Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

 

 

Child Support Liens

Federal and state laws give child support agencies the option of using administrative enforcement actions. Administrative enforcement allows the child support agency to act without going to court. In Wisconsin this means initiating a child support lien.

What is a Child Support Lien?

A child support lien is a hold placed on property (such as land and cars) until past-due child support is paid. These liens will be placed without a court hearing. Liens must be paid off or released before the parent can sell the property. In most cases, a lien is automatically created when past-due support is $500 or more. The child support lien amount does not include unpaid birth costs, fees, or interest.

Expland topics below to learn more about child support liens

The Child Support Lien Docket

The Child Support Lien Docket is an electronic list of all parents with child support liens in Wisconsin. The list includes the names of parents owing past-due support and their lien amounts. The Lien Docket is a public record.

Notices to Parents About the Lien Docket

Before any action is taken, child support will mail a notice to the parent at the address listed with the child support agency.

  • Notice 1:
    When a parent is listed on the Child Support Lien Docket, a "Notice of Lien and Credit Bureau Reporting" is mailed to the parent. The notice tells the parent the amount of the lien and the date that it was listed on the docket. This notice also describes the parent's rights and the procedures for disputing the lien amount.
  • Notice 2:
    Before any additional enforcement actions are taken, this second notice is mailed to the parent. The second notice informs the parent of the right to a hearing. The hearing is only to dispute the child support debt owed, it will not remove the lien if the debt is valid.

What Happens When a Parent is Placed on the Lien Docket

When a parent is listed on the Child Support Lien Docket:

  • A lien will be placed on the parent's real property (home, land), and on titled property (car, truck).
  • Child Support will report the lien to credit bureaus. This could affect the parent's ability to get loans.
  • State Agencies will deny grants and loans to the parent.
  • If a parent agrees to a payment plan, grants and loans may be granted.

Other Enforcement Actions Used by Child Support Agencies

The child support agency may also take these enforcement actions against parents listed on the Lien Docket:

  • Intercept lump-sum payments from public retirement funds.
  • Intercept judgments or settlements, such as a personal injury settlement.
  • Request the suspension or denial of professional, occupational, driver's, and recreational licenses when a child support lien equals or exceeds three months' worth of support.
  • Seize bank accounts including checking, savings, IRAs, and mutual funds when a child support lien equals or exceeds $1,000 or three months' worth of support, whichever is greater.
  • Seize real property (land) and titled property (cars) when a child support lien equals or exceeds six months' worth of support.