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- Customer Handbook
ReliaCard Information
How to Apply for Service
Child Support Information for Medicaid Applicants
Income Withholding
Electronic Payment Information (EFT)
Levying from Bank Accounts
Federal and State Tax Refunds
Passport Sanctions
Frequently Asked Questions
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ReliaCard Information
Receiving your child support payment by debit card - ReliaCard / Visa

If you do not sign up to receive your child support payments through direct deposit into your bank account or qualify for an exemption, you will be issued the ReliaCard to access your payments. The following provides general information about the card.

What is the ReliaCard? A type of debit card that can be used to get cash, make purchases, or pay bills.

Where can I use the ReliaCard? The card can be used to pay for goods or services at any business that accepts Visa debit or Interlink cards. The card can also be used to withdraw cash at automated teller machines (ATMs) or financial institution tellers. It is recommended that you make your withdrawals at U.S. Bank or MoneyPass ATMs in order to avoid the surcharges that may be charged by other ATM owners.

To pay for goods or services, simply present the card to the cashier. If you are asked to swipe your card through a machine at the checkout counter, you may be asked to enter "credit" or "debit". Enter "credit" if you wish to simply sign your name. Enter "debit" if you prefer to enter a personal identification number (PIN). If you select "debit", the merchant may also allow you to receive some cash back.

When is my money available on the ReliaCard? Money should be available for your use on the 3rd business day after the payment is received at the Collection Services Center.

How do I know if a child support payment has been received? You can use this website to see if a payment has been received by clicking on the payments tab on the home page. You can also get this information by calling our child support automated information line 7 days/week, 24 hours/day. The phone number is 1-888-229-9223 (toll free nationwide).

How do I know if money is available on my ReliaCard? You can use the U.S. Bank website to check your balance at www.reliacard.com. You can call U.S. Bank toll-free 7 days/week, 24 hours/day to get your balance. The toll free number nationwide is (866) 276-5114. You can also call this number to ask questions about your account or how to use your card.

How will I get my card? Your card will come by mail from U.S. Bank. The bank will also send instructions on how to activate your card. You must activate the card before it can be used.

How can I avoid paying fees when using the ReliaCard?

ATM's:
You can get free unlimited withdrawals at any US Bank or MoneyPass ATM each month (220 locations in Iowa and 15,000 nationwide). You can also get 1 free withdrawal per month at any Visa/Plus ATM (4,451 in Iowa and 400,000 nationwide). You will be charged $1.25 each time you make an additional ATM withdrawal in the same calendar month at a Visa/PLUS ATM. Additional ATM owner surcharges may apply.

Teller:
Customers receive free unlimited withdrawls at any teller window where Visa is accepted. This includes over 1,665 financial institutions in Iowa and more than 98,000 nationwide.

Cash Back Point of Sale:
Whenever a business accepts VISA cards and chooses to give cash back with purchases, you can get cash back without a fee! (such as Target, Walmart, etc.) Unlimited use subject to merchant restrictions.

  • Make sure the business accepts Interlink cards and allows you to get cash back with your purchase

  • When making your purchase, swipe your card through the card reader (a box that usually sits at the checkout counter)

  • Select "debit" and enter your personal identification number (PIN)

  • The card reader or cashier will guide you through the steps

  • The cashier will give you a receipt and the cash you requested (this is called a point of sale transaction)

Can I use the ReliaCard to pay my bills online or with my smartphone?

Yes. You can manage and pay your bills online when you sign up on the ReliaCard website. You may also choose to sign up for text or e-mail alerts to remind you when your bills are due. The ReliaCard Mobile Banking App is available for you to make a payment or review your account balance and recent transactions on your smartphone.

To learn more about online bill pay features, visit www.reliacard.com , select Iowa Child Support from the dropdown list, and log in to your account. Then click on the Bill Pay tab.

To view an online Bill Pay demonstration video, click here.

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How to Apply for Service
To apply for services select the Application for Services form. Mail the completed form to the Child Support Office serving your county. Please also send copies of any court orders and payment records that already exist for your case. If you do not supply the court orders and payment records there could be a delay in getting services.

