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Legal Options for Collecting Back Child Support in Wisconsin

 Posted on July 13, 2021 in Family Law

shutterstock_1220724925-min.jpgSeveral years ago, a California woman made national news when she was able to collect $150,000 in back child support almost 50 years after her ex-husband fled the country in order to avoid paying his court-ordered obligation. Since there is no statute of limitations on back child support, the case sent a message to deadbeat parents everywhere that eventually, the delinquency can catch up to them. If you are having trouble collecting child support, a Waukesha County family lawyer can help.

Time to Pay Up

According to the woman in the California case, when the couple broke up in the early 1970s, her ex-husband fled to Canada in order to get out of paying child support for their then 3-year-old daughter. He had been ordered to pay $160 a month until the child reached 21. The woman raised their daughter on her own, never receiving any financial help from the child’s father.

Fifty years later, the woman decided it was time to see if she could track down the father. She discovered he was back in the U.S. and living in Oregon. She took the original support order and headed to an attorney’s office. Decades ago, the amount owed to the woman totaled approximately $35,000, but with 10 percent accrued interest, the amount owed to her was close to $170,000. The woman’s attorney was able to negotiate a settlement for $150,000, which the court approved, and the woman finally received her long-overdue child support.

Penalties for Non-Payment

In Wisconsin, family court judges take failure to pay child support very seriously, and there can be harsh penalties for failing to do so. If a parent owes more than $500 in back support, their name can be added to the Wisconsin Child Support Lien Docket. This puts a lien on any property the parent owns and prevents them from selling until the child support arrearage is satisfied. It also means that any federal or state tax refunds can be intercepted by the state and put towards the back support balance.

Wisconsin also adds an additional 12 percent interest if the parent owes more than one month of child support and this amount is included in the overall amount owed.

If a parent owes more than three months of support, their drivers’ license, as well as any professional and recreational licenses can be suspended.

Other actions that can be taken against a delinquent parent include:

  • Income withholding from the parent’s paycheck, workers’ compensation benefits, or unemployment benefits

  • Notice of delinquency released to credit bureaus

  • Seizing property

  • Seizing bank and retirement accounts

  • Blocking access to any federal benefits, including small business loans, food stamps, etc.

In some cases, the judge will hold the non-paying parent in contempt of court and order the parent to jail until some or all of the back support is paid. If the actions of the non-paying parent are especially egregious, the case may be turned over to prosecutors for charges. Penalties for conviction of criminal nonsupport include jail times and fines.

Contact a Waukesha County Family Law Attorney for Help

If you are owed back child support, you do not have to go through the struggle of collecting these funds alone. At Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, our Waukesha, WI child support attorneys are dedicated to using all methods available to get deadbeat parents to pay what they owe. Call our office today at 262-232-6699 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.



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