Parents' Rights and Responsibilities
Parents who receive child support services have certain rights as well as certain responsibilities.
Keep in mind both parents are responsible for supporting their children. All children have a right to financial support from both parents.
Parents who apply for child support services have a right to:
- receive child support enforcement services from their county child support agency without paying an application fee.
- receive help in getting and enforcing a child support court order.
- ask that the child support agency notify him or her if the agency takes administrative enforcement actions (such as seizing property) against the other parent. Parents should put this request in writing.
- be told if the child support agency plans to close their case.
- receive most child support services free of charge if they take part in the W-2, SSI Caretaker Supplement, or Kinship Care programs. Families in these programs are automatically referred to child support.
- ask the child support agency to stop providing services in their case if they no longer take part in the W-2, BadgerCare Plus, SSI Caretaker Supplement, or Kinship Care programs. Parents should put this request in writing.
- file a written complaint and have their case reviewed if they believe that the local agency has delayed mandatory actions or has not taken mandatory actions on their case. All child support agencies have a complaint procedure posted in their agencies.
Both parents in cases receiving services from their child support agency have the right to:
- receive help in establishing legal fatherhood (paternity)
- ask their child support agency for "privacy protection" if the release of their address, telephone number, employer, or other location information would put them or their children at risk.
- ask for a review of an existing order.
Parents' Civil Rights
The following civil rights laws protect parents from discrimination in the delivery of child support services:
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Wisconsin Child Support program does not discriminate when providing services or employment on the basis of age, race, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, arrest/conviction record, use of lawful products, military status, disability, or political affiliation.
Parents have a right to free language assistance. Parents who need this material or information in another language, in an alternate format, or need help in using child support services, should contact:
- their county or tribal child support agency
- If the local agency cannot help, parents may contact the Wisconsin Child Support program at:
- (608) 266-9909
- (800) 947-3529 TTY (toll free)
If parents have questions about discrimination and harassment, they may:
- ask to speak to their caseworker's supervisor or the agency's equal opportunity coordinator to try to resolve their concerns, or
- contact the Wisconsin Child Support program at: (608) 266-9909 or (800) 947-3529 TTY (toll free)
Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory action.
In general, information about a specific child support case cannot be given to anyone other than the parties (usually the mother and father), their attorneys, or any attorney assigned to the child without consent of the parties. Information may be shared with others for the purpose of administration of the child support program and other related programs. Related programs include the Medicaid/BadgerCare Plus, Kinship Care, SSI Caretaker Supplement, and W-2 programs. If the release of a parent's address, phone number, employer, or other location information would put the parent or the children at risk of harm, the parent should talk to their child support worker about privacy protection.
The exceptions to confidentiality are:
- Child Support Lien Docket - Information on this electronic list is public information.
- Records maintained by the clerk of courts
- Criminal and civil court actions.
When receiving services from their child support agency, both parents are responsible for telling the child support agency if they:
- move, change phone numbers, change jobs, change their name, or have changes in income (required by state law) - Parents can update their addresses and phone numbers on the Child Support Online Services website or by contacting their local child support agency
- change legal custody or placement of their children
- ask the court to change their support order (The child support agency must approve a legal agreement between parents that changes the amount of support. Parents should submit the agreement to their child support agency before they file the agreement with the court.)
- change health insurance coverage
- fail to receive or pay child support within the month due
- schedule any court hearings about their child support case
Parents are also responsible for telling the child support agency if:
- the other parent or minor child dies
- the paying parent will be receiving a lump-sum payment of any kind (such as an insurance settlement, an inheritance, or retroactive Social Security payments) if past-due support is owed
Parents receiving or wanting to receive support are responsible for providing any information that they have or could find out that would be needed to:
What Parents Can Do To Help
- Both parents should always cooperate with their child support worker by completing necessary forms and keeping appointments.
- Parents applying for child support services should provide the child support agency with copies of any court orders they already have for support or legal fatherhood (paternity). Parents should also provide copies of divorce decrees and any temporary or marital support orders.
- Parents applying for child support services should provide any information they know about the other parent, including full name, place of birth, current address, employment or other income information, and Social Security or Tax Identification number.
- It is very important that parents understand that child support attorneys who appear at their support court hearings are there to represent the interests of the State of Wisconsin. Child Support attorneys do not represent either parent.
- There is no attorney-client relationship.
- The child support attorney will handle legal issues connected with obtaining and enforcing a child support order. Parents may hire a private attorney if they wish. Parents applying for services should inform their child support agency if they hire a private attorney.
- Child support attorneys do not handle legal custody and placement issues.