ATLANTA (GA) – Parents who need help to obtain a child support order or enforce an existing order, and non-custodial parents who would like to open a case in order to establish an official record of their payments, may now apply for these services on the Internet. They may also pay the application fee online or make child support payments online, using a credit or debit card. The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) recently expanded its online customer services to provide an interactive form designed to simplify the application and payment process and allow parents to save time previously spent on phone calls and office visits. The new services are also expected to increase staff efficiency and reduce application errors.
“We plan to continue improving our services to families through cost-effective technological innovations,” says OCSE Director Robert Riddle. “We were one of the first DHR agencies to provide information and services online through our Customer Service Portal. Our goal is to help parents provide for their children. I can’t think of a better use of technology.”
People who have no access to computers may still apply for services by mail or in person at any OCSE office, as in the past. Some offices are distributing lists of computers available to the public at locations such as libraries, and they may offer walk-in customers the use of a computer within the office.
Parents who apply for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or Medicaid and are eligible for child support have their support case opened for them by a caseworker when they apply to those programs, so the new service is intended to help those parents who do not apply for public assistance.
The online application is easier because as people fill it out their information triggers only the remaining questions that apply to their situation, so they don’t have to fill in as many
blanks. If they leave something out or fill in the wrong kind of information the computer will prompt them to correct the mistake, which means that the form won’t have to be returned for corrections and mailed in again.
Non-custodial parents who are penalized by a court because they are behind in payments can now settle their accounts quickly online. This may mean quicker reinstatement of a driver’s license or release of liens on their bank account, or even prevent the need to spend time in jail. They can pay with credit cards, or ask a friend or relative to lend the payment through a credit card online. Some courts will make a computer available for online payments following a ruling.
“Two parents are involved in every child support case, and we serve both,” says Riddle. “The online payment feature helps people meet their obligations and gets the payment to their children faster.”