What Every Homeowner Should Know About Selling a House with a Child Support Lien

The process of selling a home is already a daunting task. Add to that a child support lien, and the challenge multiplies. Fortunately, you’ve found a comprehensive guide tailored for homeowners who are navigating this unique situation.

Understanding Child Support Lien in Real Estate

Child support is a legal obligation that noncustodial parents are mandated to pay. When these obligations go unmet or overdue, the United States Department of Revenue (DOR) can place a lien on the debtor’s property. This lien is essentially a legal claim against the home, ensuring that the owed child support is paid from the sale proceeds.

Implications of a Child Support Lien on Selling a Home

1. Home Value and Sale Amount: The presence of a lien can affect the property’s potential market value. While it doesn’t directly reduce the house’s value, the lien amount is subtracted from the sale amount, impacting the homeowner’s profit.
2. Mortgage Complications: Homes with a lien can sometimes be deemed “unmortgageable.” Traditional buyers relying on financial products from banks may find it hard to secure a mortgage for such properties.
3. Buyer Perception: Knowing that a property has a lien could deter some potential buyers. This makes it crucial to work with a seasoned realtor familiar with such situations.

Strategies for Homeowners

1. Clear the Lien Before Listing: If you can afford it, paying off the overdue child support to remove the lien is advisable. This can enhance the home’s marketability, offering a “lien-free” property to potential buyers.
2. Seek Cash Buyers: Given the mortgage complications associated with liens, targeting cash buyers, such as investors or professional home buyers, is a viable strategy.
3. Engage an Attorney: Legal intricacies can abound when selling a home with a child support lien. Collaborating with an attorney can offer clarity and ensure you’re making informed decisions.

Potential Ramifications of Not Addressing the Child Support Lien

1.*Impact on Credit Score: Overdue child support payments are often reported to credit bureaus, leading to a plummeting credit score.
2. Income Withholding: The DOR might withhold a portion of your income to cater to the unpaid child support.
3. Interception of Tax Refunds: If you’re expecting tax refunds, they might be intercepted to offset the debt.
4. Suspension of Licenses: A more severe consequence includes the suspension of professional licenses or even your driver’s license.
5. Jail Time: In extreme cases, consistent neglect of child support obligations can lead to incarceration.

Finding the Right Buyer: Communication is Key

Being upfront about the lien can help in attracting genuine buyers. A well-informed buyer, understanding the home details and lien’s ramifications, is less likely to step back at the last moment.

Realtors and Professional Home Buying Companies

While a realtor can provide invaluable assistance in traditional sales, a professional home-buying company can offer a quick solution. These companies often present a no-obligation cash offer, providing homeowners a fresh start without the extended wait of the typical real estate market. If quick cash is what you need to offset debts and obligations, this could be the avenue for you.

Rebuilding Life Post-Sale

After successfully selling the property and addressing the child support lien:

1. Revise Financial Plans: Use the proceeds to settle any outstanding debts and draft a robust financial plan for the future.
2. Repair Credit Score: Engage financial products and services to start rebuilding your credit score. Consistent payments and responsible credit usage can mend the damage over time.
3. Reconnect with Your Child: Settling child support arrears isn’t just about finances. It offers a chance to play a larger role in your child’s life without the looming burden of debt.


Selling a house with a child support lien may be challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. With the right strategies, expert guidance, and a proactive approach, homeowners can navigate the process smoothly, ensuring a brighter financial future for themselves and a more harmonious relationship with their child.