This information is to help you if you need to change a Department of Health Human Services (DHHS) Child Support Order. If a Court ordered you to pay child support, this information will not help you. Go here for our guide on How To: Change or Enforce Your Maine Divorce or Parental Rights Order.
When can I ask DHHS for a change?
If your order is at least 3 years old and your financial situation has changed, you can ask for a review of the amount of support even if the change is not very big. If your order is less than 3 years old, you can ask for a review of your order due to "substantial change of circumstances." "Substantial" means that there will be at least a 15% change in the amount you pay. For example, you were earning $20,000 per year two years ago when DHHS gave its first order. Now, you have been laid off and get only $150 per week unemployment insurance, or you have gone back to work at a job that pays only $16,000 per year.
DHHS will only change the amount of support from the date it gets your request for a change. So do not delay. The sooner you send your request, the sooner the new order will take effect.
How do I make the request?
There are a few ways to request a review:
Option 1: Call the Case Review Unit: 1-800-371-7179 (Maine only), or at 207-624-7830
Option 2: Submit the online form or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Option 3: Send a request by mail to:
Case Review Unit, DSER
11 SHS, 109 Capitol Street
Augusta, Maine 04333
What if the earlier DHHS Child Support Order was wrong?
If you think that DHHS's earlier order was wrong, you may also be able to get that order set aside. For example, assume DHHS gave an order six months ago saying that you owe $100 per week. You were unemployed, had no income and could not find work. But you did not go to the earlier hearing because you didn't think it would help. Or you thought the order was wrong but you did not appeal.
If the order is less than one year old, you can send a "Request to Set Aside a DHHS Support Order." If the old order is set aside, you would not have to make these back payments. A new order would set the correct amount owed for that back period.
For any order that is more than one year old, you can get the amount of your child support changed prospectively only. It will not set aside the back amounts you were previously ordered to pay.
What happens after I send the request?
DHHS will send you a notice telling you the date, time and place of the hearing.
To get ready for the hearing: Be ready to explain what has changed since the last hearing to require a change in the support order.
- Your income has gone down.
- The other parent's income has gone up
- The other parent's child care costs have gone down.
- Your health insurance costs have gone up so that you can't afford to pay for it anymore.
- Your child stays with you more days of the week now.
Bring any written proof you have of your income or other facts you want to bring up at hearing.
Can I talk to my DHHS Support Enforcement Officer and make a deal instead of going to the hearing?
DHHS sets the support according to set income guidelines. The amount is calculated based on what your income is and what the other parent's income is. Some expenses, like child care and extraordinary medical expenses for the child, are also counted.
You may want to talk to your DHHS child support worker to find out what your order should be based on your current income. If you reach an agreement, before you dismiss your hearing request, be sure that:
- any agreement about the amount of back support you owe is in writing; and
- any agreement about a change in your current support is made in writing as an amendment to your support order.
What if I am not satisfied with the amount DHHS says I must pay?
You can do your own child support calculation. Click here for our information telling you how to calculate your own child support. That page includes a link to an online self-calculating form.) You can also get information on preparing for a DHHS hearing, and knowing what DHHS can do to collect. Or you can contact Pine Tree Legal Assistance for more information.
You still have the right to have an administrative hearing if you do not agree with the DHHS worker's decision.
Find more information on the
DHHS Support Enforcement & Recovery Home Page
Maine Child Support Enforcement Manual
Rules the State must follow in administering the child support program