Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT HEARINGS (OCSH)


QUESTIONS ABOUT OCSH HEARINGS

What’s Happening With My Hearing?

Pre-Hearing Communications with OCSH

Directions to OCSH Kapolei (view map)


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WHAT HAPPENS AT THE HEARING

Arrears and Enforcement


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ANSWERS TO FAQ’S ABOUT THE OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT HEARINGS (OCSH)

Why does our State have an Office of Child Support Hearings? 

Hawaiʻi is one of many states that established an expedited administrative process for child support cases apart from its existing court system in response to federal mandates. The OCSH was created in 1988 to expedite the resolution of child support cases in Hawaiʻi. The OCSH helps our court system by processing thousands of child support cases that would otherwise have to be processed through the Family Court.

How does the OCSH differ from the Child Support Enforcement Agency?

The Office of Child Support Hearings (OCSH) and the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) are separate divisions within the Department of the Attorney General because they have different jobs to do. They maintain separate offices with separate employees, addresses, telephone, and fax numbers.
The OCSH issues child support orders and the CSEA enforces child support orders. The CSEA performs the enforcement, collection, and disbursement functions relating to child support. The CSEA is similar to a prosecutor’s office while the OCSH performs the adjudicative functions relating to child support. The OCSH issues orders establishing, modifying, suspending, terminating and enforcing child support obligations and provides a fair hearing for child support disputes. The OCSH is similar to Family Court, although its hearings officers are not judges, and they only decide child support matters. Hearings officers are employees of the Department of the Attorney General, not the CSEA. CSEA employees represent the State of Hawaiʻi in child support proceedings and do not represent the interests of either parent.

OCSH can assist parties with hearing-related matters. It has no ability to give parties information about their child support case or transmit information from parties to the CSEA.  For non-hearing child support issues, the parties must contact the CSEA.

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How does the OCSH differ from the Family Courts?

The OCSH and the Family Court adjudicate child support matters. OCSH applies the same child support guidelines adopted by Family Court and its child support orders have the same force and effect as Family Court orders. But it differs from the Family Courts in the following ways:

  • OCSH falls within the Executive, or Administrative, branch of state government, while Family Court falls within the Judicial branch of state government. It’s authority is strictly defined by statute. Hence, the OCSH process is called “administrative” rather than judicial.
  • The jurisdiction of OCSH is limited to child support, while Family Court exercises jurisdiction over a broad range of  family issues.
  • OCSH receives only cases processed through the CSEA, while Family Court receives its cases when a party files a motion or action in Family Court.
  • OCSH does not apply rules of evidence and procedure as strictly as the Family Courts.
  • Many parties represent themselves in OCSH proceedings.
  • Participation in hearings by telephone is allowed in most cases.
  • OCSH does not charge a fee for its services, while Family Court charges a filing fee for certain proceedings.
  • Hearings officers are not judges, although they perform a similar function in administrative proceedings for child support matters.

What is OCSH’s website address?

http://ag.hawaiʻi.gov/ocsh/

What laws govern the administrative child support process?

Although many laws impact the administrative child support process, including laws pertaining to divorce and various government benefits, the main laws that govern Hawaiʻi administrative child support hearings are Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, Chapter 576D, Child Support Enforcement, and Chapter 576E, Administrative Process for Child Support Enforcement. The Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes are available on-line, see Chapter 576E  and Chapter 576D.  In addition, Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 5, Chapters 31 and 34 guide the administrative child support process. These rules are available for viewing by clicking on the following links:  HAR Chapter 5-31 (CSEA rules) and HAR Chapter 5-34 (OCSH rules).


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ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT OCSH HEARINGS

What’s Happening With My Hearing?

I requested a hearing a long time ago.  Why hasn’t a hearing been scheduled?

The most common reason for a delay between the time a hearing is requested and when it is scheduled is the lack of service of the proposed order on one of the parents.  Both parents must be served with the proposed order before a hearing can be scheduled. If both parents have been served with the proposed order, the CSEA computer system (KEIKI) schedules most hearings five to six weeks from the date a CSEA worker enters the request for hearing into the computer.  When a hearing has been scheduled, KEIKI generates the Notice of Hearing, which is sent to the parties.

