Gov. Walker’s 2015 budget aims to change child support

Governor Walker's budget proposal addresses various child support issues, including freezing bank accounts and expanding the ability to intercept payment through paychecks and taxes.

Governor Walker's 2015-17 Executive Budget for the state of Wisconsin covers a wide range of legal issues. One area gaining attention is the impact these proposals will have on family law, more particularly child support issues. The governor is proposing a range of changes, including exempting filing fees in cases of voluntary paternity acknowledgement. Additional notable changes include:

  • Bank accounts. State law currently allows bank accounts within the state to be frozen when there is a Wisconsin lien out for unpaid child support. The proposed budget would expand this to include child support liens from states other than Wisconsin.
  • Taxes. The proposal would also expand the ability to intercept payment by way of state taxes in situations when the family is not receiving county child support services.
  • Paychecks. Child support payments can currently be automatically removed from most paychecks. If this budget passes, payment will also be removed from state income continuation benefits and duty disability benefits which are currently exempt.

The changes can be viewed in more depth within the proposal beginning on page 112.

More on child support and Wisconsin law

In Wisconsin, a court can order one or both parents to pay what it deems a reasonable amount to support the child. This amount is required to be set at a fixed sum. The court reviews all relevant financial information that impacts a parent's earning capacity in making this determination. If shared placement is not awarded to the parties, the amount is based upon a percentage of gross income which varies by the number of minor children. If there is shared placement of children, the court will then apply a complex calculation to determine the child support payment.

In rare cases, the court may deviate from this determination. However, to do so, the court must consider a wide range of statutory factors such as contribution toward health insurance premiums. This deviation is rarely granted in Wisconsin.

Sometimes, the calculation of a child support payment can be difficult. This is particularly true in cases where multiple sources of income are present or when one spouse owns a business. A failure to provide the court with the needed information to result in an accurate payment can lead to a payment that is too low or to a parent paying more than he or she can afford. As a result, those who are going through a child support case are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced child support lawyer. This legal professional can help guide you through the initial process as well as any post judgment modifications that may arise in the future.

Keywords: family law child support