Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cost for your services?

There is no fee. However, a fee may be charged for some specialized child support services.

Are there fees for Interstate cases?
Interstate case enforcement fee - other states may charge a fee for enforcing a case in their state The other state sets the fee and may charge either parent. The interstate section will contact you if you need to pay any of these fees.
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.
Is there a fee if I want to change my order?
The Clerk of Circuit Court charges a modification fee. You must pay the Clerk's $30 modification fee to file a modification motion to change your order. This fee may be waived if the court finds that you are unable to pay. (There is no fee if an agreement to change the order is signed by both parents.)
**IMPORTANT** Are we holding child support money owed to you?

IF YOU HAVE MOVED, PLEASE INFORM THE WISCTF or THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES OF YOUR NEW ADDRESS. To use the KIDS information Line, call:  Metro Milwaukee area (800) 991-5530, TDD (877) 209-5209 . To contact the Child Support office call (414) 278-2990 Or E-mail us at milwcse@milwaukeecountywi.gov.

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 or paternity is established through a court hearing. It is in the best interest of the child to have paternity established, as paternity establishment creates the legal relationship between a child and his or her father.  It 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 W-2, Child Care, CTS, BadgerCare Plus, Substitute Care or Kinship Care 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, unless you have good cause not to cooperate and you file a Good Cause Claim.

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:

1.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. This form is available in the intake area of Child Support, Room 101 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

2.The Department of Child Support Services can file legal proceedings for 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.

3.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. This form is also available in Room 101.

I'm not sure the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement is right for me.
Our office will explain to 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 such testing. If paternity is established this way, no support obligation or visitation arrangement is established. 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 do I schedule a paternity interview.
To request an appointment for paternity establishment services please call (414) 278-5200.
What should I bring to the Paternity Interview
Please bring information concerning the absent parent, including address, social security number, date of birth, place of employment, and any other information that will be helpful in locating the absent parent. You will also need to know facts about your child's birth (such as birth weight and the name of the hospital where the child was born).
How long does an interview take?
The length of time of an interview will vary. It could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes per child.
How do I get a court date to get paternity established?

There are two ways a case can be set up for a court hearing:

1. A paralegal may start a paternity action at the same time as the interview if we have an address for the other parent that can be independently verified. All the legal documents would be prepared immediately and a hearing would be scheduled. In this case, you will be served with your legal documents at the interview. This includes a copy of your affidavit, summons, and petition. These documents will state the date, time, and location of hearing.

2. If there is no independent verification of the other parent's address, the paralegal will verify the address after the interview, and you will be notified of a hearing date at a later time. You will receive a letter informing you that a case has been started. This letter will give you the opportunity to come to the courthouse and pick up your legal documents. If you do not come to the courthouse, you will be served with the documents by our service of process agency.

What happens at the paternity court hearing?

The hearing is held in a small, private room. The mother, the man who may be the father, the court commissioner, and the child support attorney will be there. The child support attorney represents the State of Wisconsin, not the mother or father. The mother or father may bring his or her own attorney. Factual information will be discussed and verified. Once this is done, the parties will have the opportunity to either admit or deny that the man is the father of the child. There are several possible outcomes:

1.The man may admit to being the father. A judgment will be entered and he is legally adjudicated as the father. Custody, placement, and support orders may be made.

2. The man may admit that he is the father subject to genetic testing. The mother, child and the man will be scheduled for genetic testing and a new court date will be scheduled.

3. If the man denies that he is the father, genetic testing will be ordered for the mother, child, and man. Another court date is scheduled.

4. If there is more than one man who could be the biological father genetic testing will be ordered.

What happens if the other parent is not served with the paternity documents?
If, at the time of the first hearing, a party has not been served with the court papers, the family court commissioner may grant an extension for service and the hearing will be adjourned to a later date. If an extension has already been granted and service of the papers cannot be completed, the case may be dismissed (although it may be restarted when the absent parent is located). If the commissioner finds that the person who can't be served with papers is trying to avoid service, an order for that person's arrest may be made.
What if the man alleged to be the father is served, but doesn't show up for the hearing?

Various things can happen if the potential father has been served, but does not show up for the hearing:

  1.  If there is only one possible father the Family Court Commissioner may find him to be the father (called a default judgment of paternity). The decision whether to enter a default judgment is made on a case-by-case basis based upon the factual circumstances.
  2. An Order for Arrest may be issued for the party who does not appear.
  3. An extension to serve the party may be granted and the case may be adjourned to a later date. Notice will be given to both parties to appear at this new time
What if you know the other party will not show up for a hearing - should you go?

