Frequently Asked Questions
We reside together, why is the agency involved in my case?
When a public assistance case is opened it may be referred to the Child Support Agency. If you are living together and paternity has been established for your child, you will need to confirm with the Economic Support division that all parties are listed as household members.If it is determined that one of the parents is absent from the home, or the parties are not married but have a child together and paternity has not been established, the case will be referred. This is necessary to offset the cost of assistance support by the taxpayers of the State of Wisconsin. The Child Support Agency will move forward with establishing an order until all parties are reported in the Economic Support case or until paternity has been established for every child that receives public assistance.
I am currently receiving medical assistance but I recently separated from my spouse and we are not sure if we will be filing for divorce. My spouse gives me cash every week and we do not want the Child Support Agency involved. Am I required to cooperate with the Child Support Unit when they contact me or schedule an appointment?
Yes, you must cooperate with the Child Support Unit if you are receiving medical assistance from the State of Wisconsin. Wisconsin law and the court insist that as long as the non-custodial parent does not reside with you then we must enter an order, even if you do not want the Child Support Unit involved. The medical benefits that you are receiving from the State of Wisconsin will be stopped if you fail to cooperate.
My ex-wife/girlfriend is no longer receiving public assistance. Why are you still enforcing the order?
It doesn’t matter if the custodial parent is receiving public assistance. If there is an order, we are required to enforce that order so long as it is in effect. The custodial parent, that is no longer receiving public assistance, may fill out a form to stop our services if there are no AFDC or W2 expenses remaining on the case. Please note that the form does not stop the child support, it only stops enforcement. In order for the child support to stop, parties will need to change the court order. You can contact an attorney or file Pro Se (which means do-it-yourself) with the Vernon County Clerk of Courts.
I was divorced in Vernon County, I called the Child Support Unit and was told I do not have a case. Why?
If child support was ordered in your divorce action, your case is a non-IV-D (NIVD) case which means you either represented yourself in your divorce action or you had a private attorney. It also means you never received public assistance for your child(ren). The Wisconsin Support Collections Trust Fund (WI SCTF) will receipt and disburses payments however the Vernon County Department of Human Services, Child Support Unit will not enforce you order(s) unless you apply for our services. See our “How To…” section for information on how to apply.
The non-custodial parent moved and I had to tell my caseworker. Why do I need to report this to my case worker? Don't they already have the information?
Often times the custodial parent will learn information about the non-custodial parent before the caseworker will hear the information. Sometimes the locate tools provided to and used by the Child Support Unit can take time to report the new information. Both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent are court ordered to report all changes in employers, address and phone numbers within 10 days. The custodial parent should report any new information to us to as soon as possible so the information can be processed.
What if I lose my job?
1. By law, you must tell your child support agency within ten (10) days if you lose your job, if your income changes, if you get a new job. These new circumstances will not change your court ordered payment amounts until a court revises your order.
2. Your court order for support continues after a job loss--only a court can change an order.
3. If child support payments were taken out of your paycheck, child support payments will now be withheld from your Unemployment Insurance checks.
4. If your job loss is expected to last longer than 6 to 8 weeks, you can ask to have your court order reviewed for a possible change. THIS IS NOT AUTOMATIC!
I am unable to work due to an injury. Can my child support be suspended?
Only the court can change the child support obligation through a new a court order. The Child Support Agency will not bring a motion to terminate your support, however you have the ability to bring a motion yourself. For more information on pro se visit Wisconsin Court System at Wisconsin Court System - Court services - For the public - Self-help law center (wicourts.gov). The Vernon County Department of Human Services Child Support Unit requires medical documentation to support your inability to work. Contact us at (608) 637-5335 to request an Inability to Work form by mail or click here. The form must be completed by your doctor and include supporting documentation. Providing the completed Inability to Work form and documentation completed by your doctor will not end the support obligation however the Child Support Agency will not enforce payments of your obligations. It is very important that you provide updated information regarding your medical condition every 3 months and keep your case worker informed of any disability, worker’s compensation or social security benefits you receive.
My employer is withholding child support from my paychecks but they are not sending in the payments? What can I do?
