Wisconsin Child Support Lawyer in Milwaukee

Wisconsin Child Support Lawyer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

If you are looking for a Wisconsin child support lawyer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you want an experienced divorce attorney. Our Milwaukee, Wisconsin divorce attorneys ensure a fair child support order to manage your budget.  A Wisconsin divorce lawyer can help you collect the child support you are owed or defend you against unmanageable obligations. In this area of practice, a knowledgeable attorney can protect your immediate and long-term financial interests.  The best outcome is one in which child support payments are both proper and fair.

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FAQ about Child Support

  1. What is child support?
  2. How does the court determine child support payments?
  3. What happens if there is a prior child support order for children from a different parent?
  4. Do I still have to pay child support if the other parent doesn’t follow the physical placement schedule?
  5. How long does child support continue?
  6. How is child support paid?
  7. What can I do if I am dissatisfied with the child support award or circumstances have changed?

What is child support?

​In Wisconsin, child support is court-ordered financial support and medical coverage for children.   According to Wisconsin Statutes § 767.511, judges enter child support orders when they rule on certain Wisconsin family court matters. Specifically, the court must address child support when deciding the following matters: approving a stipulation for child support; entering a judgment of annulment, divorce, or legal separation; or entering an order or a judgment in a paternity action. When the judge determines child support in Wisconsin, the court must:

  1. Order either or both parents to pay an amount reasonable or necessary to fulfill a duty to support a child. In particular, the support amount must be a fixed sum. However, an exception may exist if the parties stipulate to the amount as a percentage of the payer’s income and met certain requirements.
  2. Order which party, if either is eligible, will claim each child as an exemption for federal or state income tax purposes. 
  3. Assign responsibility for, and direct the manner of payment of, the child’s health care expenses.

How does the court determine child support payments?

If a parent spends physical placement with the child less than 25 percent of the time, the court usually bases child support on a percentage of that parent’s gross (pre-tax) income.  The standard support percentages are 17% for one child; 25% for two children; 29% for three children; 31% for four children, and 34% for five or more children.  However, these percentages may be reduced for higher income levels.  Similarly, judges may increase or decrease the standard support percentages in some circumstances. Specifically, the court may modify the child support award if applying the standard percentages would be unfair in a particular case.

What if we both have shared placement?

If each parent spends at least 25% physical placement with the child then the judge considers each parent’s gross income when setting child support. When each parent has at least 25% placement time with the child this is known as shared placement. The complexity of the calculation increases because the amount of physical placement each parent has with the child is considered.  However, the standard support percentages discussed above are still part of the equation. In addition to the child support payments set by the calculation, shared placement parents also share responsibility for the child’s variable costs. Variable costs include things such as childcare, tuition, and special needs. Variable costs are typically allocated in proportion to the time that the parent has physical placement with the child.

What if a parent who owes child support doesn’t earn enough to contribute sufficiently? If the judge believes either parent shirks their child support obligation, the court may use the shirking parent’s earning capacity to set child support. In this scenario, judges use the parent’s earning capacity instead of actual earnings, as that parent’s income for the determination.  View our child support calculator for a general idea of how much child support the judge may order you to pay or receive.

How is child support determined for serial family payers in Wisconsin?

Sometimes one or both parents are paying child support already due to a previous divorce or paternity judgment. In particular, the person already paying child support is called a serial family payer. In these circumstances, the court may reduce the serial family payer’s gross income considered for child support in the new case. The judge reduces the available gross income before applying the standard support percentages and calculations discussed above.  

Do I still have to pay child support in Wisconsin if my ex isn’t following the physical placement schedule?​

Even if the parent who receives child support fails to follow the physical placement schedule, the parent paying child support may not legally reduce or stop payments. A parent with child support obligations must pay unless the court specifically approves and orders a modification. Withholding child support without court approval only hurts the child.

How long does child support continue in Wisconsin?

​In Wisconsin, child support orders end on the last day of the month of the child’s 18th birthday, or high school graduation date, whichever is later. However, child support orders do not extend beyond a child’s 19th birthday. Specifically, child support orders terminate on the child’s 19th birthday, even if the child is still in high school.

How is child support paid in Wisconsin?

​A wage assignment is an order to an employer to deduct child support or family maintenance payments from an employee’s pay. When courts order support or maintenance, the order includes a wage assignment order for the payer’s employer. But, there is an exception to a wage assignment if the wage assignment would cause the payer irreparable harm. If irreparable harm would result then the judge may allow payment directly to the State Child Support Collection Fund. If the State Child Support Collection Fund receives child support, the agency forwards the money to the other spouse.​

What can I do if I am unhappy with the Wisconsin child support order or if the placement has changed?
​You can ask the court to reconsider its decision.  You can also appeal to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.  Strict time limits exist for filing an appeal (usually 45 days).  Additionally, the trial court can modify child support orders. However, usually, you must show a substantial change in circumstances occurred since the existing orders went into effect. The substantial change in circumstances must usually be shown before a trial court can revise a judgment.

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Contact us for a free initial consultation with Milwaukee divorce attorneys. Your child support lawyer can assist with your child support or other family law concerns in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.