Ohio Child Support Collections and Fees
The Ohio Office of Child Support requires that employers report, in advance, any payments owed to the noncustodial parent. This includes lump-sum payments, which are subject to child support garnishment in the same way as periodic income payments. The employer must report these payments even on termination of the employee. Failure to do so will subject the employer to heavy liabilities. The following information expands on these laws of Ohio wage garnishment.
Income Subject to Withholding for Child Support Garnishment
As with every other state, the noncustodial parent must consider almost every source of income as being subject to child support withholding. "Income" in Ohio is defined as any form of monetary payment, no matter the denomination. This includes (but is not limited to): personal earnings, workers' compensation income, unemployment insurance income, pensions, annuities, allowances, public or private retirement benefits, disability or sick pay, insurance proceeds, lottery winnings, any form of trust fund or endowment, or any lump-sum payments.
Bonuses and Other Lump Sum Payments
As noted above, lump-sum payments are considered income in Ohio, and are subject to withholding for support orders. An Ohio lump-sum payment is defined as income other than personal earnings that the obligor is receiving, or is owed, as a benefit of employment or as a result of termination of employment. This includes any vacation pay, even if it is advanced to the employee. Before the employer makes the lump-sum payment to the employee subject to the support order, they must report the payment to the agency that issued the support order. This must be done at least forty-five days before payment is made. If a lump-sum payment is not anticipated this far in advance, the employer must notify the agency as soon as they know, and must wait up to thirty days for a response before paying the lump sum to the employee. The employer must withhold any amount the child support agency orders them to withhold out of the lump-sum payment for purposes of enforcing the support order.
When reporting a lump-sum payment, the employer should first contact the applicable county child support office. If unable to contact the personnel at the county child support office, the employer should then contact the state child support office. Bear in mind that there has been a history of communication problems between state and county offices, so if the employer is only able to report the lump-sum payment to the state, they should follow up to make sure that the local office is also eventually notified.
Termination of Employment
The employer must notify the agency about any change in the employee's situation that results in there not being enough income to meet the support order payment. This includes termination of employment or workers' compensation benefits, being laid off, an unpaid leave of absence, or the expiration of any pension, annuity, allowance, or retirement benefits. Further, if the employee terminates work with the employer, the employer must notify the agency of any type of benefit – severance, sick pay, vacation pay, insurance proceeds, profit sharing, or any lump-sum payment – that the employee is receiving or eligible to receive upon termination. The employer should notify the agency within ten days of any of the above mentioned changes in the employee's position. They should include with such notification the employee's address and telephone number, date of birth, Social Security number, case number, and the new employer's name and address, if known.
In Ohio, an employer is allowed to deduct for costs associated with enforcing the support order. They may deduct the greater of either $2 for wages and $5 for financial institution withholdings, or 1% of the total amount withheld. This fee must be deducted from the employee's wages and not the support payment. It is important to remember that the total amount deducted from the employee's wages can never exceed the withholding limits.
Penalty for Noncompliance
An employer who refuses or fails to enforce a support order they have been served with is liable for any amount not properly withheld from their employee's income.
Ohio State Office of Child Support – Contact Information
Department of Human Services
Office of Child Support
30 E. Broad Street, 31st Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43266-0423
Phone: (614) 752-6561
Fax: (614) 752-9760