days.Tax intercept payments do not count toward the 50% requirement.

If the case qualifies, the CSEA will send a notice of its intent to suspend to the person's last known address. If the person fails to respond, the license can be suspended. The actual suspension of an Ohio driver's license is accomplished through an interface with the BMV.

Once the CSEA specialist "keys in" the suspension, the BMV will:

  • Suspend any license currently held
  • Refuse to renew or issue any driver's license
  • Refuse to reinstate any license until notified by the CSEA
  • Refuse to issue or renew a State of Ohio Identification Card

Criteria for Reinstatement

The CSEA can reinstate a license based on several pieces of proof. They include:

  • Evidence that you are no longer in default
  • Evidence of employment or bank account so a withholding order may be issued
  • Evidence that you are unable to work due to circumstances beyond your control
  • Evidence you have complied with a written agreement to complete Seek Work or another Family Support program approved by the CSEA

To complete a driver's license reinstatement, the person must pay a reinstatement fee of $25. It can be mailed:

Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 16520
Columbus, OH 43216-6520)

Or paid in person at a designated BMV site, paid on the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Site, or paid by phone at 866-675-2837.

If you have questions regarding payment of the reinstatement fee, you can contact the BMV at 614-752-7600. Contact the CSEA for more details on reinstatement.

Eliminating Suspension from Your Record

The CSEA may also direct the registrar of motor vehicles to eliminate any reference to a previous license suspension. A person is eligible to have the suspension removed from their record if these two points apply:

  1. CSEA is given a current copy of the Notification/Reinstatement Requirement (OBVM 2006) and the notice does not list any outstanding child support balance
  2. Person also meets one of the following criteria:
    1. Child support order terminated, case paid to a zero balance
    2. Child support obligation has been paid in full for at least 6 months prior to the month in which removal of suspension record is requested
    3. Person provides evidence that a license suspension reference has limited employability and they are now in compliance with their support obligation