Like most states, Hawaii has laws that prevent any parent from skipping out on court-ordered child support payments as well as a state agency dedicated to enforcing child support payments – the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA).
If one parent is behind in their child support payments, the parent entitled to receive child support can choose to forgo a legal remedy if they come to a mutually agreed-upon arrangement whereby the delinquent parent simply pays up.
A family law attorney can help determine the best remedy, whether for the parent who is owed child support or the parent obligated to pay it. In those cases, the attorney can help negotiate terms to help the noncustodial parent avoid the consequences of formal enforcement measures.
If the parents can’t agree, the Hawaii Child Support Enforcement Agency has several mechanisms it can employ to collect the delinquent funds.
Each CSEA mechanism (except the order for income withholding) usually has a minimum past-due amount that is the trigger of the enforcement mechanism. The parent who is owed past-due child support payments usually needs to make a request for services to be initiated.
Here are the CSEA’s enforcement methods:
Income Withholding: While parties can agree to a direct payment arrangement, if either is concerned about record keeping, the CSEA can receive payment directly from the employer of the noncustodial parent. The CSEA serves the non-custodial parent’s employer an Order or Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support. The employer then begins deducting the child support payments from their employee’s wages or benefits and forwards the amount to the CSEA.
State tax refund setoff: The state tax refund setoff allows CSEA to collect past-due child support payments from the noncustodial parent’s state tax refund.
Administrative offset: Administrative Offset allows CSEA to intercept certain federal payments to collect past-due child support.
Federal tax Refund offset: If past-due child support payments meet certain criteria, the federal tax refunds of the non-custodial parent can be intercepted and sent to the CSEA.
Passport denial: For child support debts greater than $2,500, the State Department can revoke a current passport, deny a future passport, or restrict or limit a current passport.
Financial Institution data match: This program uses information gathered through an agreement between the state and all of the financial institutions conducting business within it to identify accounts belonging to parents who have past due child support payments. The CSEA may then issue liens on the delinquent parent’s accounts.
Credit bureau reporting: CSEA can report information regarding delinquent accounts to any consumer reporting agency.
Liens: The Bureau of Conveyances can issue a lien against real property for a parent who has past-due child support payments or when an order of support for a prior period (arrears order) is established.
License suspension: A noncustodial parent who is delinquent in payment in an amount equal to or greater than three months of child support payments can have his or her driver’s license and/or recreational license(s) suspended. If the parent is delinquent in payment in an amount equal to or greater than six months of payments, his/her professional and/or vocational license can be suspended.
Medical Support Enforcement: CSEA pursues private health care coverage when it is available through a non-custodial parent’s employer at a reasonable cost.
Whether you owe child support or are owed past due payments, Seth Harris, a senior associate at the PMK family law division, can help you figure out the best remedy for your specific situation. For more information, go to: www.hawaiilegal.com/practice-areas/family-law-2/.
Partner R. Laree McGuire was a featured panelist at the July 15th Hawaii Chapter Community Association Institute (CAI) 2021 Legislative Update Webinar. McGuire addressed the content of 11 new laws that were passed by the 2021 Legislative Session and their impact on associations and boards.
PMK sponsored the HUGS Mom’s Night Out on July 7th. The moms were excited to be treated to an evening at the Old Spaghetti Factory. After not being able to gather in person for over a year, they enjoyed being together to support each other and shared lots of laughter. PMK is a proud supporter of HUGS (Help, Understanding & Group Support), a Hawaii nonprofit organization assisting families with seriously ill children.
Child support can be a particularly hot-button issue for former partners. When to initiate it, how much it should be and when to make changes are all situations that can lead to disagreements.
The state of Hawaii uses a child support guidelines worksheet to determine how much child support a parent should pay. The disbursements can be paid directly to the payee or through Hawaii’s Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). After the court first creates the order, it can take anywhere from six weeks to two months for the CSEA to process the documents, therefore, the court may add a provision for interim payments, such as direct payments pending the start of withholding.
Once CSEA or the Family Court determines a dollar figure, that amount won’t change unless both parties agree or if a court order requires it. Here are some circumstances that merit a review and possible adjustments to child support:
- Gross income changes due to job change or loss
- A significant change in health insurance costs
- Different custody arrangements
- A significant change to a child’s educational expenses
- Every four years when the family court reviews and modifies the state’s child support guidelines worksheet
Seth Harris, a senior associate with the PMK Family Law Division, is available to serve as a dedicated, compassionate advocate for all of your child support needs. For more information, go to: www.hawaiilegal.com/practice-areas/family-law-2/.
PMK Senior Associate Seth Harris is passionate about family law
Family law attorneys often meet people during very emotional events in their lives, such as divorces or custody disputes. Such situations require steady, compassionate guidance. The opportunity to help clients through these difficult times is exactly what attracted Seth Harris to family law.
“You don’t have to just struggle through this experience and be lost,” said Seth, who joined PMK in 2017. “I feel strongly about helping my clients get through what can be a tough process. That’s a big part of what motivates me and why I continue to do this.”
Seth received his Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University and his law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He has 20 years of experience practicing law, 14 of which are in family law, and built PMK’s family law practice from the ground up.
In his free time, Seth enjoys Kendo (Japanese Fencing) and has earned a 6th degree black belt. He is married with two children, ages one and seven.