You are responsible for making your child support payments. If you discover that your employer has withheld payments but you are not receiving credit to your account be sure to keep copies of your paystubs to prove the child support payments were deducted from your check by your employer. Contact your case worker as they may then take action against the employer for failure to send the payments.
It is difficult for me to obtain employment because of my past criminal record. How can I pay the child support ordered when I cannot get a job?
We understand that criminal history both past and present may cause a roadblock in obtaining employment. There are many resources available that may be able to help you.
- Workforce Connections https://www.workforceconnections.org/vernon.html
- Job Center https://jobcenterofwisconsin.com/
- Job Fairs – La Crosse
Why does paternity need to be established for my child?
A child born outside of marriage will not have a legal father unless a paternity acknowledgment form is filled out and filed with the vital statistics office or paternity is established through a court hearing.
It is in the best interest of the child to have paternity established as it creates the legal relationship between a child and his or her father, gives the child inheritance rights, access to future benefits through the father (social security, veterans benefits, etc.), and access to the medical history of the father.
If you receive any public assistance for your child, the State of Wisconsin requires you to cooperate with paternity establishment efforts. Failure to cooperate may result in your benefits being sanctioned.
I'm not sure the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement is right for me.
Our office will explain to both parents the consequences of signing this form. If you wish to have genetic testing done before signing this form, our office can assist in setting up that testing.
There is a separate procedure for obtaining support orders once the form is completed. If you are receiving W2 benefits, your case will automatically be referred for order establishment. If either parent does not wish to sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment for any reason, the department may be able to file a paternity establishment case.
How does the father's name get on the birth certificate?
When a child is born to a married woman, the husband's name goes on the birth certificate of the child. If the mother and father are not married, the man's name will not be put on the birth certificate until he becomes the legal father.
He can become the legal father through the filing of the state's Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form, or through a paternity court action. When a paternity judgment is ordered, the department will notify Wisconsin’s Division of Vital Statistics and the adjudicated father's name will be put on the birth certificate
What if the mother is married, but her husband is not the father of her child?
When a child is born while a mother is married, Wisconsin law considers the husband to be the father, and this is known as marital presumption. If the mother is claiming that her husband is not the father and is naming someone else, the marital presumption must be overcome before another man can be found to be the child’s father. You must contact an attorney or file Pro Se (which means do-it-yourself) with the Vernon County Clerk of Courts.
I may be the father of a child born to a woman who is not married. Can I ask the department to start a paternity case?
Yes, a possible father can apply for services to establish paternity of a non-marital child. If you live in Vernon County, call (608)-637-5335 to schedule an appointment.
How can paternity be established?
Paternity can be established at any time after the birth of the child. In Wisconsin, there are 3 ways to establish paternity:
First, the mother and father can legally agree to the paternity of the father if there is no question as to who the father is and the mother is not married. To accomplish this, the mother and father must sign a special State form called the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment. Contact the child support agency for assistance if you would like to sign this form.
Second, the child support agency can file a legal action to establish paternity. Both the mother and father are notified of the case and have the opportunity to appear in court. Either party can ask for genetic tests before paternity is decided.
Third, if parents of a child marry after the birth of the child, paternity can be established through the use of the State's Legitimation form. The child support office can provide you with this form.
How do I schedule a paternity interview?
To request an appointment for paternity establishment services, call 608-637-5335.
Who can help me with custody, placement & visitation questions?
The Vernon County Department of Human Services, Child Support Unit cannot assist with custody, placement or visitation issues. You must contact an attorney or file Pro Se (which means do-it-yourself) with the Vernon County Clerk of Courts.
What happens if I have my child(ren) more than the court ordered agreement and I want my support reviewed?
