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Wisconsin Child Support Guidelines

Children have a legal right to receive support from both of their parents. The child support guidelines that Wisconsin courts use to set child support payment amounts is called the Percentage of Income Standard. This standard considers the income of the parent, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and if the parent is supporting other children.

How are Child Support Obligations Enforced?

When a parent doesn't pay his or her child support, the debt becomes past-due. Starting April 1, 2014, the interest charged on past-due child support in Wisconsin is .5% per month or 6% per year. Child support agencies can enforce a child support order by:

  • Intercepting the debtor's federal or state income tax refunds or tribal per capita payments
  • Denying the parent who owes support a U.S. passport, college grants, or small business loans
  • Placing a lien on the debtor's property (land, cars, boats, etc) that must be paid off before the property can be sold
  • Suspending or restricting a professional, recreational (hunting or fishing), or driver's license

Wisconsin's child support guideline laws are outlined in the following table.

Code Sections

Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 767: Actions Affecting the Family, Subchapters VI: Support and Maintenance & VIII: Enforcement and Chapter 769: Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

Wisconsin Administrative Code, Department of Children and Families (DCF) Chapters 152: Child Support Administrative Enforcement & 153: Child Support Incentive Payments

Who is Responsible?

Both of the child's legal parents.

How is Support Calculated?

The standard percentage of income guideline in Wisconsin for child support is:

  • 17% of income for 1 child
  • 25% of income for 2 children
  • 29% of income for 3 children
  • 31% of income for 4 children
  • 34% of income for 5 or more children

In many states, the court can determine a different child support amount based on the circumstances of the case at the discretion of the judge. In Wisconsin, guidelines are set up for many different circumstances, so there's some standardization of special cases. However, the court can still deviate from the standard if it would be unfair to either the child or one of the parents. Special child support guidelines exist for parents who:

  • Share placement of their children (child with each parent at least 25% of the time)
  • Split the placement of their children (example: one parent has one child, the other parent has another)
  • Support more than one family (called a “serial family”)
  • Have a Low income
  • Have a High income

No matter which guideline is used, the income of the parents must be determined. Wisconsin considers the following sources to be income:

  • Wages, salaries, earnings, tips, commissions, and bonuses from work
  • Interest and capital gains from investments or property
  • Worker's compensation benefits or personal injury awards intended to replace income
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), but NOT Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or other public assistance (food stamps, etc)
  • Military allowances and veterans benefits
  • Voluntary retirement contributions, cafeteria plans, and undistributed income of a corporation

Child support can also be based on a parent’s ability to earn based on past earnings, current health, education, work experience, history as primary care giver, and availability of jobs locally. Income can also be imputed or a value be given to intangible or non-cash sources, such as life insurance, cash, deposit accounts, stocks, bonds, and business interests.

What Expenses Can the Judge Order?

Child support is intended to cover the basic expenses of having a child, including food, clothing, housing, utilities, transportation, personal care, and health insurance.

How Long Must a Parent Pay Child Support?

Parent has a legal obligation to pay child support until the child turns 18 or 19 if still enrolled in high school or a GED course. Note that you still owe past due child support after your child turns 18. Past due child support cases can be opened up to 20 years after the youngest child on the order turns 18.

Note: State laws change frequently -- it's important to verify the laws you're researching.

For generally information about child support, see the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families website. If you need help changing or terminating your child support obligation, you should talk with an experienced Wisconsin child support attorney.

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Get Legal Help to Better Understand Wisconsin Child Support Guidelines

Child support is vital for children in one-parent households, providing for their basic needs and in some cases higher education. If you believe you're owed child support or need to file a claim in Wisconsin, it's a good idea to contact a local child support lawyer to have your questions answered and better understand the state's child support laws.

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