There is a fee to apply for these services.

Child support services include establishing paternity, establishing and enforcing child support and medical orders, collecting support payments and locating non-custodial parents.

If paternity needs to be established it can be done by agreement of the parents or through genetic testing.

After paternity is established a child support amount and medical support can be ordered using the Iowa Supreme Court Guidelines.

Child support amounts and medical support provisions can be changed in several ways. Two of the ways the Child Support Recovery Unit can change or modify support amounts are through the Review and Adjustment process and the Administrative Modification process. Each of these has different requirements. Another way to change support amounts is through a private attorney. For more information, go to changing an order.

Some of the ways child support can be collected are:

  • By collecting money from paychecks through income withholding.
  • By intercepting tax refunds.
  • By collecting payments from bank accounts.
  • By working with other states to collect child and/or medical support outside of Iowa.
  • By suspending licenses and passports and taking court action when appropriate.

Your case will be reviewed to determine the most effective action.

Using these enforcement tools may not always result in immediate or consistent payments, but the Child Support Recovery Unit will continue its efforts to collect support payments for you and your children.
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Child Support Information for Medicaid Applicants
Here are some of the things the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) can do for you, if you request our services. Other brochures about Department services are available at your county DHS or local child support office.

WHAT WILL CSRU DO FOR ME?

Here are some of the ways we may be able to help you. We can:

  • Find parents.
  • Establish paternity.
  • Get an order for cash and medical support.
  • Enforce child support, including medical support.
  • Withhold support payments from wages, unemployment benefits, or other income.
  • Deposit support payments directly into bank accounts.
  • Collect child support from state and federal tax refunds or other payments.
  • Review an existing order amount to determine if it should go up, down, or stay the same, and to add medical support such as health insurance or cash medical support to help buy health insurance.

HOW DO I GET THE SERVICES?

If you ask for our services when you apply for Medicaid, your name is sent to us when your application is approved.

  • You may receive our services even if one of the parents lives in another state.

IS THERE A COST FOR SERVICES?

  • If you get Medicaid, these services are free.
  • If you are not approved for Medicaid, and you want Child Support services, you must pay a $25.00 application fee. We list other fees on the application.
  • Parents contesting paternity establishment may be asked to pay genetic testing costs.

WHAT WILL CSRU ASK ME TO DO?

  • Give us information or documents we ask for.
  • Give us your up-to-date address and employer.
  • Come to any meetings or hearings that we schedule.
  • Tell us, in writing, about any new information you may have which helps us collect and distribute support payments.

HOW LONG DO CSRU PROCESSES TAKE?

The length of time depends on how hard it is to find a necessary party and verify income or assets. More time must be allowed for legal processes if the other parent lives in another state.

WILL CSRU SHARE MY INFORMATION WITH ANYONE?

We keep addresses and other information about parties who receive or pay child support confidential. We may learn about information as a part of court actions to obtain or enforce support. Sometimes the court may order us to release confidential information.

HOW DO I CONTACT CSRU?

You can get more information about our services listed here, including payment information, by calling the child support automated information line at 1-888-229-9223 (toll free nationwide). Calling this number can also help you find the local office phone number for your area.

It is the policy of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide equal treatment in employment and provision of services to applicants, employees, and clients without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, disability, political belief, or veteran status.

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Income Withholding
When child support is collected from paychecks or other income, it is called income withholding.

Federal and state laws require income withholding to be used in all cases even if child support is not past due.

When employers receive Income Withholding Notices, they have ten days to process the paperwork. Once that is done, the employer must withhold child support from the next paycheck.

The amount withheld includes the amount due for that payment and an additional amount for past due support may be included. If these amounts total more than 50% of wages, the employer can only withhold 50%.

Employers have seven business days to send the payment to the Collection Services Center and may withhold an additional $2.00 from each payment to cover their costs.

When the income withholding payment is received, the Collection Services Center has two business days to process the payment.