If you requested a hearing and have not yet received a Notice of Hearing and want to ask about the status of your hearing request, you must contact the CSEA, not OCSH. The OCSH has no information about your case until a Notice of Hearing has been generated by the CSEA.

I never requested a hearing. Why is a hearing scheduled?

A hearing is scheduled when one party makes a request for a hearing in response to a proposed child support order or action by the CSEA. If you didn’t request the hearing, the other parent or the CSEA may have.  The custodial or responsible parent or the CSEA may request a hearing.

Neither parent requested child support services. Why is CSEA initiating a child support case?
This situation usually occurs when a child starts receiving public assistance or foster care payments. Any payment of public assistance money for the benefit of a child may constitute a debt due and owing to the Department of Human Services by the parents who are responsible for the support of the child. HRS § 346-37.1. The CSEA is mandated by federal law to pursue the responsible parent for child support to recoup the assistance monies paid by the State on behalf of the child.  The CSEA may also initiate an action when a child receives medicaid benefits.  The CSEA may also initiate modification proceedings on public assistance cases.

What is my hearing about?
The issues at your hearing will be related to a recent  proposed order or notice of enforcement action you previously received from CSEA. The proposed order will involve either the establishment, modification, termination, or enforcement of child support.


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Pre-Hearing Communications With OCSH

When is it appropriate for a party to communicate with the OCSH before the hearing? It is appropriate for a party to communicate with the OCSH prior to the hearing in order to make a procedural request. Procedural requests concerning the hearing such as requests to continue or appear by phone should be made in writing pursuant to the instructions on the information sheet transmitted with each hearing notice. Parties should avoid discussing the merits of any pending case with the hearing officer outside of the presence of the other parties. This kind of contact is a form of ex parte communication prohibited by the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (HRS) and Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules. See, HRS § 91-13 and Hawaiʻi Admin. Rules § 5-34-12. OCSH hearing officers and staff are also not able to give you legal advice concerning your hearing. In addition, OCSH may not discuss a hearing with anyone but the parties themselves unless it has received a written document signed by the party authorizing another person to represent the party for the hearing.

How may I send documents to OCSH?
The address for OCSH is 601 Kamokila Blvd., Room 436, Kapolei, HI  96707. The fax number for OCSH is (808) 692-7114. Do not send faxes intended for the CSEA to the OCSH fax number. Your name, case number, and hearing date should be on all documents sent to OCSH.

 

Assume that copies of any and all documents you submit to the OCSH and the CSEA for the hearing may be used as exhibits and copies may be provided to the other party.  Please do your part in safeguarding personal information from unauthorized disclosure by removing all Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, State of Hawaiʻi identification numbers, financial account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, and passwords and access codes that would permit access to an individual’s financial account from any documents submitted to OCSH or CSEA.

Should I send my exhibits for the Hearing to OCSH? Send your hearing exhibits to OCSH.  Also send them to the CSEA, Attn: APB Hearing Coordinator at 601 Kamokila Boulevard, Room 251, Kapolei, HI 96707. You should also send a copy of your exhibits to the other parent or the parent’s attorney, or representative, if their address is available to you.

Assume that copies of any and all documents you submit to the OCSH and the CSEA for the hearing may be used as exhibits and copies may be provided to the other party.  Please do your part in safeguarding personal information from unauthorized disclosure by removing all Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, State of Hawaiʻi identification numbers, financial account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, and passwords and access codes that would permit access to an individual’s financial account from any documents submitted to OCSH or CSEA.

 

May I participate in my hearing by telephone? If so, what do I need to do?

