THE OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT
The Vermont Office of Child Support (OCS) is a state agency that is part of the Department of Children and Families. You can visit the website for the Office of Child Support here. There are several ways the Office of Child Support is involved in Family Court cases:
It helps decide that someone is a child's parent ("parentage")
It helps the court set an amount of child support
It helps modify an existing Child Support Order
It helps collect and pay child support once there is an order
It helps find missing parents (especially if they aren't paying support)
The Office of Child Support in Court
You will most likely see someone from OCS in the family court. Usually, the OCS representative is not a lawyer, but sometimes they are. Either way, they can help you understand the Child Support Guidelines, agree on a child support amount and write an agreement for the judge or magistrate to sign. If there is a Final Order in place, OCS will describe to the judge or magistrate whether there are overdue amounts, and what OCS has done to collect child support payments.
How to Get Help From the Vermont Office of Child Support
Having trouble collecting child support?
If you’re divorced and the other parent owes you child support (or you think they might), you can get free help from the Vermont Office of Child Support. Additionally, if you need help establishing that the other person is a parent of your children (and therefore should be paying support to you!), the OCS has lawyers and paralegals who will help you for free.
Keep in mind that the Office of Child Support can be incredibly helpful, but OCS does not represent you, exactly. OCS will also not help with any of the financial aspects of your divorce other than child support (if you’re married). That’s because their goal is to represent the best interest of the State — not the specific interests of you or your partner or ex.
At the end of the day, the OCS wants to make sure that children in Vermont receive financial support from their parents. The State of Vermont wants any parents who have the means to do so to take care of supporting their children. It's in the state's interest for the support to come from parents, rather than from state assistance. Because of this, the OCS is willing to help parents get the child support they are owed and they will go to bat for you on issues of parentage and child support.
How to Get Help from the Vermont Office of Child Support
If you need help from the OCS, the first step is to fill out the application. It’s available at the OCS services website or you can download it here.
Keep in mind that you need to fill out an application for each child you are seeking child support for. After you submit this application, you should hear from OCS directly; if you don’t, you might see an OCS representative at your next court date. If that’s the case, try to speak with the OCS person before your hearing. Often, OCS will have a conference room in the hallway near the courtroom, and speaking with them can be helpful. Give the representative a copy of your financial documents and ask whether they have your financial affidavits and the affidavits of the other parent.