If the person owing child support has more than one case, the income withholding payments are divided among all cases.

If you owe child support, each time an Income Withholding Notice is sent to your employer, you receive a copy. This notice has instructions on what to do if you disagree with the action or if you have limited income which makes the amount withheld for past due support a hardship.

One of the ways to dispute the income withholding action is to ask for a conference with the Child Support Recovery Unit. You can have a conference only if you request it within 15 days of receiving a new or amended income withholding order.

Income withholding can be used to collect child support from other sources of income besides wages, such as Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
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Electronic Payment Information (EFT)
Payment by phone or by web are programs which allows you to make payments from a touch tone phone or through a secured section of this website. To participate, obtain an authorization form. This form allows the Collection Services Center to take payments out of your savings or checking account. After you return the completed authorization form to the Collection Services Center, it takes 20 calendar days to set up the process. On your form, you choose your own personal identification or PIN number. Additionally, you will designate on your form the maximum amount you would ever authorize to be taken at any one time. If you want to change this maximum amount authorized, complete the form to change maximum amount. You will receive a notice telling you when you can begin using payment by phone or web.

When the payment by phone or web process has been set up for your case, you can call 1-888-229-9223 or use this website and select the option to make a payment by phone or web. Then, you must enter your Case Number, your PIN and the amount you want to pay. Payments are withdrawn from your bank account within 1 to 2 business days. This method offers several benefits. You save money on postage and there is no chance of a check being lost or damaged in the mail. Also, you decide when your payments are made and the amount to be deducted each time.

Payment through automatic withdrawal is a convenient way to have your support payment automatically taken from your checking or savings account. This method works very well if you pay the same amount on a regular basis. To participate, obtain an authorization form. By completing this form you are allowing us to deduct an amount from your bank account on a regular basis. You may have payments deducted weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly. This method offers several benefits. You save money on postage and there is no chance of a check being lost or damaged in the mail. Also, your payments are made on time, even if you forget or are out of town. If you want to change your automatic withdrawal amount, use the Change Automatic Withdrawal Form.

If you receive support payments through the Collection Services Center, our direct deposit program lets you have payments directly deposited into your checking or savings account. Funds are credited to your bank account 3 to 4 business days after the Collection Services Center receives the payment. There is no risk of checks being lost or stolen; the payments are made without you having to go to the bank; and in many instances, you have access to your payments sooner than if received in the mail. To participate, obtain an authorization form. After the form is received by the Collection Services Center, it takes 20 calendar days to process. You will receive a notice that tells you the effective date of the service. If you want to change your automatic deposit, please use the Change Automatic Deposit Form.
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Levying from Bank Accounts
When child support is collected by taking money from bank or financial accounts, it is called administrative levy. This method is used to collect past due support.

Iowa law allows the Child Support Recovery Unit to take up to 50% of the balance in many types of accounts. This may include joint accounts, even if the deposits were made by a person who does not owe child support.

Notice of the possibility of administrative levy is given either in the child support order or by mail to persons who are ordered to pay child support. This informational notice is called the "Legal Notice of Administrative Levy". It tells you administrative levy may be used.

If the form called "Administrative Levy Notice to Obligor" is received by mail, the levy has happened. This means a part of the account balance has been frozen and is not available to you.

The notice will also tell you what to do if you disagree with this action.
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Federal and State Tax Refunds
Federal tax refunds may be withheld to pay past due child support. When the past due child support is more than $150 owed to the State of Iowa or $500 owed to the family, the federal tax refunds of the person owing child support may be withheld by an offset.

Monthly, the child support recovery unit reports to the IRS the amount of past due child support owed on these cases. Once the case has been reported, the tax refunds continue to be offset until the amount of past due child support is less than $150 owed to the State of Iowa or $500 owed to the family. Updated balance information is provided to the IRS.

When a tax refund is offset, the person owing child support receives a notice and the Collection Services Center receives the payment from the IRS.