Yes, in most cases. You may use the PDF Request to Appear by Telephone form (pdf) or the Word  Request to Appear by Telephone form (docx).  Use the Request to Appear by Telephone form only if you already have a pending hearing.  Do NOT use the Request to Appear by Telephone form to request a hearing, i.e., do NOT try to use it in place of the CSEA’s “Request for Hearing” form, FOR048. If you try to use the Request to Appear by Telephone form to request a hearing, the CSEA might not be aware that you are requesting a hearing, so a hearing might not be scheduled, and the proposed administrative order may become a final order without a hearing. Send your completed Request to Appear by Telephone to the OCSH by regular mail or by fax (808-692-7114), as far in advance of the hearing as possible.

Include in your request your name, address, all case numbers, the date and time of your hearing, the telephone number where you may be reached at the time of the hearing, and your signature. You will be notified if your request is granted. You must remove all call blocking features from your telephone. We will call you at the number you provide around the time of the hearing, however, be aware that your hearing may be delayed so you should be prepared to wait for at least an hour. If the time for your hearing has passed and you wish to check on the status of your hearing, please call 808-692-7110 from a different telephone number than you provided for your appearance by telephone. (top)

How do I make sure I don’t have call blocking features on my phone?

You may have Anonymous Call Block on your phone. This feature blocks your phone from receiving calls from numbers that do not allow themselves to be identified by Caller ID. If you have Anonymous Call Block on your phone you must disable it in order to participate in a child support hearing by phone. Contact your telephone company if you are unsure whether you have this feature on your phone and for instructions on how to temporarily disable it for the hearing.

What if I need to request a change in the hearing date or time?
Requests to reschedule a hearing are not automatically granted. Send your written request to reschedule the hearing to the OCSH by regular mail or by fax (808- 692-7114) as far in advance of the hearing as possible. State all the reasons for your request and provide alternative dates and times when you will be available for the hearing. Include on your request your name, address, all case numbers, the date and time of your hearing, a telephone number at which you may be reached, and your signature. The Hearings Officer assigned to your hearing may contact the other parent and the CSEA to see if they have any objections to your request. If objections are raised, the Hearings Officer will decide whether or not to grant your request. If time permits, a written order granting or denying your request may be sent to the parties. If you do not receive an order granting your request, assume it was denied. You may use the PDF Request to Reschedule Hearing form (pdf) or the Word Request to Reschedule Hearing (docx) in the Forms folder for your request.

What if the other parent and I have family court proceedings going on at the same time as the OCSH proceeding?
If an issue is pending in a family court proceeding prior to the time the same issue is raised before the OCSH, the administrative proceeding before the OCSH may be dismissed or continued, although either alternative will not happen automatically. If you wish to request the dismissal or continuance of the OCSH proceeding, you should submit your request to the OCSH as soon as possible and send copies of your request to the other parent (if you have the address and are not otherwise prohibited) and the CSEA. The OCSH may contact the other parent and the CSEA to confirm your representations and to see if there are any objections to your request. If no objections are raised, your request may be granted. If objections are raised, the Hearings Officer will decide whether or not to grant your request. If you do not receive an order granting your request, assume it was denied.

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Should I get an attorney to represent me at the hearing?

It is your decision whether to hire an attorney. You have the right to be represented by an attorney, or even by someone who is not an attorney, at your own expense.

I cannot afford an attorney. Will you appoint an attorney to represent me?

The OCSH will not appoint an attorney for you. If you cannot afford an attorney, but feel you still need representation, you may check with an organization like Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi (536-4302) or Volunteer Legal Services Hawaiʻi (528-7046, 1-800-839-5200) to see if those organizations can assist you, or you may ask a friend or relative to represent you.

I cannot speak English. May I have an interpreter appointed for the hearing?

Yes, an interpreter may be appointed. Please use the form available on this website.  Click on the Forms link in the right side column on this page.   Kindly include in your request your name, address, telephone number, all case numbers, the date and time of your hearing, the type of interpreter you need (for example, Vietnamese/English), and your signature. Please send your written request to OCSH by mail or by fax to (808) 692-7114 as far in advance of the hearing as possible and in any event, no later than ten days prior to the hearing.

I have a disability. May I request reasonable accommodations for the hearing?