Yes. It is always in your best interest to go to all paternity establishment court hearings. If you do not show up, you run the risk of the case being dismissed, a warrant being issued for you, or orders being entered without your input.

My state benefits have been sanctioned. - How can I get my sanction lifted?

The paternity establishment area in Room 101 takes walk-ins for sanctions Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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 (this is called the marital presumption). If the mother states that her husband is not the father and is naming someone else, this marital presumption must be overcome before another man can be found to be the child’s father. When a paternity case is started in this situation, the law requires that the husband be notified of the court date, time and location. The notice is sent to the husband by certified mail. If he wishes to claim that the child is his, he must appear for the court hearing. An attorney called a guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed by the court to represent the child’s best interest and after an investigation, recommends to the court if the marital presumption should be overcome. Genetic testing may be requested by the GAL and may be ordered by the court.

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 request an appointment for a paternity interview. Call (414) 278-5200 to schedule an appointment.
What if I want to get paternity established but the child was born in another state? Can paternity be established in Wisconsin?

If paternity was established in the other state, paternity cannot be established in Wisconsin. If you are not sure if paternity was established in the other state, we will contact the other state and request that they check their records to see if paternity has been established there. If paternity was not established in the other state, the paralegal will decide, based on information you provide, whether we are able to start a Wisconsin case or if we need to start an interstate case.

What makes a case an interstate case?
If the possible father lives in another state and has never been to Wisconsin to visit, live, vacation, etc., the State of Wisconsin does not have jurisdiction and an interstate case must be started. If the possible father has enough contact with Wisconsin to justify starting a case here, we will start a case. Whether there has been enough contact with Wisconsin is a legal decision that is made by our staff before the case is filed.
What is a good cause claim?
If a mother believes that the establishment of paternity is not in her or her child's best interest, she can claim good cause for not cooperating with our office. Examples of good cause are situations where the child is born as a result of rape, incest, or sexual assault, or where the mother fears that having paternity established may bring physical harm to herself or the child. A good cause claim is filed with your economic support worker, not with Child Support Enforcement. The economic worker will review the claim and the facts associated with it and then make a determination of whether or not to grant good cause
Can paternity be established if the possible father has died?

It may be possible to get paternity established, but this must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Helpful information to gather before an interview to determine the possibility of establishing paternity includes but is not limited to, a copy of the death certificate or facts such as where, when and how the person died. Also, the names and addresses of relatives of the deceased such as parents, brothers or sisters will assist in establishing paternity.

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 Madison's Center for Health Statistics and the adjudicated father's name will be put on the birth certificate
What types of cases are appropriate for order establishment?

If the parents have never been married, paternity must be established either by voluntary paternity acknowledgement or paternity judgment before a support order can be made. If the parents are married, the department can file a legal action to compel the absent parent to support the family. If a divorce has already been filed in Milwaukee County, the department can file a motion within the divorce asking the court to set a support order. If you already have a Milwaukee County paternity, action to compel support or divorce case with no current support order, the department can file a motion to ask that support be set if circumstances have changed substantially since the last time the support issue was in court. For example, if the absent parent 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 a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form, the department can file an action to compel the absent parent to support the child. If an order needs to be established but the absent parent has never lived in Wisconsin, the order may need to be established by the interstate unit of the department.

What happens when I apply for order establishment services?

Your completed application packet is reviewed by a paralegal. Address and employment information of the absent parent is verified through the Post Office and through the absent parent's employer.  When this information has been received an action is filed with the court.

How long will it take before I get a support order?
That depends on a how long it takes to verify the necessary information and what court calendar time is available. To check on the status of your case you can call (414) 278-5160.
How does customer service work?

The customer service unit responds to the telephone, fax and e-mail inquires from the public. We receive in excess of 20,000 inquires per month. When you call the department, you are given several menu options to choose from. Child support case information can only be released to participants of the case. For information about payments you can go online at childsupport.wisconsin.gov or you can contact the WI SCTF at 1-800-991-5530.

The number always seems to be busy - when is the best time to call?

The best time to contact our office is Wednesday through Friday in the afternoon. You may also contact us by fax at 414-223-1865 or e-mail at milwcse@milwaukeecountywi.gov.

Can I talk to my case manager?
A customer service representative answers all telephone calls. Our office design allows the customer service representative full access to your child support case. When any action is taken on your case this event is recorded in our database called KIDS. The customer service area works closely with the individual units of the department, which allows us to give you case status information immediately.
I know the absent parent is working but he or she is not paying - what should I do?

