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How child support works for high wage earners in Wisconsin

What will your life look like after divorce? How much will you pay in child support? It is not always easy to envision what life will look like as a divorced parent especially regarding finances. One of the issues divorcing parents will have to resolve is that of child support. Although courts are increasingly creating more shared parenting time arrangements, in most cases one parent will still be responsible for paying some degree of child support. This is especially true when one parent’s income exceeds the other parent’s income and if the payor is a high income wage earner.

Wisconsin’s child support guidelines

In Wisconsin, child support is generally determined by a set of child support guidelines that establishes child support based on the number of children, the number of overnights each parent has over the course of a year and the parties’ respective gross monthly income. Under Wisconsin child support guidelines, the percentage of income necessary to support children decreases once a parent’s income reaches certain threshold levels. The following is a breakdown of the current child support guidelines for high wage earners in Wisconsin:

Child support percentages for individual parents earning $84,000 to $150,000 a year

Individual parents earning between $7,000 and $12,500 per month will be responsible for the following percentages:

  • One child: 14 percent
  • Two children: 20 percent
  • Three children: 23 percent
  • Four children: 25 percent
  • Five children or more: 27 percent

Child support percentages for individual parents with incomes greater than $150,000 a year

Individual parents earning more than $12,500 per month will be responsible for the following percentages:

  • One child: 10 percent
  • Two children: 15 percent
  • Three children: 17 percent
  • Four children: 19 percent
  • Five children or more: 20 percent

What other factors influence child support?

Child support may not always be strictly determined solely by a percentage of income. Courts in Wisconsin have the ability to deviate from the established child support guidelines if, after an analysis of circumstances, the court finds that the percentage of income model would be unfair or pose an undue hardship on either the children or the paying parent.

Because a child support determination will have a significant impact on all parties following a divorce, it is important to consult with a family law attorney who is experienced working with the local courts to ensure that child support is established at an appropriate, fair, and reasonable amount. This is especially true in cases when one party is a high level wage earner.


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