Yes, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other applicable state and federal laws, we will provide reasonable accommodations.  Please use the form available on this website.  Click on the Forms link in the right side column on this page.   Kindly include in your request your name, address, telephone number, all case numbers, the date and time of your hearing, and the reasonable accommodation you request. Please send your written request to OCSH by mail or by fax to (808) 692-7114 as far in advance of the hearing as possible and in any event, no later than ten days prior to the hearing.

You may also request to participate in the hearing by telephone. See FAQ regarding participating in hearings by telephone.

My hearing is scheduled to take place on a different island from where I live. Can I participate in the hearing without traveling to the place of the hearing?

Yes, you may request to appear by telephone. See, FAQ regarding participating in hearings by telephone.  You may also authorize a representative to represent you at the hearing.

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I live outside of the State of Hawaii. May I participate in the hearing without traveling to Hawaii?
Yes, you may request to appear by telephone. See, FAQ regarding participating in hearings by telephone.  You may also authorize a representative to represent you at the hearing.

There is a restraining or protective order against the other parent. Should I come to the hearing?
A security guard will usually be present at the Kapolei hearing site. However, you should decide whether it is safe for you to attend the hearing in person. You may request to appear by telephone. See, FAQ regarding participating in hearings by telephone. You may also authorize someone to represent you at the hearing. Please mail or fax a copy of your order and your request, if any, to the hearings officer and the CSEA as far in advance of the hearing as possible.

There is a restraining or protective order against me.  May I come to the hearing?
The answer to this question depends on the terms of your order. You may attend if the order allows you to attend court or administrative hearings when the other party is present. Bring a copy of the order to the hearing and inform the receptionist of the order upon your arrival. You should also take precautions to avoid violating the order immediately before and after the hearing. You may also request to appear by telephone (see, FAQ regarding participating in hearings by telephone) or authorize someone to represent you at the hearing.

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Directions (view map)

I am driving from Honolulu to the Kapolei hearing site. How do I get there?

Take H-1 west to the Makakilo/Kapolei exit. Upon exiting H-1 turn left onto Makakilo Drive (after completing this left turn you should be headed downhill toward the ocean) then turn right at the first intersection onto Farrington Highway. Proceed directly through the next 3 traffic lights. The Kakuhihewa Building is a six-story building across Kamokila Boulevard from the Kapolei Theaters and K-Mart. Turn left onto  Uluʻohiʻa Street at the first left turn after the Kapolei Theaters, then turn right into the driveway to the parking lot for Kakuhihewa Building. Public parking is available.  A parking toll machine is located on the first floor of the Kakuhihewa, next to the food vendor. Upon your arrival at the Kakuhihewa Building proceed to the second floor, Room 251, for your hearing. You will be required to pass through a metal detector at the entrance to Room 251.

I am driving from Waianae to the Kapolei hearing site. How do I get there?

Drive east on Farrington Highway toward Honolulu to the Campbell Industrial Park exit. Turn left at the first traffic light and proceed on Kapolei Parkway to Kamokila Boulevard.  Turn left onto Kamokila Boulevard. The Kakuhihewa Building will be on your right. The Kakuhihewa Building is a six-story building across Kamokila Boulevard from K-Mart and the Kapolei Theaters. Turn right onto Uluʻohiʻa Street at the first right turn after K-Mart, then turn right into the driveway to the parking lot for Kakuhihewa Building. Public parking is available.  A parking toll machine is located on the first floor of the Kakuhihewa, next to the food vendor. Upon your arrival at the Kakuhihewa Building proceed to the second floor, Room 251, for your hearing. You will be required to pass through a metal detector at the entrance to Room 251.

Where do I go for neighbor island hearings?

Please check the Notice of Hearing for the location of your hearing. Neighbor island hearings are conducted at CSEA hearing rooms in Lihue (Kauai), Wailuku (Maui), and Hilo (Island of Hawaiʻi).

CSEA Kauai Branch 4180 Rice Street, Suite 104 Lihue

CSEA Maui Branch 35 Lunalilo Street, Suite 201 Wailuku

CSEA Hilo Branch 88 Kanoelehua Avenue, Suite 202 Hilo

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What Happens at the Hearing

What should I do upon my arrival at the place of my hearing?

