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Understanding Wisconsin Child Support Laws


The wellbeing of children is a top priority when handling a divorce or legal separation. One way the state of Wisconsin ensures a child receives adequate care in complicated family arrangements is through child support.


Understanding child support laws and expectations in Wisconsin can be difficult. Hiring a family law attorney to help navigate the process can help lessen the burden and stress of the process, and knowing the basics can give everyone involved some peace of mind. Here’s what you need to know about child support in Wisconsin.


What is child support?

Both parents have a financial obligation to a child. When a divorce or separation occurs, custody of a child - and the brunt of responsibility of care - will often fall more heavily on one parent than the other. Child support is a safeguard to ensure both parents are contributing to the wellbeing of a child.


Child support is an ongoing payment by one parent to help financially contribute to the raising of a child. Child support is established and enforced through a court order.


Who pays child support?

Typically, the parent with fewer physical placement responsibilities will be the one to make child support payments. Child support is to be paid until the child is 18 and graduated from high school.


How is child support calculated?

In most cases, child support is calculated based on the gross income of both parents and the physical placement schedule of the child or children - that is, the amount of overnights spent with each parent. After a parent files a request for child support, both parents will need to disclose their financial information and earnings to determine income. Disclosure is a continuing annual requirement.


For primary placement cases, the standard percentage of income to go towards child support in Wisconsin is as follows:

  • 17% for one child;

  • 25% for 2 children;

  • 29% for 3 children;

  • 31% for 4 children; and

  • 34% for 5 or more children.

In some cases, a situation will call for a different agreement that is more equitable to the parents and child. In these instances, Wisconsin courts may consider other factors, such as the cost of childcare, health of the child, potential earning capacity of both parents, and extraordinary child costs, among other matters.


Nonpayment of child support

Missing a child support payment or refusing to pay child support is a serious matter. When a parent owes past-due support, initial penalties may include interest charges or an increase in the amount withheld from their paycheck.


When the amount of past-due support reaches a certain level, more severe actions may be taken. It is possible for tax refunds to be intercepted and put towards past-due payments. Charges such as contempt of court or criminal nonsupport may be filed, and if convicted, the court may fine or jail the parent for nonpayment.


Consult a family law attorney

Determining the best way to care for a child, no matter the family situation, can be a challenging process. Attorneys at The Everson Law Firm have the compassion and expertise to help you navigate child support and advocate for the best outcome for your child or children. Get in touch with an attorney today.