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 Get a DHHS Order Set Aside?
Here are the rules.
- Your DHHS order must be less than one year old.
- You must have a good reason for not asking for a hearing before or for not going to the earlier DHHS hearing.
- You must be able to show that the earlier decision was wrong.
- The order assumed that you earned the "average annual wage" but you were really earning less. This may have happened because you did not go to the hearing or you did not have your wage information.
- DHHS set a past due debt which was more than you owed because you had paid some support that they didn't know about.
- You were receiving TANF (formerly AFDC) during the time you owed the child support.
How Do I Ask for the Order to be Set Aside?
Step One: Write a letter to DHHS asking for the order to be set aside. Be sure to include the following information:
- your reason (or "good cause") for not appealing the decision earlier
- the reasons you think the order is wrong
- your signature
- your mailing address
- your DHHS ID#, if you can get it (This number is on any papers DHHS has sent you.)
Step Two: Send the letter to DHHS. You can submit your request online through the 'contact us' option in the Maine DHHS Customer Portal. You can also call, email, or mail your request to your local DHHS office, which you can find here. Write down when you sent the request to DHHS, and how you sent it.
What Will Happen Next?
DHHS will either send you a notice of hearing or a notice denying the hearing. If you are denied a hearing, you may appeal that decision within 30 days. Send your written response to the DHHS hearing office. Also, file a "request to amend" the order. See last paragraph below.
If a hearing is scheduled, go to the hearing. To prepare for the hearing, be ready to explain:
- your good reason for not asking for a hearing before or for missing an earlier hearing; and
- why DHHS should set aside or amend the old order.
You received TANF for some or all of the months you have been ordered to pay support. (You should not have any debt for these months.)
You have records of support you paid which you have not been given credit for. (Bring any documents you have to prove this, such as cancelled checks, or record of payments made.)
The amount of support you were ordered to pay assumes more income than you actually had. (Bring records such as wages stubs or tax returns.)
For more information about how to prepare for a support hearing, click here. Click here if you want to do your own child support calculation before the hearing.
Note: At the hearing, if the hearing officer is not convinced that you have "good cause" to set aside the old order, you can still ask that it be changed for the future, from the date you filed your written request.
What if the Child Support Order I Disagree With is More Than One Year Old?
If the order is more than one year old, you cannot get it set aside. But you can get it changed for the future, beginning with the date you file a "request to amend" the order. If you want to do this, click here for our information How To: Change or Enforce Your Maine Divorce or Parental Rights Order