We hold a federal tax return to allow individuals time to request an appeal or file needed forms. If the payment is from a single filer's return, we hold the payment for 30 days. If the payment is from a joint return, the time we hold the payment depends upon whether the IRS tells us it received and processed IRS form 8379, Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation, along with the joint tax return. If the IRS processed the injured spouse form and the return at the same time, we hold the payment for 30 days. If they were not processed at the same time, we hold the payment for 5 months. During this 5-month period, you can file IRS form 8379 to claim the injured spouse's portion of the refund. You can get Form 8379 from the IRS by calling 1 (800) 829-1040, from the IRS website at www.irs.gov or from your tax preparer. Since the IRS does not notify use when form 8379 is processed if it is later than the return, we continue to hold the payment for 5 months.

Payments from federal tax refunds are paid first to past due child support owed to the State of Iowa. Any remaining money is paid to past due child support owed to the family. If there is any money left after all past due child support is paid, that amount is returned to the taxpayer.

If you disagree with a federal tax refund offset, there are strict timeframes to file your challenge. These timeframes are as short as 15 days after the date on the notice. If you receive a notice about a federal tax refund offset and disagree with the amount of past due child support or you are not the person owing support, you may file an appeal.

When the Child Support Recovery Unit offsets federal tax refunds, it happens in two steps. Each step has a different way to challenge the offset.

At the first step we send your name to the federal government to collect past due support. The federal government sends you a notice telling you your name has been referred. At this point, the offset has not yet happened. To challenge being selected for offset, you may ask us to review the matter by contacting by your local office. You have 30 days to request this challenge.

The second step of the federal tax offset process happens when the federal government actually keeps your income tax refund. The federal government sends you a notice explaining the money has been offset. When you receive this notice, you must act quickly. You have 15 days to request an appeal. This is a formal hearing with an administrative law judge. You must send a written request for an appeal to the address on the notice or to the Department of Human Services' Appeals Section, 5th Floor Hoover Building, 1305 East Walnut St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319. You must include a copy of your offset notice, because you have the only one issued.

For more information about federal taxes or forms you receive, you may visit your local child support office.

Iowa state tax refunds may be withheld to pay past due child support. State tax refunds may be offset if the past due child support is at least $50 unless the required child support has been paid in each of the last 12 months.

Each week we report to the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance the amount of past due child support owed on these cases.

When a tax refund is offset, the person owing child support receives a notice. If the payment is from a joint return, either taxpayer has 15 days from the date of this notice to ask us to split the refund so that we do not offset the joint tax filers share. The Collection Services Center receives the payment from the Department of Revenue and Finance about 45 days after the notice was mailed.

State tax refund payments are processed by the Collection Services Center as soon as they are received from the Department of Revenue and Finance.

If the family is receiving public assistance, the state of Iowa keeps the money. If the family is not receiving public assistance, state tax refunds pay first to any current child support due to the family. Any remaining amounts are then paid to any past due child support owed to the family. If money remains, it is then paid to past due child support owed to the State of Iowa. If there is any money left after all past due child support is paid, that amount is returned to the taxpayer.

There are strict time frames to file an appeal about a state tax refund offset. The person owing child support receives a notice when their tax refund is being offset. If an appeal is filed, it must be done within 15 days. A written request for an appeal must be sent to the address on the notice or to the Department of Human Services' Appeals Section, 5th Floor Hoover Building, 1305 East Walnut St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319.
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Passport Sanctions
The Child Support Recovery Unit can put a hold on a passport. The hold is called a passport sanction. This happens when a person owes more than $2,500 in overdue child support. The hold means that the US State Department can:

  • Deny an application for a new passport
  • Refuse to renew a passport
  • Restrict or limit how you may use a passport
  • Revoke (take away) a passport

We do not remove the hold until the overdue support is paid.

We send updates to the federal government every month. Contact us if you make a large payment. We can send your update sooner.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

Where do I send my child support payments?

Send payments to:

Collection Services Center
PO Box 9125
Des Moines, IA 50306

Make payments payable to the Collection Services Center and list the case number on the check to ensure proper credit.

