Not paying your child support can have serious consequences. The section provides information on what to expect and what to do if you think a mistake has been made related to your child support.
What is child support enforcement?
Child support enforcement means taking the necessary actions to collect past due child support and ensure that current and future payments are up-to-date. See below for a more detailed description of the different enforcement actions that can be taken. The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) takes these actions if you have fallen behind in your child support payments by more than two months.
How do you know if an enforcement action is being taken against you?
YOU WILL KNOW beforehand. If an action is taken against you, you will be notified in writing before your case is submitted to any of the child support enforcement programs. This written notification is known as the Pre-Offset Notice
, and it warns you of the different ways that may be used to collect the past due child support.
How long will it take before the OCSE carries out an enforcement action?
It can take from 60 to 90 days for support enforcement actions to take effect.
What do I do if I receive a Pre-Offset Notice?
DO NOT IGNORE THE NOTICE. No response will result in enforcement as stated in the notice.
Read the notice carefully. The notice will contain the following information:
What kinds of enforcement actions can OCSE take against me?
- Instructions on how to pay what is owed and enter into a payment plan with OCSE.
- File an objection or challenge if the amount owed is incorrect.
There are two major categories of enforcement actions—administrative and judicial.
There are ten types of administrative
actions which do not require court approval
- Income Execution
All child support orders require an employer to deduct child support from your wages if you are employed and your employer receives an Income Execution (IEX) notice.
- Unemployment Insurance Benefits Intercept
The New York State Department of Labor deducts child support from unemployment insurance payments and sends them to the Support Collection Unit. Any case eligible for Income Execution in which the NCP is receiving unemployment insurance benefits is eligible.
- Property Execution
Financial assets, including bank accounts, are seized by the Support Collection Unit.
- Lottery Winnings Intercept
Your lottery winnings can be taken from you if the New York State lottery office has been notified of your child support arrears.
- Driver’s License Suspension
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) removes the suspension when the OTDA notifies the DMV that the payment is resolved. To remove a suspension for the failure to pay child support, you must contact the local child support enforcement agency or the OTDA. The DMV cannot suspend a driver or remove a suspension without notification from the child support enforcement agency or the OTDA.
If not prohibited based on the complete driver record, the driver can be eligible for a restricted license during the suspension. Do not request information from the DMV about whether a specific driver will be eligible for a restricted license. The DMV informs the driver about eligibility when the notice of suspension is issued.
The DMV notifies you by mail if you qualify for a conditional license or restricted use license. Your license revocation or suspension notice, or a letter mailed with the notice, tells you if you qualify or not. If you qualify, DMV includes instructions about how to apply for a conditional license or restricted use license.
- Income Tax Refund Intercept
States are required to submit cases for federal tax offset that meet certain criteria. To read more about the actual criteria, click HERE .
- Passport Denial Program
Only the state that submitted the case for Passport Denial can authorize release of your passport. Many states require that the obligor pay the arrearage amount down to zero before releasing them from the Passport Denial Program.
If you have a verified life or death situation, the State can request that OCSE speed up the process for your passport to be released. This criterion does not include an individual that owed past due child support at the time of submittal to the program who has since made a payment, nor does it include state error. The state must fax a Notice of Withdrawal of Passport Denial letter to the OCSE Federal Collections Unit. The withdrawal letter must be on official letterhead and signed by an authorized individual at the state.
- Arrears Reported to Credit Bureaus
If child support arrears are reported to these bureaus, a non-custodial parent’s credit rating can be affected.
- Suspension or denial of New York City business and professional licenses
- Arrears Reported to Department of Taxation and Finance
The second category of enforcement actions are judicial
, which means that you are required to appear in court
. Any of the following three actions can take place:
A. Petition is Filed Against You Claiming that you Violated your Child Support Order
B. Suspension or denial or New York State-issued professional or occupational licenses
C. Criminal Prosecution, which can lead to incarceration
D. Participation in a work program (STEP: Support Through Employment)
What if I do not agree with the notice?
If you feel that the notice was sent in error, there are CHALLENGE FORMS included in the notice. You should fill them out and mail them back within 30 to 45 days of the original notice.
REMEMBER: Make copies of the completed forms for your own records and submit the originals to the Child Support Office.
What else can I do if I want to talk to someone about this matter?
You can also follow up further by taking the steps listed here:
- Call the New York State Child Support Helpline at 1 (888) 208-4485.
- Put your complaint or request for assistance in writing. It is important to document whatever steps you take in trying to resolve any enforcement measures taken against you. Include your name, address, telephone number, and account number. Be sure to make at least one extra copy for your records. All letters can be mailed to:
New York City Child Support Enforcement Unit
PO Box 830, Canal Street Station
New York, NY 10013
- Email your complaints and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org . In order to receive a response to an email, you must submit the following information: your name, address, telephone number, and account number.
- Visit the NYC OCSE Customer Services office IN PERSON. The office is located at:
151 West Broadway, 4th floor (between Worth and Thomas Streets
Walk-in service is available from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday. For a shorter wait time, visit the office Tuesday through Friday between 11 am and 6:30 pm.
The office is also open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturdays, but will only see clients BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. To make an appointment, please 212-274-6482 or 212-274-4920 during the week.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE, try contacting any of the following organizations:
LEGAL INFORMATION for FAMILIES TODAY (LIFT)
LIFT provides legal information and community education concerning issues addressed in Family Court, including child support enforcement measures. LIFT provides legal information that can help answer questions about child support, NOT legal advice. You can visit one of their Family Court-based Education & Information (EI) sites or call LIFT’s bilingual Spanish/English hotline at 212-343-1122.
City Bar Justice Center, 212-382-6600
City Bar Justice Center annually provides direct legal representation, information, and advocacy to 25,000 poor and vulnerable New Yorkers from all five boroughs. The Center has a hotline that offers legal information, advice and referrals to low-income New Yorkers who cannot afford a private attorney or who have no access to legal representation. The Hotline assists callers with a range of civil legal issues, including family law, housing law, bankruptcy and debt collection and benefits. The Legal Hotline is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at (212)626-7383.
LawHelp is an online resource where you can find free legal services in your community, learn about your legal rights, and get information about the courts.