Divorce Attorneys

Divorce Attorneys for

Child Support

in Wisconsin

Lawyers for child support disagreements in Southeastern Wisconsin

Whether you are just gathering information or looking to seek more child support, it's important to realize both parents are responsible for supporting their children financially. 

While child support can vary family to family and situation to situation, there is a way for you to estimate approximately how much it may be depending on different placement schedules.

Explore some of the basic rules governing child support in Wisconsin below:

Income-based child support payments

Child support in Wisconsin is determined by the income of the parent who does not have primary placement. For a shared placement schedule, both parents’ income is taken into consideration. “Income” in this circumstance refers to all sources, both taxable and untaxable. An untaxable source like a retirement fund 401(k) is considered income under Wisconsin statutes. Other income sources include wages, bonuses, tips, commissions, and interest made on assets such as a house or other properties.

It's easier to remember what sources are not considered "income". Public assistance like social security and food stamps are considered when assessing child support. Check out our easy-to-use Wisconsin child support calculator for an estimate of your monthly payments. 

How do you calculate a child support payment in Wisconsin?

If the paying parent’s gross income is between $1,350 and $7,000 each month, use the following information:

A Conversion Table for specific monthly income with child support rates can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Children and Family website.

There are separate tables and rates for low income and high-income earners. If the paying parent is earning less than $1,350 gross each month, see the Low Income Payer Table. For payers making over $7,000 per month, check out the High Income Payer document.

Of course, there are exceptions to these guidelines since every situation is different. If you have a complex case, schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to discuss your options.

Making Co-Parenting Easier: Understanding Wisconsin's Parenting Class Requirement for Divorce

Divorce is never easy, and it will ultimately result in a permanent change of lifestyle for you and your family. Navigating all of these changes can be especially challenging when you have children. Even though you are getting divorced, your children will still have two parents, and you and your ex must learn how to work together as successful co-parents long after the divorce orders are granted. To support you in this difficult transition, Wisconsin requires all divorcing couples with children to take an approved co-parenting class.

What is a parenting class? 

A parenting class is a specialized training program designed specifically for parents who are going through a divorce or legal separation. In compliance with Wisconsin statutes, these classes never exceed 4 hours in length, and they train parents how to deal with issues related to the impact of parental separation on a child's development and changes in family dynamics. These classes provide strategies to reduce the stress of divorce on children. Before your divorce can be granted, you must complete a parenting course, but you are not required to take the same course as your ex.

You must obtain a certificate of completion from an approved parenting course before the final judgment of the divorce or in timely compliance with any existing orders in your case. The court may not require the parties to attend a class as a condition to grant the final judgment or order in the divorce or paternity action, however, the court may refuse to hear a custody or physical placement motion of a party who refuses to attend a class.

Benefits of Enrolling in a Parenting Class

Even if you consider yourself a proficient parent, raising a child with your ex during and after your divorce can present unique challenges for your family. A parenting class can equip you with valuable tools and resources to incorporate into your daily routines with your children as your family goes through this emotional change in circumstances. By participating, you will gain insight into dealing with many post-divorce parenting issues, including parenting disputes. Usually, these classes are conducted by experienced professionals such as therapists or family counselors who are well-versed in handling family dynamics during and after marriage dissolution; however, the classes are not meant to take the place of regular appointments with a licensed therapist.

Approved Parenting Classes: Convenience & Accessibility

Most Wisconsin courts offer an in-person course a few times a month at a low cost through family court services. However, finding an approved parenting class is now more accessible than ever, with many options available online. While these courses usually cost more than the ones offered through the county courts, many can be conveniently completed 100% online, requiring only a computer or tablet with internet connectivity. Once you complete the course requirements, you will be issued a certificate of completion, which you must provide to the court during your divorce hearing. The cost of the course will be your responsibility, but most programs are highly affordable and offer flexible options to accommodate your schedule.