You should contact us if you need enforcement of your order. If there has been no payment for one month we will begin enforcement action. The absent parent will be sent a letter notifying them they are not in compliance with the court order, and you will receive a copy. The enforcement case manager will review the case to determine if a contempt action is appropriate. If a contempt action is appropriate, a pro se contempt packet will be mailed to you to fill out and return for a contempt court date.

 

One of the most effective ways to enforce a child support order is for us to send a notice for income withholding to the payer’s employer. If you have applied for child support services we will seek out new employment information and send out an income withholding notice when we find such employment for the payer. If you have not applied for our services or are not receiving qualifying benefits there will be a $50 fee for each income withholding notice we send out. We will only send a new income withholding notice when you provide the name of the absent parent’s employer. You can report new employment by calling 414-278-5160, option 2. You can also fax the information to 414-223-1865 or send it by e-mail to milwcse@milwaukeecountywi.gov.

How long does it take for support to be paid when a new income withholding notice is sent?
Payments should begin in two to four weeks. This amount of time allows for mailing to the employer, payroll processing, and mailing of the payment to the Wisconsin Support Collections Trust Fund (WI SCTF). Absent parents should begin making payments directly to WI SCTF until money is deducted from their paychecks. If you do not receive payments within 30 days of the date an income withholding notice was sent, contact customer service.
How can I collect back child support?
Support arrears are most frequently collected through the tax refund intercept program or by a court order for monthly payments on arrears. It may also be possible to collect past-due support through a variety of administrative enforcement measures, such as administrative income withholding, license suspension and financial account seizure.
What do I do if I have a support order, but now my child receives social security benefits based upon my disability or retirement?
You may file a motion with the family court commissioner's office to adjust your support order or you may apply to our department for review and adjustment services.
My child has graduated from high school - how do I stop my support order?

Your child support order will terminate on the last day of the month of the child’s 18th birthday, or high school graduation date, whichever is later.  If your child graduates after their 18th birthday, the department must be provided a letter from the high school on school letterhead stating the date of graduation to stop the order effective the date of graduation.  In any event, child support orders will not extend beyond a child’s 19th birthday, even if the child is still in high school.

I was ordered to pay child support in a paternity case, but the mother and I have now married. How do I stop the support order?
Provide the department with a certified copy of your marriage certificate. We will ask the family court commissioner's office to stop the support order. You will still be obligated to pay any arrears, costs, fees, expenses and debts owed to the State of Wisconsin that were charged to your case prior to the marriage. If arrears are owed to the mother, she may provide us with a notarized statement asking that those arrears be canceled.
I no longer want to receive enforcement services from the department - how do I refuse service?

You may withdraw your application for child support services so long as you do not receive W-2, Child Care, CTS, BadgerCare Plus, Substitute Care and Kinship Care.  This will remove the case from Lien Docket, Credit Bureau and Tax Intercept.  Contact us and request a "Withdrawal from Services" form.

I no longer want to receive child support from the other parent - how can I stop my child support order?

You can only stop your child support order if you do not receive public benefits, including W-2, Child Care, BadgerCare Plus, Substitute Care, Kinship Care and Caretaker Supplement. If you do not receive public benefits, you may sign a stipulation and order form with the other parent and send it to the family court commissioner in Room 707 for approval. Stipulation and order forms may be picked up in Room 707 of the Courthouse.

My parental rights were terminated at a Children's Court hearing - Why am I still receiving billing statements?

You must provide the Department of Child Support Services with a copy of the order terminating your parental rights for the current support obligation on your case to be stopped. You will continue to be responsible for any arrears, costs, and interest on your case that accrued before your parental rights were terminated. You will receive billing notices until all debts are paid in full.

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. Can this be prevented?

Your spouse should contact the IRS and file an "injured spouse" claim. Any and all issues relating to the injured spouse claim need to be handled through the IRS .

Has an intercepted tax refund been paid on my arrears yet?

You can get tax intercept collection information from WI SCTF by going online at childsupport.wisconsin.gov. Or, you may call 1-800-991-5530.

I don't believe I owe the arrears for which my tax refund is being intercepted. Can I get a court hearing to stop the intercept?

You have a right to a hearing on the tax intercept issue, but you must request a hearing within 20 days of receiving notice of the tax refund intercept. You can request a hearing by walking into our office in Room 101 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse and picking up a hearing request form, or calling (414) 278-5160 and asking us to mail you a form.

