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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

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.

Specialists Are Sometimes Necessary To Determine Income

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.

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. These experts and specialists come with varying costs, and so the decision to use their services will depend on the facts of the case.

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.

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.

For help with your child support related questions, call us at (414) 258-1644 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC.