Experienced Child Support Attorneys Serving Milwaukee, Waukesha and Southeast Wisconsin

According to the law, children in Wisconsin have the right to receive financial support from both parents. The amount of support is strictly determined by a percentage of gross income or, in a shared placement situation, by a complicated equation. The court has very little authority to deviate from this equation except in limited circumstances. Your lawyer needs to make sure that child support is calculated correctly and is fair to both parties and the children.

How Is Child Support Calculated In Wisconsin?

Child support is calculated by a formula used by the court in Wisconsin. In the case where one parent has primary placement, child support is based upon the number of minor children and a percentage of the nonplacement parent’s gross income. For example, if there is one minor child, child support is 17% of the payor’s gross income, two children is 25%, three children is 29%, four children is 31% and five children or more is 34% of the payor’s gross income.  Parents who are considered to be “high income payors” are entitled to a reduction of these amounts above a certain income.

If the parents have shared placement (more than 25 percent of the overnight placement throughout the year, the formula is then based on the number of children, the number of overnights in the placement (visitation) schedule and the income or earning capacity of each parent.  If there is an equal placement schedule and both parties have similar earnings or earning capacities, then there would be no child support.  However, if there is an equal placement schedule and one parent earns substantially more, or if there is an unequal placement schedule, there likely would be child support owed under the statutory guidelines.

The trade off for that reduction in support in shared placement cases, however, is that both parents must then pay a percentage of their child’s reasonable expenses above basic support costs. These expenses include child care, school fees and supplies, extracurricular costs, and other variable expenses.  The division  of these expenses  correlated to the amount of time a parent has.  For example, a parent with 50% placement time, pays 50% of the expenses.  A parent with 25% of placement time pays 25% of the expenses.

Some examples of child support calculations are as follows:

Scenario One: Parent A earns $75,000 gross income per year and Parent B earns $42,000 per year. If Parent B has primary placement, Parent A will pay $1,563 per month in child support. If the parents share placement with Parent A having 35% of overnight placement and Parent B having 65% of overnight placement, Parent B will pay $1,042 per month in child support. If the parents equally share placement, Parent B still pays $516 per month in child support.

Placement Schedule for Two Children

Parent A Earns $75,000 gross per year and Parent B Earns $42,000 gross per year.

Child Support Calculation
Primary Placement with Parent B $1,563/month
35% with Parent A and 65% with Parent B (“9/5” schedule) $1,042/month
50% with Parent A and 50% with Parent B (“7/7” schedule) $516/month

.

Scenario Two: Parent A earns $150,000 gross income per year and Parent B earns $35,000 per year. If Parent B has primary placement, Parent A will pay $2,850 per month in child support. If the parents share placement with Parent A having 35% of overnight placement and Parent B having 65% of overnight placement, Parent B will pay $2,363 per month in child support. If the parents equally share placement, Parent B still pays $1,591 per month in child support.

Placement Schedule for Two Children

Parent A Earns $150,000 gross per year and Parent B Earns $35,000 gross per year.

Child Support Calculation
Primary Placement with Parent B $2,850/month
35% with Parent A and 65% with Parent B (“9/5” schedule) $2,363/month
50% with Parent A and 50% with Parent B (“7/7” schedule) $1,591/month

.

Scenario Three: Parent A earns $80,000 gross income per year and Parent B earns $75,000 per year. If Parent B has primary placement, Parent A will pay $1,667 per month in child support. If the parents share placement with Parent A having 35% of overnight placement and Parent B having 65% of overnight placement, Parent B will pay $775 per month in child support. If the parents equally share placement, Parent B pays only $78 per month in child support.

Placement Schedule for Two Children

Parent A Earns $80,000 gross per year and Parent B Earns $75,000 gross per year.

Child Support Calculation
Primary Placement with Parent B $1,667/month
35% with Parent A and 65% with Parent B (“9/5” schedule) $775/month
50% with Parent A and 50% with Parent B (“7/7” schedule) $78/month

For more specific information, please go to: https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/cs/order/tools

Post-Judgment Modifications And Enforcement

We also handle post-judgment issues that arise after the initial child support determination. If one parent’s income changes, the child support order may need to be modified.

If one parent fails to pay child support, the other can file contempt or an enforcement action. The court can order the nonpaying parent to payback child support payments that have accumulated, known as arrears.

