By Cassel Villarreal
If you are a parent who needs help collecting child support from the other parent, then you can receive case management services from the Wisconsin Child Support Program. If you receive public aid, you automatically receive case management services.
However, you do not have to be a recipient of public aid to be able to utilize the case management services of the Wisconsin Child Support Program. Obtaining or having a child support order makes you eligible for case management services. All you need to do is contact your local child support agency, complete the application and pay the one time application fee of $20.00. The application fee may be waived if the court decides that you are unable to pay.
Services available through the Wisconsin Child Support Services address most common issues with obtaining, enforcing and modifying orders and often are able to access information not readily available to a private attorney. However, it is, at all times, important to remember that your local child support agency does not represent either parent even though they may be modifying or enforcing an order at the request for services by a parent.
The child support agency has access to its own and other Wisconsin data systems to obtain information about parents who do not pay or stop paying child support. For example, the child support agency is able to obtain access to lists of recently hired workers throughout the country.
The child support agency can assist in changing a child support order if there has been a substantial change in financial circumstances (for example, a loss of employment due to layoff or obtaining a job at a greater rate of pay) or if your current order is more than three years old.
Every three years the child support agency will mail a letter to you and the other parent giving you notice about your rights for a review of the child support order. You can ask the child support agency to review the order if you feel it is too high or low. The child support agency will collect recent financial and placement information from both parents and seek an agreement from both parents to adjust the order. If the parents do not agree then the court may be asked to decide the matter.
In the case of a substantial change in financial circumstances you may request that the child support agency review the order more than every three years. However, because the child support agency only actively reviews orders once every three years if you believe there has been a financial change you will want to notify the child support agency, in writing, that you want the order reviewed and state the specific financial change.
A parent should review their court orders to see if they provide for an annual adjustment and/or annual exchange of tax returns provisions. If there is such a provision you need to take care to follow the specific procedure and time lines defined in your order to request a review of the child support order.
Enforcing child support orders is accomplished through the use of many tools available to the child support agency. The most common tool known is income withholding or the withholding of child support from a parent’s paycheck, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation benefits, social security retirement benefits and social security disability insurance.
Whenever a parent’s past-due support is $500 or 1-month of child support, whichever is greater, their name is put on the Child Support Lien Docket. This results in a hold being placed upon the delinquent parent’s property, most commonly their homes and cars. Parent’s listed on the lien docket are reported to the credit bureaus.
Other actions that may be taken against a parent on the lien docket include possible seizure of bank accounts or other property, possible suspension or non-renewal of professional and occupational licenses, hunting and fishing licenses and drivers’ licenses. In addition, the child support debt is automatically reported to credit bureaus.
The child support agency also submits past due child support to the Internal Revenue Service and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for payment of past-due child support from a parent income tax refunds. This is called the tax intercept program.
Court actions can be initiated by the child support agency against parents who are significantly behind in their child support payments. The court actions initiated are enforcement proceedings (contempt of court) or criminal charges for nonsupport. Child support may refer a case to the district attorney for criminal nonsupport. However, the district attorney makes the final decision in whether or not to pursue a delinquent payor criminally.
Sometimes a parent with a Wisconsin child support order lives in a different state or country. The child support agency will work with the other state or country to enforce the Wisconsin child support order. This can be a timely process. Some states and countries policies support enforcing out of state or foreign child support orders better than others.
Finally, a delinquent parent can also be denied specific services from the federal government such as passports, college grants or small business loans.
It is important to communicate with your local child support agency and complete an application for case management . You need to keep the child support agency informed of your failure to receive child support and always update your address, phone number, changes in placement and income so that the child support agency can provide you more efficient and effective case management services.