Inform the receptionist of the hearing for which you are present, show your identification, sign in, and wait for your case to be called. If you must leave the waiting area temporarily while waiting for your case to be called (for example, if you need to use the restroom or feed the parking meter) please inform the receptionist, otherwise your case may be called when you are not present and you may miss your hearing.

May I bring minor children to the hearing?

Your minor children will not be allowed to testify at the hearing, so there is no reason to bring them to the hearing.  Additionally, it may be difficult to conduct a hearing if young children are creating a distraction.  We strongly encourage you to make other arrangements for the care of your children while you attend the hearing.

 

May I mediate with the CSEA and/or the other party prior to the hearing?

Yes, when your case is called the parties will be led into a hearing room. The parties will be given an opportunity to share information with each other and the CSEA representative, mediate, and reach an agreement (settlement) on the issues for the hearing. This is called a pre-hearing conference.  If the parties are able to reach an agreement, the hearings officer will be called to the hearings room. Your agreement will be recorded and ordered if the hearings officer approves your agreement. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement the hearings officer may conduct a contested hearing. (The parties may also ask for a continuance if they are all in agreement to try mediation through the Mediation Center of the Pacific, http://www.mediatehawaii.org/, or other alternative dispute resolution organization.)

What happens during a contested hearing?
Each of the parties will be given an opportunity to present information (evidence) and arguments to a hearings officer. On neighbor islands the hearing officer will usually appear by telephone from Oahu. Each party will present their information. Information is usually presented in two ways: testimony and documents. You will be placed under oath and may testify on your own behalf. You may also bring out testimony from other witnesses by asking them questions. You may also present documents in support of your case. The parties will present their final arguments to the hearings officer after all parties are done presenting information. The hearings officer will weigh the merits of the information and arguments presented by the parties and issue a final order. The order may be issued immediately after the hearing, or the hearing officer may take the matter under advisement and issue the order at a later date, usually within two weeks of the hearing.

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What documents should I bring to the hearing?

You should bring documents that are relevant to the issues for your hearing. If the issue for your hearing is the modification or establishment of child support you may wish to bring documents which are relevant to determining the earning abilities of the parties, the actual incomes of the parties, the cost of child care paid to allow the custodial parent to work, the cost for the child(ren)’s medical and dental insurance premiums over and above single person coverage or for other family members, and whether extraordinary circumstances allow for child support to be ordered in an amount that is different from the amount calculated on the child support guidelines worksheet. These documents may include, but are not limited to, recent pay statements, W-2’s, federal and state income tax returns, canceled checks, contracts, and health insurance statements. If you have not already submitted your documents to the CSEA APB Hearings Coordinator, you should bring the original plus three copies of each document you wish to present at the hearing.

Do I have to go to the hearing?

You have a right to be at your hearing, but are not required to be present unless you are served with a subpoena requiring your attendance. If you attend the hearing you will have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments in your favor. If you do not attend the hearing you will be defaulted and give up your right to present evidence and arguments in your favor.  The hearings officer will issue an administrative order without hearing your side. An order may be entered that is unfavorable to your interests.

What happens after the hearing?
The hearings officer will issue a written administrative order. The CSEA will file the order with the family court. The order will have the same force and effect as a family court order. The CSEA is responsible for mailing copies of the filed order to the parties. Typically, the filed orders are sent to the parties within 3 – 5 weeks. The parties have thirty days after they receive the filed order to file an appeal with the family court if they wish to appeal.

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How do I appeal the hearings officer’s final order?

Consult an attorney or obtain a copy of the pro se appeal packet from the Family Court.

How is child support calculated?

In Hawaiʻi, child support must be calculated by using the Hawaiʻii child support guidelines.

What are the Hawaiʻi child support guidelines?

