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What Are the Options for Enforcing Child Support Orders in Wisconsin?

Posted on in Family Law

milwaukee child support lawyerBy: Attorney Megan Drury and Paralegal Ali Jaeger

If you are a parent who receives child support in Wisconsin, these payments may be essential for ensuring that you can provide for your children's ongoing needs. Unfortunately, enforcement of child support orders put in place by a court is often necessary in cases where non-custodial parents fall behind on payments. The good news is that there are several different ways to enforce a child support order in Wisconsin. 

Child Support Enforcement Actions Available in Wisconsin

When child support is past-due, the recipient may bring this matter to the attention of the court, or they may work with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to collect what is owed. Notably, Wisconsin law requires interest to be charged on child support that has not been paid. When the total amount of child support that is past-due exceeds the amount that a parent is required to pay in a single month, a 0.5 percent interest charge will apply to the amount owed. 

There are multiple methods of child support enforcement that may be available, including:

  • Withholding income from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck - Generally, when a child support order is put in place, an automatic income withholding order will be created. However, if the non-custodial parent is self-employed or changes jobs, other arrangements may need to be put in place to ensure that ongoing payments will be made. In cases where past-due child support is owed, new income withholding orders may need to be created and issued to the parent's current employer. If necessary, the amount withheld from a parent's paycheck may be increased until the past-due amount is paid off. The withholding amount may be increased by up to 50 percent of the total amount the parent has been ordered to pay each month.

  • Creating a payment plan - When a person owes more past-due child support than they will be able to pay at once, a plan may be set up in which they will make regular payments until the amount owed is paid off. These payments will be in addition to their ongoing child support payments. Interest will continue to apply to the past-due amount until it is fully paid.

  • Offsetting tax refunds - DCF may notify the IRS and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue that a parent owes child support. If the past-due amounts are not paid off by the time the parent files their annual tax returns, any federal or state tax refunds they receive will be intercepted, and these amounts will be applied to the unpaid child support balance. These methods may also be used to intercept any Wisconsin state lottery winnings.

  • Child support liens - DCF may place a lien on property owned by a parent who owes child support, including their home or vehicle. While these liens are in place, the parent will be unable to sell the property until they pay the amount owed, they will likely be unable to take out any new loans, and they will be denied grants or loans from state agencies.

  • License suspension - DCF may take action to suspend, deny, restrict, or refuse to renew a parent's driver’s license, a professional license, or a recreational license (such as a hunting or fishing license). This may be an option if a parent does not have a payment plan in place and has a child support lien with an amount that is at least $1,000 or 300 percent of the parent's monthly child support payments, whichever is greater.

  • Filing a motion for contempt - If other enforcement methods have failed, a parent who has failed to pay child support may be held in contempt of court. In these cases, the non-paying parent may be subject to fines, jail time, or both. 

Contact Our Milwaukee Child Support Enforcement Lawyers

There are several possible ways to enforce a child support order in Wisconsin. The best course of action will depend on the circumstances of an individual case, so it is important to speak with an attorney to determine the ideal ways to address non-payment and collect the amount owed. To learn how Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, LLP can address this issue and ensure that child support payments are made as required, contact our Milwaukee, WI child support attorneys at 414-271-1440 and set up a free consultation.




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