Modifying Child Support in Hawaii Via CSEA

Modifying Child Support in Hawaii Via CSEA

Dirty little secret of family lawyers: people looking to modify their child support don’t have to go through us — your local child support enforcement agency (CSEA) will handle administrative modifications of your child support, on request.  On a request by either party (the payor/”Responsible Parent” or the payee/”Custodial Parent”) to modify child support, CSEA’s Administrative Processing Branch (“APB”) will send out income verification forms to both sides, requesting information on their individual incomes.

Once CSEA has gathered some info and run the State’s Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, APB will issue a proposed administrative order to both, setting forth a new child support amount.  Attached with the proposed administrative order is a request for hearing form, by which either side may object to the proposed order and request an administrative hearing — but there is a deadline for such a request, specified in the packet, currently 10 days.  If no request for hearing is received by CSEA, they will simply have it signed by an administrative hearings officer, and file it in Family Court.  This filed order will have the same force and effect as a Judge-signed Court order.  (whew, that’s a long explanation)

Backing up, let’s look at some key issues in the above process:

  • the proposed administrative order is just that — proposed.  That is, CSEA has filled in the Order and the Worksheet with what information it has on hand — if the information is lacking or incorrect, the calculation may very well be wrong.  It puts the burden on the parties to object if the proposal is wrong.
  • an objecting party has only ten days to object to the order.  The ten days is calculated from the date of service/receipt.  Almost always CSEA will serve these documents on both sides by U.S. Certified Mail, and thus the clock starts running from the date that someone signed for the certified mail.

If a party does object (within the time limit), CSEA and the Office of Child Support Hearings (OCSH) will set a hearing date/time, typically 1-2 months after receipt of the request for hearing.  These hearings are held at the CSEA offices in Kapolei, in teeny-weeny hearings rooms, presided over by administrative hearings officers.  Administrative hearings officers, from OCSH are like CSEA personnel, employed by the Attorney General’s office — but they are a separate entity from CSEA.  Although the scope of the hearings is limited to child support and medical/dental insurance for the children, these hearings should not be taken lightly.  Any rulings on child support and/or medical/dental insurance are binding orders filed with the Court, and fully enforceable.  Further, although appeals of OCSH orders can be made to the Family Court, such appeals are difficult, costly, and rarely successful.

If you would like to talk with us about your child support matter, e-mail us or give us a call at (808) 593-2199, and we’d happy to speak with you!


About Gavin K. Doi

Gavin, a founding partner of Doi/Luke, was born and reared in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, graduating from McKinley High School, and receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in Denver, Colorado. Previously, Gavin worked with the Child Support Enforcement Agency and the AmeriCorps Domestic Violence Clinic. An advocate of pro bono legal work, Gavin volunteers time with Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and the Hawai’i State Bar Association. In 2013, Gavin co-authored the book Child Custody Litigation and Settlements (Aspatore Books/Thomson West), penning the section "Working with Your Client Towards a Successful Child Custody Case." Gavin is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association and the HSBA Family Law Section, and was presented with the 2002 Justice Award by the Hawaii State Bar Association, which honors one lawyer annually for their outstanding contribution to the ideals of justice. The Hawaii Access to Justice Commission honored Gavin in 2012 for his pro bono service to the community. Gavin has extensive experience in divorce, paternity, child custody, child support, restraining orders, and other family law matters, and has a Distinguished rating with Martindale-Hubble®/, and an Avvo rating of 10 out of 10. He can be e-mailed at: .

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