The following services are provided by the Racine County Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE):
- Locating an absent parent
- Establishment of Paternity (determining who the father of the child is)
- Requesting the court to order child support
- Enforcing existing child support orders
Contacting employees to set up income withholding
Collect child support from a parent in another state
Review current orders for a possible modification
Tax and lottery intercept payments
- Provide payment and collection information
It is important to establish paternity for a child. When paternity is established, the child is entitled to child support, medical insurance, and inheritance rights. In addition, the child could be eligible for social security benefits or veterans benefits if the father died or became disabled. Paternity establishment also ensures that a child has access to the family medical health history. It also affords the father his rights to custody and placement issues.
Paternity can be determined if:
- Both parents have signed and filed a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement or,
- The court adjudicates paternity.
If there are questions about who the father is, genetic testing will be done. If the test establishes a probability of paternity of 99% or higher, the alleged father is presumed to be the father.
The OCSE does not make recommendations or participate in the decision process for custody of the children involved. Family Court will determine, either by your agreement or by the courts determination through a legal hearing, which parent(s) should have legal custody of the Child(ren). Legal custody of a child gives one or both of the parents the right to make decisions concerning the child.
When the court enters a custody order, it must allocate periods of placement between parents. The court will designate one parent for primary placement, which means the child spends a majority of time living with that parent, while the other parent will get secondary placement, formerly known as visitation.
It is important for parents to understand that placement and child support are separate and independent of one another. Periods of placement will not be denied because child support is not being paid nor can a parent refuse to pay support because visitation with the child is being interfered with or denied. The OCSE cannot control issues of placement. Only the Courts have the authority to rule and enforce placement and visitation issues.
Court Ordered Child Support
Wisconsin Courts use the Percentage of Income standard outlined in the HSS80 Administrative Codes as a guideline for determining child support payments. The standard assumes that both parents will share part (a percentage) of their income with their children when they live together, or when they live apart.
The percentage of income standard requires a non-custodial parent to pay:
- 17% of the paying parents gross income for one child
- 25% for two children
- 29% for three children
- 31% for four children
- 34% for five or more children.
The Administrative Codes also provides guidelines for setting support if the parent ordered to pay support have children in more than one family or where placement is shared or split between both parents.
Gross income includes wages, salaries, earnings, tips, interest, capital gains, commissions and bonuses. Also included in gross income are workers compensation and any other income a person may have that are intended to replace regular income.
Enforcing Child Support Orders
The child support network is structured to allow child support payments to reach the needs of the children as readily as possible. Withholding child support payments from the paying parent's paycheck is the easiest and most effective way to collect child support. Child Support Payments, as well as court ordered health insurance premiums can be withheld from most sources of income, including some forms of Social Security income.
The OCSE is also required to report non-custodial parents who are delinquent in child support to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the State Department of Revenue (DOR) once the arrears have met the required threshold. The IRS and DOR will withhold money for overdue payments for tax refunds from any due tax return and forward the payment to the State of Wisconsin for distribution to the appropriate child support account(s). .
Any collection from a federal joint tax return is held six months before it is can be sent to a custodial parent. Collections from individual federal tax returns and State of Wisconsin returns are held five days before they are disbursed to the custodial parent.
Child Support Programs may also seek an administrative lien to seize real and personal property, against non-custodial parents who owe back support and have met the required threshold. The suspension of driver and recreational license's is another enforcement tool available to the Child Support Program. The liens are attached to the payer and to any property the payer currently owns or may own in the future. The State of Wisconsin has set threshold levels for implementing the lien program and could affect property such as land and structures, titled recreational vehicles, motor vehicles and financial institutional accounts. The lien docket threshold amount is $500.00.
When a payer is 30 days or greater behind in child support payments, court action may be considered. Court enforcement action includes an Order to Show Cause being filed and heard before the Judge which may result in charges of contempt.
Child Support services are only as effective as the participants involved are willing to cooperate with the Child Support office by providing reliable and current information. To adequately establish and enforce orders we rely on the information you provide.
Please keep in mind that matters of legal custody and physical placement (visitation) are separate from the financial support of Children. The OCSE has no authority to create or enforce custody and visitation orders; therefore, you must contact the Family Court Commissioner's office or a private attorney for assistance in settling custody and placement issues.
Out of State Order Enforcement
In the event you have a child support order which originated in another state and you are not receiving payments, you may contact the OCSE for assistance. In these types of situations we will draft the necessary paperwork required to begin enforcement in that state. In order for us to process the necessary paper work with the other state, you will be required to provide a certified copy of your court order. In the event you do not have a certified copy, one will have to be obtained before interstate enforcement action can begin.