Physical Placement is one of the measures used by the Child Support Unit in a review for modification of support. When the Vernon County Department of Human Services, Child Support Unit reviews a child support order we will default to the most recent order addressing physical placement of the child(ren). If there has been a change in the physical placement of the child(ren) we recommend updating the placement order prior to requesting a review. If order to meet the requirements for a shared placement payer, the paying parent must have the child(ren) in their home at least 25% of the time. Click here for a shared placement calculator. Parents with shared placement will assume the child’s basic support costs in proportion to each’s parent share of placement. Basic support costs refer to the food, shelter, clothing, transportation and personal care of the child(ren). In addition to the basic support costs each parent will be responsible for the variable expenses, which refer to the reasonable costs above basic support costs, such as child care, tuition, a child’s special needs, sports equipment, activity fees, etc. Any costs for uncovered medical or dental expenses are always split equally between the parents.
I am concerned that the custodial parent is neglecting my child(ren) and may be abusing them? Will the Child Support Unit help me?
If you believe that your child(ren) are being neglected or abused, contact the county social services where your child(ren) live. Protective services handle such issues which are separate from child support.
What types of cases are appropriate for order establishment?
If the parents have never been married, paternity must be established before the court can order child support to be paid. If the parents are married, the child support agency can file a legal action to compel the absent parent to support the family.
If a divorce has already been filed in Vernon County, the child support agency can file a motion within the divorce asking the court to set a support order. If you already have a Vernon County paternity or divorce case with no current support order, the child support agency can file a motion to ask that support be set if the circumstances have changed substantially since the last time the support issue was addressed by the court.
For example, if your ex-spouse was not working the last time the case was in court, no child support may have been ordered. If he or she is now working, we may be able to seek a support order at this time. If the parents were never married, but signed and filed a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form, the child support agency can file an action to compel the absent parent to support the child.
I no longer want to receive child support from the other parent. How can I stop my support order?
If you receive public assistance such as TANF benefits including W-2, Care Taker Supplement or Child Care assistance, we are required to get a court order for child support to offset the cost to the taxpayers for the public assistance. If you are only receiving medical assistance such as Badgercare, an order for the child support to be held open may be entered. If you are concerned that the other parent may cause harm to you or the child, you should contact the Economic Support division in your county and discuss filing a Good Cause Claim. If Good Cause is granted the Child Support Unit would not pursue establishment of an order. Please contact the Child Support Unit to find out more details on your case and whether you would be eligible to have the child support ended.
My parental rights have been terminated by the court. Why am I still receiving billing statements?
You must provide the Child Support Unit with a copy of the order terminating your parental rights. Based upon the order terminating your parental rights, we will seek to terminate your current support order. Please note that you are still responsible for any arrears, costs and interest on your case that accrued prior to your parental rights being terminated. You will continue to receive billing notices until all debts are paid in full.
My Child has graduated from high school - how do I stop my support order?
Wisconsin law requires you to pay child support until your child turns eighteen and graduates from high school, or, until your child turns nineteen, whichever is later. If your child is eighteen and has graduated from high school, you should provide proof of graduation to the child support agency.
My child(ren) were placed in foster care or kinship care. The money I was receiving from the other parent is now going to the State of Wisconsin. I received paperwork from the Child Support Unit advising they will be establishing an order for me to pay support and they are requesting my financial information. Why do I need to pay support if you are already getting support from the other parent?
All parents have a duty and obligation to support their child(ren) no matter who or where the child(ren) are residing. The law states that both parents are individually liable for support a child placed in substitute care.
The other parent will not let me see my child(ren). Why should I pay child support?
Child support and placement/visitation of the child(ren) are separate issues. Wisconsin law has drawn a definite line between the two issues to prevent the children from being punished due to disagreeing parents. The Child Support Unit does not have the authority to address custody, placement and visitation issues. You are required to pay support as court ordered to be in compliance with the order. If you are being denied your placement rights, you must contact your local family court commissioner. You may be referred to mediation.
I do not want a Notice of Income Withholding to go to my employer. Can I pay the custodial parent directly?
Any payments made directly to the custodial parent are considered a cash gift. In order for you to receive credit for the payments you make it must be paid through the Wisconsin Support Collections Trust Fund (WI SCTF). Income withholding is mandatory in the State of Wisconsin, it is convenient to both parents and it reduces the possibility of late payments and arrearages.
Self-employed paying parents do not participate in income withholding and are required to send their payments to the WI SCTF to receive proper credit.
