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Wisconsin Court Records

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What is Child Support and When Does it Occur in Wisconsin?

When parents are separated, divorced, or do not otherwise live together, the non-custodial parent is obligated to make periodic payments known as child support. Child custody is the legal authority a parent or guardian has to make decisions about a child’s welfare and development. There are two types of custody in Wisconsin: physical and legal custody. The child lives with the physical custodian while the legal custodian has the legal authority to make decisions for the child.

When both parents have joint legal custody, it means both parents are court-authorized to make decisions where the child is concerned. However, if either parent has sole legal custody, only that parent has decision-making authority. The same applies to physical custody; if one parent has sole physical custody, the child lives primarily with that parent. On the other hand, if the court orders joint physical custody, the child will spend time with both parents. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent child support. Child support is usually monetary; the non-custodial parent pays the custodian cash. In Wisconsin, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) oversees child support processes and enforces child support laws.

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What is Wisconsin Child Support?

According to Wis. Stat. § 767.511, child support is the amount that is necessary to support a minor child’s welfare and development. In Maryland, the court may order both parents or either parent to regularly pay a fixed amount in child support. The Wisconsin court believes that even if parents are separated, divorced, or unmarried, both parents are responsible for child support. Using the Percentage of Income Standard, the court considers the parents’ financial ability, the number of children, and the children’s financial and medical needs in setting the child support amount. The court also determines how the parents pay child support. In Maryland, only children who are less than 18 years old or less than 19 years old, if the child is still in high school, are eligible for child support.

What Does Child Support Cover in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, child support covers a child’s basic needs, including clothing, shelter, food, personal care, utilities, and transportation. Wisconsin Child Support also covers:

  • Medical expenses: this includes medical insurance, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and extra medical expenses, including eyeglasses and surgery.
  • Child care: this includes daycare, nannies, and babysitters
  • Education: this covers tuition, uniforms, books, extracurricular activities, and school trips
  • Entertainment: games, computers, toys, internet access, etc.

What is the Average Child Support Payment in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin determines basic child support and medical support payments using the Percentage of Income Standard. Regardless of whether the parents are divorced, separated, or unmarried, both parents are responsible for the upkeep and welfare of the child. Wisconsin’s child support guidelines consider a number of factors in determining child support payment amounts, including:

  • The custody arrangement
  • The parents’ income
    • Income from assets
    • Ability to earn
    • Gross income
  • The number of children each parent supports

In Wisconsin, the percentage of income that the court applies is:

  • 17% for one (1) child
  • 25% for two (2) children
  • 29% for three (3) children
  • 31% for four (4) children
  • 34% for five (5) children or more

For example, if the combined income of the parents is $1500, the child support amount due for one child would be $255 for one child and $375 for two children.

How Do I Apply for Child Support in Wisconsin?

When the court passes a child support order in Wisconsin, the parents or families must also apply for child support services, which include:

  • Scheduling genetic tests to determine paternity
  • Locating the other parent or the other parent’s financial assets
  • Setting up court cases to legally establish paternity
  • Enforcing health insurance payments for the child
  • Enforcing other child support payments
  • When necessary, reviewing child support orders
  • When necessary, ending child support orders

Parents that receive or pay child support are automatically eligible for financial management services. Interested parents or guardians may apply for child support services by completing a parent or guardian form and submit it to any local child support agency.

How Do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in Wisconsin?

While it is not possible to waive or get out of paying child support in Wisconsin, parents that do not agree to the terms of a child order may request a review or modification. Interested parties may file a modification motion with the court clerk in the county where the party lives. An attorney may also file the motion on a parent’s behalf. Parents may also request child order support reviews from local child support agencies at no cost. The agency may respond by attempting to facilitate an agreement with the other parent or by denying the review request. The agency may also set a date for a judge to review the order in court.

If the court reviews the child support order and determines that a change is necessary, the court will draft a stipulation for the parents’ signature. If both parents agree to the child support amount, the parents may file a Stipulation and Order to Amend Judgement for Support at a local child support agency. The court will decide whether or not to review the order.

Otherwise, child support ends in Wisconsin when:

  • A child is legally emancipated
  • The court terminates the parental rights of the parents
  • The child gets adopted

What is Back Child Support in Wisconsin?

Back child support, also known as arrearage or past-due child support in Wisconsin is the unpaid amount an obligor owes to the obligee for child support over a period. Parents who owe back child support in Wisconsin must pay at interest at the rate of 1% per month if the amount due is the same as or more than the required monthly child support (Wis. Stat. § 767.511(6). If the parent is no longer required to pay child support, the interest rate will apply to the total amount due.

How Do I Get Back Child Support Paid in Wisconsin?

Eligible persons may file a court order to enforce back child support payments in Wisconsin. The state charges a 0.5% interest per month on back child support. However, the interest only applies if the amount owed is the same as or more than the required monthly payment. The state may also increase the amount from the defaulting parent’s paycheck, up to 50% of the outstanding child support payment. Wisconsin also enforces back child support payment by creating payment plans for the defaulting parent. The parent must make payment when due; otherwise, the court may take action against the defaulter’s property, licenses, or bank accounts. Payment plan defaulters may also not have access to loans and government grants.

The DCF may also enforce back child support payments by:

  • Filing a court action of contempt or criminal nonsupport against the obligor
  • Income withholding
  • License restriction or suspension
  • Child support liens
  • Intercepting tax refunds

Is there a Wisconsin Statutes of Limitation on Child Support?

The statute of limitations for back child support payment in Wisconsin is 20 years after the child turns 18, which is the age of majority in Wisconsin. Additionally, the statute of limitations for determining paternity is 19; the child’s paternity must be legally determined before the child turns 19.

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