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How Can Child Support Orders Be Enforced in Wisconsin?

 Posted on February 24, 2023 in Family Law

Waukesha County Child Support Enforcement Attorneys

If you are a divorced parent in Wisconsin who is owed child support, you may be wondering about your options for enforcing the court's orders and ensuring that the other parent provides the financial support your children need. The good news is that there are a number of methods that can be used to enforce child support orders in Wisconsin. By understanding the options available and working with an attorney to address these issues, you can take steps to ensure that your ex complies with the court's orders.

Methods of Child Support Enforcement in Wisconsin

When child support orders are put in place by a family court judge, a parent will be required to make all payments on time and in full. Any missed payments must be made up, and interest will be charged until the past-due amounts are paid off. In situations where a parent has not met their obligations, courts may take actions such as:

  • Wage withholding: In most family law cases where child support is a factor, an income withholding order will be created in which the parent's employer will be required to withhold child support payments from the parent's paycheck and send these amounts to the other parent. If a parent has not paid child support, the amount withheld from their pay may be increased until the past-due amount is paid off.

  • Tax refund offset: If the amount of child support owed is above a certain threshold ($150 in situations where a parent receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or $500 in other cases), the state can intercept the parent's federal and state tax refunds and use them to pay off the debt.

  • Child support liens: If a parent who owes child support owns property such as a house or a car, the other parent can place a lien on that property. Liens may be used when the amount of past-due support is at least $500. When a lien is in place, and the parent tries to sell the property, the lien must be paid off before the sale can be completed.

  • License suspension: In some cases, the court may order the suspension of the non-custodial parent's driver's license if he or she falls behind on child support payments. Suspensions may also be imposed on professional licenses needed to work in certain fields, as well as recreational licenses such as hunting or fishing licenses. Because these suspensions may affect a parent's ability to work or complete daily activities, they can be an effective way to ensure that they take steps to pay the child support they owe.

  • Federal enforcement actions: When a parent owes a significant amount of child support, the federal government may deny the issuance of a passport, or it may not allow them to receive certain types of loans or grants.

  • Contempt of court: If a parent has willfully refused to comply with their court-ordered child support obligations, meaning that they have failed to pay child support even when they had the means to do so, they may be found in contempt of court. This could result in fines, jail time, or other penalties.

  • Criminal charges: In some cases, a parent may be charged with the crime of "failure to support" because they have intentionally failed to pay child support as required. Failure to pay support for 120 consecutive days or more is a Class I felony, and if convicted, a person may be sentenced to up to three years and six months in prison, and they may be required to pay a fine of up to $10,000. Failure to pay support for less than 120 consecutive days is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a prison sentence of up to nine months.

Contact Our Waukesha County Child Support Enforcement Attorneys

If you are a divorced parent who is owed child support in Wisconsin, there are a number of methods available to you to help ensure that you receive payments as ordered by the court. At Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, our Brookfield child support lawyers can help you understand your options, and we will work with you to take the correct steps to enforce the court's orders. Contact our office today at 262-232-6699 to discuss these issues in a free consultation.


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