Ask A Lawyer: What Is A Lien?


Due to the recent economy, my pay has significantly dropped. At one time I had my arrears down to $2500, but today I got a letter from the OAG saying they are putting a lien on my real property and that I owe over $7000.

I pay what I can toward my child support every month which leaves me flat broke. I am a truck driver with two trucks and I am afraid they will try too take them.  If they take them, then I will not be able to pay my bills or my child support.

What is a lien, and what can I do to prevent this from happening?



You should take your information and documents to a qualified domestic litigation firm to review the exact nature of your situation.  In general, a lien is a claim on property that only prevents the property from being transferred without paying the lien.  A garnishment or seizure order actually takes the property in satisfaction of the debt. 

As child support debts usually accrue interest until paid, with payments applied first to the interest, the arrearage will grow when payments do not exceed the interest charge.  It is also possible for payments to not be properly credited.  You should have been provided an account statement, or can obtain one from the child support agency (sometimes on the Internet) or from the court clerk of the court that ordered the support.  If you have documentation of payments not reflected in the child support records, you should be able to submit those records to the child support enforcement agency to obtain credit.  The lien notice may have also provided you an appeal procedure to follow if you dispute the debt.  If the payments are contested, you may need to seek a court or administrative hearing to adjudicate the amount of your arrearage.


Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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