When will I know if the non-custodial parent has made a payment? Will I receive notification?
Any participants inquiring about payments received and disbursed by the Wisconsin Support Collections Trust Fund (WI SCTF) can contact the WISCTF via phone 1-800-991-5530 or you can sign up for the child support online services at https://csos.wisconsin.gov/login .
The child(ren) are now living with me. Why am I still paying support to the other parent?
The order for child support will continue until the Court suspends the obligation and modifies the placement order. You may contact an attorney or file Pro Se (which means do-it-yourself) with the Vernon County Clerk of Courts. Please be sure to provide a copy of any court orders to the Child Support Unit.
The money I pay to the custodial parent for support is not spent on my child(ren). What can you do about it?
Money that a parent spends on food, housing, utilities, etc. are all expenses that are shared with the children. If you are concerned that your child(ren) are not being adequately clothed, fed and housed, you may contact the county social services agency where your child(ren) live. Neither the State of Wisconsin nor the federal government have jurisdiction over how child support payments are spent!
I have more than one child to support by court order. Will there be a difference in the amount sent to each custodial parent?
If a payer has more than one family to support or more than one support-related obligation, the payments will be pro-rated across the payers’ cases. Payments are distributed first to the families with minor children for current support and then additional amounts are distributed to child support arrears or other support-related debts. Therefore payees may notice a difference in the amount they receive and the timing of these payments.
Where can I obtain information on enforcing the uninsured medical expenses that are owed?
The Vernon County Department of Human Services, Child Support Unit does not handle issues in regards to the uninsured medical expenses that the other parent will not pay. In order to address the issue, you will need to file a motion to go before the Judge or Family Court Commissioner.
How do I obtain copies of my court order(s)?
Copies of court orders can be obtained from the Clerk of Courts Office in the county where the order was established. If you had an order in another state you will need to contact the state where the orders were established. You may contact an attorney or file Pro Se (which means do-it-yourself) with the Vernon County Clerk of Courts.
I am making payments on my child support arrears. Why are my taxes still being intercepted?
Under state and federal law, once arrears have been certified for tax intercept, they remain certified and refunds will be intercepted until the outstanding amounts are paid in full, even if payments are being made.
I am married and my spouse's refund is being intercepted for my child support arrears because we filed a joint tax return. How can we avoid this in the future?
You will need to file an “injured spouse” claim at the time you file your tax return. Any and all issues relating to the injured spouse claim need to be handled through the IRS. Click here for more information.
Has an intercepted tax refund been paid on my arrears yet?
You can get tax intercept collection information by calling the KIDS Information Line 800-991-5530. You may also visit: WI SCTF
What is the fee for tax intercept service?
Tax intercept fee - the parent receiving a tax refund intercept must pay 10% of any collection of $10 or more, but not more than $25. It is taken out of the intercepted refund.
I received a notice that my taxes were intercepted but my recent billing statement does not reflect the payment. Where did my money go?
You will receive a notice from the IRS or Department of Revenue that your tax refund has been intercepted. The State of Wisconsin Child Support system usually receives the intercepted tax monies 4-6 weeks after you receive the notice.
I want to sell a vehicle. How do I know if my name is on the Child Support Lien Docket?
A lien is automatically created when you have an arrears balance of $500.00 or more. To find out more information regarding child support liens, click here.
I am not getting my child support but I want him to sit in jail. Is there anything I can do to have the non-custodial parent arrested?
The Child Support Unit has many steps to enforcing a court order and we can’t just have the Sheriff’s Department arrest them without due process and obtaining a court order. Before a non-custodial parent can be arrested they must either be found in contempt of court or unable to be located in order to serve them. We will begin our enforcement actions with two separate warning letters. If we do not get any response from the enforcement letters the case will be evaluated for further enforcement actions.
Why is there a warrant for my arrest when I am making child support payments?
If you begin making payments when there is an active warrant for your arrest, you must contact the Child Support Unit immediately to negotiate an agreement to have the commitment vacated. A warrant is not automatically vacated.
You are still taking child support from my checks but my child is now 25 years old. How can you do that?
