How to Remove an Invalid Child Support Property Lien

By Anna Assad

A child support lien gives the payee interest in the payer's property. The lien, filed by the agency collecting the support, is meant to secure payment of past-due support. If the child support office made a mistake and filed an invalid child support lien, the payer must get the lien released.

Creation

Once support arrears reach a certain amount or the support payments are a specific number of months behind, as defined by state laws, the support agency may file a lien against the payer's personal property or real estate. The agency might file the lien automatically or at the request of the support receiver. The paperwork, usually prepared by the support agency, is filed with the appropriate government office. For example, a lien against the payer's real estate is filed in the county land records, and a lien against a vehicle is recorded with the department of motor vehicles. In some states, a lien is created by law once the support reaches a certain amount or is so many months past due, but the agency may not file the lien in a government office unless special circumstances apply. For example, child support over two months past due becomes a lien in Michigan by law, but Michigan support offices don't file the lien in a government office.

Proof

Once the lien is filed, it's presumed valid even if the child support agency is mistaken. The support payer won't be able to sell the property without taking care of the lien first. A child support payer must contact the office collecting the support immediately if a lien is filed but he doesn't owe arrears. He'll need proof of his child support payments -- such as canceled checks or pay stubs if the support is taken from his pay -- and a copy of the court order showing how much he's supposed to pay.

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Removal

Once the payer meets with a child support worker and proves the lien is invalid, the agency should remove the lien by filing the proper paperwork with the government office the lien was filed in. If the lien was not filed in a government office, which may occur in states such as Michigan, the agency itself releases the lien. The payer should ask for a copy of the lien release or discharge paper filed or prepared by the agency for his own records. He also needs to check the release or discharge paper to confirm that the lien amounts and other information, such as name and date filed, match the information on the original lien. If the information on the lien removal paperwork is wrong, the payer may have trouble selling the property affected by the lien in the future.

Considerations

Some states limit what property a child support agency can place a lien against. For example, in Texas, the agency can't place a child support lien against the payer's main home in most cases. If the support agency places a lien against property exempt under state laws, the payer can request a lien release based on that fact.

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Alabama Child Support Arrears Laws

References

Related articles

Laws on Child Support Arrears in Nevada

Nevada’s laws on child support payments, including arrearages, are covered in Chapters 125B and 130 of Nevada Revised Statutes. While state agencies are available to help, you may wish to consult with an attorney if you have questions about how these laws apply to your specific situation.

What Happens If You Get Behind on Child Support Payments?

If you've lost your job or suffered a financial catastrophe, chances are that you're barely able to make your child support payments. You might even have fallen behind on them. Unlike credit card and car payments, paying child support is a legal obligation backed by court order. While each state has its own child support enforcement methods, many of the penalties imposed for falling behind on payments are similar from state to state.

What Are Florida Child Support Laws on Property Liens?

To ensure that children in Florida have the financial support they need, the state has several methods for enforcing child support orders, including property liens. While a parent may independently file an action with the court to enforce a child support order, state departments may also initiate enforcement actions if a parent is more than 15 days past due on support.

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