If you are interested in making payments from your bank account, please review Electronic Payment Information (EFT) which is available through the "General Information" section on our Welcome Page.

 

Q:

Why should I pay child support when I can't visit my children? Why should I let the other parent visit our children when he or she isn't paying child support?

These are difficult situations for parents. Legally, the two issues are not related. In other words, child support must be paid and visitation with the children must be allowed as the court has ordered. For more information about services designed to help with visitation issues, please visit the "Fatherhood" website shown by the link on the Welcome Page.

 

Q:

Why does my child support have to be taken from my paycheck?

Changes in state and federal laws now require child support to be withheld from wages when a parent is employed. In addition, child support is withheld from unemployment benefits. This is called "income withholding."  Employers withhold payments for current support and an additional amount for past support, if owed.

 

Q:

Why is the Collection Services Center involved in my case?

Federal law requires all states to have a centralized location to process income withholding payments. In Iowa, the Collection Services Center processes these payments.

 

Q:

What is the Child Support Recovery Unit and why are they involved in my case?

The Child Support Recovery Unit is involved in your case because you or the other parent applied for services or someone in the family is receiving (or has received) public assistance. The Unit is authorized to establish and enforce child support and medical support orders for families who apply for services or who receive public assistance now or in the past.

 

Q:

Why do I owe child support? I was never served with any legal papers or attended a court hearing.

Child support obligations can only be established after the parent (or an adult living in the same household) has been served with proper legal notice and given a chance to appear before the court. However, if a parent does not respond within the time period allowed in the legal notice, the court may proceed with entering an order for support. This is called a "default order."

Contact the Child Support Recovery Unit if you believe you are being required to pay child support and you were not served with proper legal notice.

 

Q:

Why didn't I receive the full amount of child support?

When a support payment is received, the Collection Services Center distributes the money according to state and federal regulations. Reasons you might not receive the full amount include:

  • If child support is owed to more than one family, the payment is divided among the families.
  • If the child support amount exceeds 50% of a parent's net income, no more than 50% can be withheld for child support.
  • If the payment is more than is owed to the family and an amount remains owed to the state, the Collection Services Center applies the remainder to the amount owed to the state.
Q:

How can I obtain health insurance coverage for my children?

The court can change a child support order to include health insurance coverage when a private attorney or the Child Support Recovery Unit requests the change.

The court may change orders to require health insurance coverage when it is available at a reasonable cost to the parent paying child support, such as through an employer or other group health insurance.

For more information, go to changing an order.

 

Q:

How do I get a lien on my house removed?

To get a lien on property removed, a Release of Lien or a Satisfaction of Judgment must be filed with the Clerk of the District Court in the county where the child support order is filed. Contact the Child Support Recovery Unit for assistance if part or all of the child support is owed to the State of Iowa. Contact a private attorney if all of the child support is owed to the other parent.

 

Q:

What happens with child support now that my child is in foster care?

Each parent has a legal responsibility to pay child support while his or her child is in foster care. The Foster Care Recovery Unit handles these child support obligations. For more information about paying child support while your child is in foster care, please visit the "Foster Care Recovery" website shown by the link on the Welcome Page.

 

Q:

Do I need an attorney?

You may choose to hire an attorney to represent your interests.
Attorneys who work for the Child Support Recovery Unit and the Foster Care Recovery Unit represent the interests of the State of Iowa. They do not represent the interests of either parent.

 

Q:

What is the difference between an "official" payment record and an "unofficial" payment record?

An "official" payment record has been certified by a designated employee of the Collection Services Center as a true, accurate, and correct copy of the original on file. You may want to use one when showing your payments to the court or applying for a loan, for example.

An "unofficial" payment record has been printed from this website and has not been certified by a designated employee of the Collection Services Center. You may want to use one to compare your records to those of the Collection Services Center or to verify your eligibility for certain assistance programs, such as subsidized housing or energy assistance.


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If you have questions, call your local office. Our local offices are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST Monday - Friday, except state holidays. You can also call the child support automated information line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-229-9223 (toll free nationwide) for additional information.