As a Defendant in a child support case, it is important to remember that the OCSE is not the court. Often, the OCSE will require both parties to meet with a representative or an attorney to resolve the child support issues before trial. Although the OCSE is usually located in the courthouse, the OCSE representative is not a judge or a magistrate but the plaintiff’s representative. If you do not agree with the child support calculations that the OCSE representative is providing as the basis for support, you can decline to settle the case. A hearing to determine child support will be held before a judge (or magistrate). There is no penalty or fine for seeking a hearing on child support.
Recently, a young father came to my office after meeting with the OCSE representative. He had not seen his daughter in months despite a shared custody order. His child’s mother had refused to allow him overnight visits despite the shared custody Order. She filed for child support through OCSE claiming that the child now lived with her. The OCSE representative asserted that despite the shared custody order entered by the Court, the child’s mother had actual custody and he owed $1,250 per month according to the state’s support guidelines. To make matters worse, he was told that he owed six months of back support (arrears). According to the OCSE representative, he owed $1,250 per month and was $7,500 in arrears even though he had shared custody of the child.
Despite a great deal of pressure by the OCSE representative, the father refused to accept OCSE’s demand that he pay $1,250 per month (and $7,500 in arrears). He elected to go to a hearing and hired an attorney to defend his rights. In the end, the Family Court Magistrate assessed child support at $68 per month. The Magistrate also found the mother in contempt of court for not obeying the shared custody Order and refused her claim for child support arrears. I guess the lesson is that the OCSE representative is not a judge but represents the petitioner, if you are being charged with child support by the OCSE you should get someone to represent your interests.