A lien is a charge against property or other assets.
Real Property Liens
By putting the order or judgment in the official records the public is put on notice that the paying parent owes money. The recording creates a lien - usually equal to the child support arrears - against any real property owned by the paying parent. If the paying parent tries to sell or refinance property, the lien must be satisfied from the proceeds of the sale or loan.
Commonly, there is not enough money in the property sale or refinance to satisfy all the arrears. The child support agency may then agree to take less than the full arrears to allow the deal to go through and get some payment rather than ruin the deal and get no payment. Such an agreement does not forgive any of the unpaid arrears.
If the property was refinanced and the lien was not fully satisfied, the lien remains on the property. If the property was refinanced and the lien was fully satisfied, the lien will be removed from the property. If the lien is not fully satisfied, it remains on the property.
Worker's Compensation Liens
A lien is created in a Worker's Compensation case by filing a document in the court action that certifies the support arrears. If there is a settlement of the claim, the child support agency will usually negotiate a payment of a portion of the arrears. If a settlement is negotiated it does not forgive any arrears not paid by the settlement.
Notes: Collection in Worker's Compensation cases is limited to support that accrued after the injury occurred. The lien procedure is separate from the wage withholding order that is served to collect against temporary disability benefits being paid to the injured worker. A Worker's Compensation judge can decide that no money will be paid against the lien.
Lien on a Lawsuit
A lien is created in a lawsuit by filing a document with the court that certifies the support arrears. Unless the court orders otherwise, no settlement or award can be paid to the paying parent until the lien (support arrears) are paid. If there is not enough money in the award, or if the case is being settled to avoid the chance of losing at trial, the child support agency may agree to take less than the full arrears amount. Such an agreement does not forgive any unpaid arrears.