The absent parent has other cases. How much money will I get from tax intercept?

The department of child support never knows how much the absent parent’s refund will be.  We can only tell the amount of arrears that were certified for tax intercept purposes.  Federal law mandates the manner in which tax intercept money is distributed. Currently federal tax intercept collections will first pay state owed debts.  Effective October 1, 2009, federal tax intercept will pay out to the families first in the same hierarchy that is used to distribute State tax payments.  State tax intercept money will go to the family first.  State tax intercept money is distributed first to current support then arrears.  If there is more than one family involved, the payment will be pro-rated between the cases and the money will first pay current support. If all families have a current support order, the payment will be pro-rated between all cases.

What do I do if a tax intercept check was mailed to me but is lost?

You should contact the Wisconsin Support Collection Trust Fund at 1-800-991-5530 to report any lost checks.

I have received a Notice of Lien.

Your notice tells you your options to contest the lien:

  1. You can request that the department conduct a Financial Record Review.  You must make this request within 10 business days of the date of the notice; and/or
  2. You can request a court hearing.  You must make this request within 20 business days of the date of the notice.  In Milwaukee County, you may make these requests by contacting customer service by telephone, fax or e-mail, or by walking into Room 101 of the courthouse.
I have been notified that my state or federal educational grant will not be released to me unless I get a letter from the child support agency. What do I do?

Contact the child support agency and ask to enter into an alternative payment plan.

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 1-800-991-5530, or by logging onto the state website, https://www.childsupport.wisconsin.gov/payments. You should contact the WI SCTF to see if a payment has been issued to you or a payment was applied to your account. You would also contact the WISCTF if you need a replacement for a check that was mailed to you and then lost, damaged or stolen.

My child is over 19 why am I still receiving billing statments?

You will continue to receive billing statements until your debts are paid in full.

What is the R&D fee and why do I have to pay it?

Under Wisconsin law, the receipting and disbursing (R&D) fee is the state’s charge for maintaining the payment record on a family case. The fee is $65 per year for any case that has child support, family support, maintenance, birthing or medical obligations as well as the arrears (missed payments). The court-ordered payer on the case must pay the annual fee.

I don't think that all of my payments have been reflected on my case - what can I do?
If you think that a payment you made was not applied to your case you should order the payment record for the year in which the missing payment was made. Match your copies of the payments you made (check stubs, canceled checks, etc.) to the payment record. If you find that a payment you made is not shown on your account, you should send a letter to the department stating that a payment is missing. You must include a copy of the front and back of the canceled check or copies of your check stubs as proof that the payment was made. Your letter will be investigated and your account will be corrected if the payment was received but misapplied.
How do I order Payment Records?
  1. You may receive your payment records free online by going to http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/bcs/payments/logon.htm.
  2. You may request your payment records by calling the KIDS Information Line (800) 991-5530 toll free outside the Metro Milwaukee area or (877) 209-5209 toll free TDD.
  3. You can order payment records by letter or by walking into room 101 of the Department of Child Support Services.  Your letter should include your name, court case number, the years for which you are requesting records and payment in full of our record fee.  The fee for records is $15 per case/per year.  You should also tell us whether you wish to pick up the records or have them mailed to you (in which case you should include your current address).
How do I read the payment records?
Instructions for reading the payment records will be sent to you if you order payment records.
I do not agree with the Court's decision in my case - what can I do?
When a judge or a family court commissioner rules on a case, the child support agency cannot change that ruling. Any party, including the agency, can ask a judge to review a court commissioner's decision. A judge's decision can be appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. HOWEVER, THERE ARE VERY SPECIFIC TIME LIMITS TO SEEK A REVIEW OR AN APPEAL. You may wish to immediately obtain the advice of a lawyer as to how to proceed. The Milwaukee Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral and Information Service. They can be reached at (414) 274-6768.
There is a warrant out for my arrest because I did not appear in court - how do I take care of this?

You must appear before the Family Court Commissioner during walk-in hours. The Family Court Commissioner’s office is on the 7th floor of the Milwaukee County Courthouse, 901 N. 9th Street, Milwaukee, Room 707. The walk-in hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

I have questions about custody or visitation - who can help me?

The Department of Child Support Services cannot assist you with custody and visitation matters. The Milwaukee Bar Association's Lawyer Referral and Information Service, at (414) 274-6768, may provide assistance. You may also visit the Wisconsin Family Justice Clinic for help - www.milwaukeejusticecenter.com.

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