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Child Support Attorneys in Madison & MIlwaukee

Guiding Parents Through the Child Support Process

Courts give parents in paternity and divorce situations wide latitude to agree upon how they will support their children. “Child support” includes not only money paid directly from one parent to the other, but also other financial needs of the children, including health insurance, child care and other episodic expenses for such things as school and extracurricular activities. These are discussed below.

Determining Child Support Payments

Most parents agree upon a fixed amount or percentage of gross income from one parent to the other by wage assignment to be paid by an employer to the Wisconsin Support Collection Trust Fund, which in turn pays the recipient parent.

In the event that parents cannot agree, the state legislature established a schedule of percentages of gross income parents should pay depending upon the amount of time they spend with their children. The 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. If one parent has less than 25% of the children’s overnights or “equivalents”, the percentages would apply to the gross income of the parent with less time with the children, unless a deviation is warranted. If both parents have at least 25% of the children’s time, the incomes of both parents are used in the following calculation. For example:

  1. Mom’s gross monthly income x applicable % x 1.5 x Dad’s percentage of placement = Mom’s monthly child support obligation.
  2. Dad’s gross monthly income x applicable % x 1.5 x Mom’s percentage of placement = Dad’s monthly child support obligation.
  3. Larger child support obligation – smaller child support obligation = monthly child support obligation

If the parents each have at least 25% of the children’s placement, the Administrative Code provisions provide they share those variable expenses on the same percentage as their placement. “Variable expenses” usually include day care, school expenses, and extra-curricular activity costs. Some parents pool money in a joint bank account to draw from for agreed-upon expenses for the child, or pay designed categories of expenses for the children.

Extraordinary Circumstances and Considerations

Other Administrative Code provisions can provide for adjustments to the child support calculation for high incomes (more than $84,000 for one adjustment and more than $150,000 for further adjustment ) or low incomes. The Administrative Code also lists a variety of factors courts are to consider in deviating from application of the percentage calculation, including extraordinary travel costs to make placement possible. The courts determine whether these factors should apply to the child support calculations.

Health Care and Education

The court must also issue an order for health insurance coverage for the children, as well as the medical expenses, co-pays and deductibles associated with the coverage, and assign the tax exemption for the children.

Child support continues until a child reaches age 18, and as long as age 19 if the child is pursuing an accredited course of instruction leading to the acquisition of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Parents can agree upon how to fund post-secondary education, but a court cannot order it without both parties’ agreement.

Speak with a Wisconsin Child Support Attorney

If you wish to set up an appointment to speak with a family law attorney regarding child support or other family law issues, please contact Amy L. Shapiro or Katherine L. Charlton in our Milwaukee office by calling 414-271-8650, Lynn Lodahl in our Madison office by calling 608-257-0040, or use our website form to set up a case evaluation.