As divorce rates reach record highs here in the United States, more families are dealing with child support than ever before.
The numbers may surprise you: over 26% of all children in America live with one parent while the other lives somewhere else. In total, child support dues amount to about $34.1 billion dollars, and that number rises each year.
Whether you’re seeking payments or are in need of more information about your obligation to pay child support to a former spouse, it’s important to realize that both parents are responsible when it comes to supporting a child financially.
Child support payments in Wisconsin vary from family to family and all amounts must be approved by a court, however it is possible to estimate your payments using a few steps I’ll explain below. In addition to payment amounts, I’ll also cover some of the most common questions concerning child support to give you a clearer picture of what responsibilities you and your spouse have.
Let’s explore some of the basic components and rules governing child support in Wisconsin:
Income-based child support payments in Wisconsin
Here in Beloit and the rest of Wisconsin, child support is based on the income of the parent who is paying. “Income” in this case doesn’t just mean your paycheck––it means all sources, both taxable and untaxable.
A taxable salary and an untaxable retirement fund like a 401(k) are both considered your income. Other sources include wages, bonuses, tips, commissions, and interest made on assets such as a house or other investment.
A better question to ask when defining income is what doesn’t count towards it. Public assistance payments like social security and food stamps don’t contribute when assessing child support.
How do you calculate a child support payment in Wisconsin?
If you have income numbers totaled, it’s possible to estimate the amount of child support needed. Remember, even if you’re able to calculate a payment, a court must approve any amount you or your spouse agrees to provide.
The standard calculation guideline in Wisconsin is the Percent Conversion Table. It’s used if the paying parent’s income is between $1,350 and $7,000 each month. Here’s the table:
- 1 Child: 17% of income
- 2 Children: 25% of income
- 3 Children: 29% of income
- 4 Children: 31% of income
- 5 or more children: 34% of income
If the paying parent is earning less than $1,350 each month, you can calculate approximate payments based on the Low-Income Payer Table. The percentages for one child can start as low as 11.34%. For a more exact table, click here.
For those making over $7,000 per month, check out the High Income Payer Table here. It’s important to note that just because a parent might make more money, does not mean payments will be higher than the standard. Be aware that if a payment system seems unfair, the court might agree with you and have that amount changed.
Of course, there are a variety of exceptions to these guidelines since every situation is different. Here are a list of other calculators with links to help you find payment amounts:
- The serial family calculator is for parents who are supporting multiple families.
- The shared-family calculator is for those whose custody plan allows non-custodial parents to spend at least 25% of the time with the child.
- The split placement calculator is for those with more than one child split up between both parents.
Commonly asked questions about child support in Wisconsin
If you’re still wondering about the responsibilities that come with child support here in Wisconsin, here are some of the most commonly asked questions:
I’m paying child support but I don’t think it’s being used the way it should be. What can I do?
Child support is intended to go toward your child’s welfare. If you have reason to believe it’s not being used appropriately, contact the Department of Health and Human Services to see what can be done. Be aware that neither the state nor federal governments have jurisdiction over how these payments are actually spent.
The other parent refuses to let me see the child. Do I still have to pay?
Child support and visitation are not one in the same. If there is a court order setting a schedule for entitled visitations and you believe it’s being violated, you can seek sanctions against the other parent by hiring an experienced Beloit family law attorney to represent you.
What happens if I ignore my child support payments or agency?
If you don’t pay child support ordered of you, you may be held in contempt of court. This could result in jail, suspension of your driver’s license or recreational licenses or could be referred to the District Attorney for a possible criminal case.
If you get support from the State and don’t cooperate, you’ll receive a notice of non-noncooperation through your economic support worker. Your benefits may be terminated and your case may be closed accordingly.
My child is now 18, why do I still have to pay?
Wisconsin law requires payments to continue through age 18 or 19 if they’re pursuing a high school education (or an equivalent).
Looking for an experienced family law attorney in the Beloit, Wisconsin area? Click here for a free consultation with The Fitzgerald Law Firm.
At The Fitzgerald Law Firm your initial consultation is always free and you will always meet directly with one of our attorneys. We understand that appointments during traditional working hours may not be convenient for all, and thus we strive to be available for evening, weekend, and off-site appointments. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
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