Hawaiʻi Administrative Process for Child Support

Application for Services to the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA)

The administrative process begins with an application to the CSEA (the OCSH does not process applications) by a party (the absent or paying parent, usually called the Responsible parent, or the parent or guardian with custody of the child, usually called the Custodial parent) requesting the establishment, modification, termination, or enforcement of a child support order.

The Department of Human Services can also initiate a child support action to pursue child support or medical support from an absent parent when a child is receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), QUEST or foster care benefits.

Proposed Order Sent to Parties

Establishment and Modification of Child Support

After CSEA receives an application for services for establishment or modification of a child support obligation, it sends documents to the parties requesting income and other information relevant to the calculation of a child support obligation. Using the information it receives from the parties and other sources, if available, the CSEA (not the OCSH) generates a proposed order with a child support amount based upon the Hawaiʻi Child Support Guidelines. Please note, the CSEA, not the OCSH, prepares the proposed order. The CSEA then serves the proposed order on the parties along with a Request for Hearing form and other forms.

Enforcement Remedies

Enforcement remedies are initiated when CSEA records show that the responsible parent owes back child support.  In enforcement proceedings, the responsible parent receives a Notice of a proposed enforcement remedy such as State Tax Refund intercept, Credit Bureau Reporting, additional Income Withholding, or License Suspension. Custodial parents are not parties to enforcement proceedings and only the responsible parent is sent the notice of a proposed enforcement action. The responsible parent receives a Request for Hearing form along with the Notice of the proposed enforcement action that he or she can complete and mail to the CSEA to contest the proposed action.

Termination of Child Support

The administrative process to terminate a child support obligation can begin automatically as a child approaches the age of eighteen, through the CSEA computer system, or it can be requested by a party based on the child’s emancipation, death, or lack of attendance at high school or a program of higher education after the child turns 18.  Both parties will receive a notice or proposed administrative order from the CSEA informing them that child support will be terminated. The Request for Hearing form sent with the notice or proposed administrative order terminating child support can be completed by either party and mailed to the CSEA to contest the proposed termination.

Opportunity to Request a Hearing

The CSEA and the parties may request a hearing on the proposed order. If the CSEA does not request a hearing and if neither party requests a hearing by completing and mailing the Request for Hearing form to the CSEA, the CSEA may then sign the proposed order and file it with the family court, making it a final order.  This type of administrative order is called an uncontested order.  (Or, the CSEA may send the proposed order to the OCSH to be signed.  If the CSEA sends the order to the OCSH for signature, an OCSH Hearing Officer reviews the order and signs it as a final order if appropriate.  The review involves making sure the parties were properly noticed and served, and that the proposed order is legally correct.)

If a party does object to the child support order or action proposed by the CSEA, he or she is instructed to complete and mail the Request for Hearing form back to the CSEA within a specified time. Upon its receipt of the Request for Hearing CSEA enters the request into its computer (KEIKI), a hearing date is assigned, and Hearing Notices are mailed to the parties.

The Administrative Hearing

Legal Representation

Parties can represent themselves, hire an attorney to represent them, or have a relative or friend represent them at a hearing. To inquire about low or no cost legal help, you may contact the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi at 536-4302, or Volunteer Legal Services Hawaiʻi at 528-7056. For assistance in selecting an attorney to represent you, the Hawaiʻi Lawyer Referral and Information Service is available at 537-9140.

Pre-Hearing Conference

On the date and time of the hearing the parties have an opportunity to talk to a CSEA representative before the hearing. Often issues can be clarified and even resolved before the hearing. The parties are given an opportunity to share information with each other and the CSEA representative, negotiate, and possibly reach an agreement (settlement) on the hearing issues.  If that happens the Hearing Officer will be called to review the agreement to make sure it is legally correct, put the parties’ agreement on the record and sign an Order that includes the terms of the agreement. If the parties cannot agree a contested case hearing will then be conducted.

Contested Case Hearing

When a contested case hearing is held, each party is placed under oath and given an opportunity to present information (evidence) and testimony to a hearings officer. On neighbor islands, the hearing officer will usually conduct the hearing by telephone from Oahu.

Only the parties and their representatives are allowed to be present in the hearing room.

Each party will present their information or evidence. Evidence is presented in two ways: testimony and documents. Parties can testify on their own behalf or bring witnesses to testify. Parties may also present documents in support of their position. The parties then make their final arguments to the hearings officer.

The hearings officer will weigh the evidence presented by the parties, apply the appropriate laws and the Hawaiʻi Child Support Guidelines , 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.

Appealing an Administrative Order

The administrative order issued after the hearing is a final order with the same force and effect as a Family Court order.  Parties have thirty days after they receive the filed order to file an appeal with the family court in the circuit where the order was filed.

Parties who are not represented by attorneys (pro se parties) may use the Family Court’s CSEA Appeal packet to assist them in preparing their appeal. The packet is available at the Family Court Service Center, phone number: 808-954-8290.  For neighbor islands contact the Family Court on your island.

The court charges a fee to file an appeal. See the current court fee schedule on the State of Hawaiʻi Family Court webpage for more information about the cost of filing an appeal. In addition, the filing party, or appellant, must pay for the cost for transcription of the hearing recording by a court transcriber for the Record on Appeal. Hawaiʻi Family Court Rule 72(h). This cost varies depending on the length of the hearing.

Filing an appeal of an administrative child support order does not stop the order from going into effect. The order remains in effect unless and until it is reversed or remanded by the Family Court.