The Hawaiʻi child support guidelines are the set of rules for the calculation of child support in the State of Hawaii. The guidelines are adopted by the Board of Family Court Judges pursuant to Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 576D. They apply to all child support cases in this state, with exceptions allowed for extraordinary circumstances. You may view and print a copy of the current child support guidelines and the instructions for the guidelines at the website for the Hawaii State Judiciary.

How do I apply the Hawaiʻi child support guidelines worksheet to my situation?

A detailed explanation may be found at the Hawaiʻi State Judiciary’s website, (Hawaiʻii Child Support Guidelines), where you will find the guidelines and the instructions for the guidelines.  Generally, the guidelines formula takes into account the incomes of both parents, as well as costs paid for child care to allow the custodial parent to work (for example, A+) and medical insurance premiums to cover the subject children over and above the cost to cover the parent. The guidelines also allow for the judge or hearings officer to order an amount different from the guidelines calculation because of exceptional circumstances of the parties. Exceptional circumstances may include extraordinary medical or educational needs, physical or emotional disabilities, other child support obligations that render the payer unable to pay the guidelines level of support, a monthly income that results in a computation higher than the reasonable needs of the children, and a total monthly child support obligation greater than 70% of the parent’s net income from the guidelines’ income table. Heavy debts do not ordinarily constitute exceptional circumstances.

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What is included in gross income of the parties under the guidelines?

The guidelines formula starts with the gross incomes of the parties. A detailed explanation of gross income may be found in the instructions for the guidelines at the Hawaiʻi State Judiciary’s website. Hawaiʻi Child Support Guidelines.

Why do we have child support guidelines?

The federal government requires each state to adopt its own guidelines in order to receive federal funds for welfare programs. Every state in the nation has its own child support guidelines. The guidelines speed up the resolution of child support issues and make child support orders more uniform among similar cases. They cut down on the time, energy, and money spent by the parties arguing over the “right” amount of child support. Extensive battles increase the backlog of cases to be heard. The guidelines reduce litigation. They also make child support orders more consistent across a broad range of similar cases because the factors are fixed and only extraordinary circumstances allow a deviation from the guidelines calculation.

What if I lose my job? Will the CSEA automatically lower the amount of child support I am currently ordered to pay?

No. You need to submit a request to the CSEA or file a motion in Family Court to have your current child support order reviewed for possible modification.

Arrears and Enforcement

What if I do not pay the amount ordered?

The CSEA keeps a record of your payments. Any unpaid amount constitutes a judgment under Hawaiʻi law. If you fall behind the CSEA may initiate enforcement actions against you.
Enforcement actions include income withholding, license suspension, federal and state tax refund offset, federal administrative offset, passport denial, financial institution data match, and credit bureau reporting.

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What is an arrearage?

Hawaii law defines “arrearage” as “past due child support under an existing court or administrative order.” See Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes § 576E-1. Arrearage, then, is unpaid child support that should have been paid.

What happens in an arrearage hearing and what should I bring?

An arrearage hearing will be similar to a hearing on modification or establishment of child support, except that the issue that is the subject of the hearing will be the amount of past due child support owed under a child support order. You should bring all documents relevant to the issue of the arrearage for your hearing.  Documents such as all past and current child support orders and records of payment may be relevant. If you did not send your documents to the CSEA (APB Hearings Coordinator) in advance of the hearing, you should bring the original plus three copies of each document you wish to present at the hearing.

What happens at an enforcement hearing and what should I bring?

An enforcement hearing is a hearing to determine whether or not the CSEA may take an enforcement action against a child support obligor. OCSH hearings officers may hold hearings on certain enforcement actions, such as the initiation of wage withholding to collect unpaid and current child support, state tax refund offset, credit bureau reporting, and license suspension.  The CSEA must show in the enforcement hearing that it has met the legal requirements for the proposed enforcement action. You will be given a chance to prove any defenses you claim against the proposed action.  As most enforcement hearings are based on a threshold amount of overdue child support, you should bring all documents relevant to the issue of the arrearage to the hearing. Documents such as all past and current child support orders and records of payment may be relevant. You should bring the original plus three copies of each document you wish to present at the hearing.

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