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OCSE beefs up child support collection procedures

The vast majority of child support payments in the United States are processed via payroll deductions. Pennsylvania parents receiving child support in this manner will be pleased to learn the federal agency in charge of regulating the process has announced improvements that should increase compliance and shorten the timeline for initial payment processing.

The Office for Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is a federal agency that works in concert with state agencies and employers to deduct child support payments from paychecks. Historically, employers have been allowed to outsource employment verification to third-party agencies in charge of their payroll or human resources. This has led to delays and finger pointing when verification paperwork is ignored or not timely submitted. A clarification of existing rules has made clear that the employer has a singular obligation that may not be delegated to third parties.

New hire reporting procedures are also being clarified by the OCSE. Employers are required to report new hires within 20 days of employment, but when companies have multiple divisions and employer identification numbers (EINs) there has been confusion when employees owing child support are not specifically tethered to a single EIN for both verification and payroll processing. This has allowed some obligors to slip through the cracks and this has been corrected with new protocols. Other policy changes include requiring employers with multiple locations to clarify in verification paperwork the exact location of particular employees. This change will allow agencies to require deductions up to the maximum amounts allowed by state laws, which differ from state to state.

Child support assessments are an important part of divorce and custody litigation but the obligation can change with the obligor's income. Periodic reassessment of the obligation is wise for anyone involved in the process. Consulting a qualified family law attorney may be able to provide insight to applicable laws and procedures for anyone who pays or receives support payments.

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