You must have an arrears balance, which means you did not pay all of the child support court ordered when the child was a minor. You can contact your case worker for more information. Income withholding will remain in place until all court obligations are paid in full. The KIDS system will only disburse the monies that are due and no more. Should you end up with an overpayment, it will be refunded to you.
What should I do if I do not think I owe any back support?
You may request payment records from the WI SCTF for the current year to date and the full previous year. Any older payment records will come from the Child Support Unit. One you receive the payment records you can compare them with your own records to determine if the balance of back support is accurate. Please contact the Child Support Unit if you feel there is an error so we may discuss the possible reasons for any discrepancies. You must provide evidence that supports your belief of an error. The Child Support Unit will then review the case to determine if there is in fact an error.
What is the Receipt & Disbursement fee and why do I have to pay it?
Under Wisconsin law, the parent paying support is charged $65.00 for processing and maintaining the payment records on your child support case. This fee is charged each year on each court case. This fee is charged January 1st each year.
What is the Annual Custodial Parent fee?
After October 1st each year the Custodial Parent (CP) is charged a $35.00 fee after the case receives $550.00 or more in support. For collection purposes, the system follows the federal fiscal year which runs from October 1st to September 30th each year. The fee will automatically be taken out of a support payment prior to the payment being disbursed to the CP. If another state is providing you with child support services, the other state charges and collects the annual fee.
How do I request a review of my child support order?
Contact the child support agency handling your case to request a review of your child support order if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the last order was entered. Some examples of a substantial change in circumstances are:
1.The court changes a child’s placement from one parent to the other
2. The paying parent receives a raise that would lead to an increase of more than 15% and $50 per month
3. The parent receiving support begins to receive public assistance benefits and the order is old or no support was ordered
4. The paying parent becomes incapacitated and can no longer work. A review is the process of checking a child support order to see if it needs to be modified.
A modification of the order can result in an increase, a decrease or no change at all. Both parents will be mailed notice of the review and are required to provide current financial information to the child support agency. The child support agency and child support attorneys who appear at hearings represent the interests of the State of Wisconsin—they do not represent either parent.
The non-custodial parent is remarried and the new spouse makes a lot more money. Can I have my case reviewed so child support is based on the spouse's income too?
No. The biological parents of the child are responsible for supporting the child. Wisconsin law states that a step-parent has no legal responsibility to support the child(ren) of their new spouse.
Does a modification or adjustment always increase the current child support order?
No. A modification the child support order could increase, decrease or remain the same.
How do I get my child support order changed?
A court order can only be changed by a new court order. Below are a few ways you could seek a modification…
- If it has been more than three years since your last order was reviewed or entered, you can contact the Child Support Unit and request a review of your case. If it has been less than three years since your last review or order was entered a support order may be reviewed if there are substantial changes in the circumstances. Once a review has been completed, both parties will receive written communication as to the results.
- You may hire a private attorney for this process.
- You can take the case to court on your own by filing pro se with the Clerk of Courts.
4. If both parties agree, you can file a Stipulation to Change (FA-604A) and the Order to Change (FA-604B). In order to use this form, both parties must agree to all areas being modified. Once the documents are completed, provide them to the Vernon County Department of Human Services Child Support Unit for further processing.
Why am I still receiving billing statements when my child is over 19?
You will continue to be billed for any missed child support payments (arrears) or any fees or expenses that have been ordered on your case until the debts are paid in full. You will also be billed for any interest that has accrued on the arrears on your case.
How do I report a change of address or new employer?
You can call the child support agency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 608-637-5335 to leave your new information. Please remember that you must provide your full name, PIN, or Social Security Number if you are leaving the message on our voicemail. You must also provide your current telephone number in the event we need to contact you to verify the information.
When should I contact the Wisconsin Support Collections Trust Fund (WI SCTF) regarding payments?
In the State of Wisconsin, payments are processed by the Wisconsin Support Collection Trust Fund (WI SCTF). If you know your personal identification number (PIN), you can access information about the last two payments you made or received by calling 800-991-5530, or by logging onto the state website: Wisconsin Child Support Payments