Our law office has focused exclusively on family law since opening in 1997. We know how to help with any issue related to child support. Our clients trust us because they know we have experienced and hardworking problem-solvers.

Our Experience Can Help You Reach A Fair Child Support Agreement

If child support is not calculated correctly or if income is not determined accurately, this may be very unfair to one of the parties or to the child. One parent may have to pay too much or the child may end up receiving too little. Our lawyers’ experience is a valuable tool in making sure agreements conform to the law.


Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support

How Much Child Support Will I Have To Pay?

The amount of child support ordered by the court will depend on the amount of placement that you have with your child(ren). If you have less than 25% of the placement with your child(ren) (based on number of overnights over the course of a year) then your child support will be based on the following percentages of your gross income:
  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for 2 children
  • 29% for 3 children
  • 31% for 4 children
  • 34% for 5 or more children

If you have more than 25% placement with your child(ren) (based on number of overnights over the course of a year) then the court will order support based on both parents’ incomes and the amount of placement that each parent has with the child(ren). While this formula reduces the amount of actual child support paid, it obligates both parties to share variable expenses proportionate to their percent of placement.

The exact formula used to calculate child support for a shared placement schedule is complicated and can be found at http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/bcs/guidelines_tools.htm

Are There Exceptions To The Percentages Listed Above?

Yes. If you make $84,000 per year or more, there is a separate “high income payor” formula used by the court. If you have more than one child support order, you are considered a “serial payor” and are entitled to credit for any prior orders of older children.

Additionally, the court may deviate upward or downward from the percentage guidelines based on a number of factors such as contribution toward health cost premiums, travel expenses, or other extraordinary expenses. Each case can present unique circumstances which may warrant a deviation. The court has discretion on whether to deviate from the child support guidelines.

What if the other parent is self employed?

Sometimes specialists are needed to determine income in a divorce case when calculating child support. If your spouse owns a business or has multiple sources of income, it may be difficult to determine or calculate his or her exact income. Identifying this income may require the use of experts such as forensic accountants, vocational experts or business specialists. In these cases, reviewing tax returns, bank statements and spending history may be key in determining income available for support.

What if the other parent is not employed?

We often use experts in matters that may affect the determination of income for a stay-at-home parent, self-employed or part-time employed spouse. The judge may determine that this party does not earn enough and must work more to their highest ability. In those cases, we may need expert testimony to determine the earning capacity of that party when calculating child support. “Imputing” income in a case may be needed to fairly calculate child support when one spouse is un- or under employed. This is especially true in cases of shared placement when both parties’ incomes are part of the calculation in determining child support. A vocational expert may be needed to get the court to impute income to the un- or underemployed parent.

Will The Court Order Child Support Based On My Overtime And/Or Second Job?

Child support is based upon your gross income from all sources. This would include part time jobs, overtime and bonuses. While the court can decide to exclude certain income from the child support calculations (such as a one-time bonus), they are under no obligation to exclude that income, and compelling arguments must be made to do so.

I Pay My Child Support, Do I Have To Pay Extra For Activities, Daycare, And Medical Expenses?

Regardless of whether you are paying child support according to the shared placement formula or the primary placement formula, both parties are obligated to share equally in any unreimbursed medical expenses unless otherwise agreed to. The court can also allocate the responsibility, and cost, for carrying health insurance for the child(ren).

Variable expenses such as school activities and day care only require a contribution if it is separately ordered by the court or if you are paying support under the shared placement formula. If you are under a shared placement formula then you are likely responsible for variable expenses in proportion to the amount of placement time you have. For instance, if you have your child(ren) 35% of the time, then you would be obligated to pay 35% of the variable expenses under the child support guidelines. The court, however, can also order a party to contribute to variable expenses even if they do not have shared placement after considering certain factors which are set forth in the statutes. If you have a change in placement, you should make sure that the proportion of variable expenses you pay is still proportional to your percentage of placement.

If I Am Owed Unpaid Child Support, Can I Pursue It?

If you are not receiving the child support that you are entitled to receive by court order, there are several options that can be taken to recover unpaid support. You can contact an attorney to discuss pursuing a contempt or enforcement option for past due support.

Allow Us To Help You With Your Child Support Matters

For help with your child support related questions, call us to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC.  Whether you are in Milwaukee or in Waukesha, Wisconsin, we can help you. Contact us at 414-939-0529.

We accept all credit cards.