Effects of a child support nonpayment home lien on a divorce

The Office of Child Support Enforcement and its assorted regional partners, such as the Florida Department of Revenue, have been empowered by law to take a variety of steps in order to secure payment of child support. This can include placing a lien upon a house or property. There are some cases where an individual who was already paying support for a child chose to marry, only to have a lien for nonpayment of support placed on their new marital home. If their new marriage is someday dissolved, then the lien may affect the division of property.

The lien is placed on the home or property, and there it will stay. No matter who ends up with the title after equitable property division, the lien remains with the property. This is true even if the person who failed to pay child support has been removed from the title entirely.

Depending on the amount of the equity that the ex-spouse who gets the property has in it, it may be reasonable to sell or refinance the mortgage. The lien would be paid after the mortgage loan is satisfied. If the amount of equity in the home is less than is necessary to pay the amount of the lien, then the remainder of the balance would fall upon the delinquent parent and not on the owner of the property.

Under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act of 1975, states have broad powers to ensure payment of child support. This includes, but is not limited to, garnishing wages, taking tax refunds and seizing property. It can be an excellent idea to contact the agency that placed the lien, apprise them of the situation, and see if they can be convinced to go after their collection target more directly. The advice of a lawyer may be invaluable in negotiating with state and federal agencies.

Source: FOX Business, "Will Divorce Release You From Home Lien?", Steve Bucci, January 10, 2014

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  • The Law Office of Daniel E. Forrest represents individuals in Fort Lauderdale in high-asset divorce matters. Daniel Forrest is board-certified family lawyer and mediator serving the South Florida area.
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