Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

 

 

Parents' Rights and Responsibilities

Parents who receive child support services have certain rights as well as certain responsibilities.

Parents' Rights

Parents who receive child support services have a right to:

  • Receive case enforcement services from their county child support agency without an application fee.
  • Ask their child support agency for notifications when enforcement actions take place on their case.
  • Know if the child support agency plans on closing their case.
  • File a written complaint to have their case reviewed if they believe that the local agency has not taken a mandatory action on their case.
  • Ask that the child support agency close their case, as long as they are not receiving public benefits.

Parent's who receive child support services and benefits have a right to:

  • Receive most child support services free of charge.
  • Ask that the child support agency close their case if they no longer receive public benefits.

Both parents in cases receiving child support services have a right to:

  • Receive help in establishing legal fatherhood of their child.
  • Ask their child support agency for privacy protection, which prohibits the release of confidential case information to the other parent on the case. For more information on privacy protection, see the confidentiality section below.
  • Ask for a review of their existing child support 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.

If parents have questions about discrimination and harassment they may:

  • Ask to speak to their caseworker's supervisor to try and resolve their concerns; or
  • Contact the State Equal Rights Opportunity Officer at (800) 947-3529 (toll free).

Confidentiality of Personal Information

In general, information about a specific child support case cannot be given to anyone other than the case participants, their attorneys, or an attorney assigned to the child without consent of the participants. Information may be shared with others for the purpose of administration of the child support program or other related programs. Related programs include 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 exception 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

Parents' Responsibilities

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. Find out how to update your information here.
  • Change legal custody or placement of their children.
  • Ask the court to change their support order. Parents should submit their 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 hearing about their child support case.

 

Parents are also responsible for telling the child support agency if:

 

  • The other parent or the minor child dies.
  • The paying parent will be receiving a lump-sum payment of any kind.

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.
  • Parents should also provide their child support agency any 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.

Legal Representation

  • 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. Find out more about legal custody and placement here.