What to talk about with a Wisconsin Attorney

Meeting With a Divorce Lawyer: 3 Things You Need to Discuss

Taking that leap toward starting a divorce can be a daunting and emotional experience. As you prepare to consult with an attorney, make sure you are prepared to discuss important details to your case.  There are three main things that always come up in a consult:

1. Property Division and Assets

In a divorce, there will have to be a division of property owned by each party. At your initial consultation, you should have a rough idea of all the major property, assets, and debts in the marriage. Documentation plays a crucial role in divorce, so getting the documentation together on all of the assets and debts is a key move to organize yourself for your consultation.

2. Child Support, Placement, and Custody

If there are minor children that are a product of your marriage, you are going to have to come up with a child support, placement, and custody plan. In Wisconsin, child support should be expected because both parents are legally obligated to financially support their children. In divorces, placement and support tend to be the most difficult issues to resolve. It is imperative that you work with your attorney, letting them know all of the skeletons in your closet so they can work with you to deliver the best results for you. At the end of the day, each party needs to keep the children’s best interest on the forefront of their mind when discussing this topic.

3. Attorney Fee Structure and Timeline

When finding a Wisconsin family law attorney, you want to ensure that their fees and fee structure are well within your budget. A respectable attorney will be up front and forward with their costs, meaning no hidden fees. Be prepared to discuss fees with an attorney and know realistically what you can afford up front or if you need a payment plan.

An attorney can also go over a timeline as to the divorce. In Wisconsin, there is a minimum 120 day waiting period, but an experienced attorney can discuss with you the realistic timeline for a divorce.

The best thing to do is to have an attorney who understands you unique position and who is willing to fight for you. It is important you are able to trust and confide in your divorce lawyer and that you choose one who is experienced in family law.

What to talk about with a Wisconsin Attorney

Frequently asked questions about child support in Wisconsin:

I believe my former spouse is misusing my child support payments. What can I do?

Child support is intended to go toward your child’s welfare, which includes rent, food, clothes, etc. Of course, there are ways your former spouse will benefit from these payments, but they should mostly be used on behalf of the children. If you are concerned your child is being neglected, you could try to contact the Department of Health and Human Services to see what can be done. Be aware that the state and federal governments do not have jurisdiction or laws governing how these payments are actually spent.

The other parent is refusing to let me see my child, can I stop paying child support?

Seeing your children does not affect your child support obligation. Your obligation first and foremost is to care for your children, so do not stop paying. If your court-ordered child placement schedule is being violated, you can file for contempt for failing to adhere to a court order.

What happens if I do not pay my child support?

If you don’t pay court-ordered child support, you will be actively violating a court order and you may be held in contempt of court. Being held in contempt of court can carry harsh penalties like fines, jail, suspension of your driver’s license or recreational license, or you could be referred to the District Attorney for review for a possible criminal case. Child support is not something to ignore. If there is a change in circumstances and you are unable to pay the required support, file a motion with the court to modify the amount immediately.

What laws govern parental kidnapping?

There are a variety of laws in reference to parental kidnapping at both the federal and state levels. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act is a federal law establishing standards for which a state can enforce an existing custody and placement order for a child, and when a state can modify a custody determination made by another state. The Act gives custodial preference to a child’s home state in order to make it more difficult for a kidnapping parent to establish new custody and placement orders in a different state. There is also the Wisconsin-specific Interference with Custody law, making it a crime for a person, even a custodial parent, to intentionally take and keep a child away from the other parent in violation of a placement order.

What should I do if I think my ex-spouse may kidnap my child?

Laws in reference to suspicion of kidnapping can be complicated. If you believe that your child has been or will be kidnapped by the other parent, contact an attorney immediately. Depending on the circumstances, you can file for a temporary order to govern child placement or file for an emergency order denying the fleeing parent placement in the short term. These orders are not always simple to get, as they significantly impact the other parent’s time with the child. You will need to provide evidence and documentation of the other parent’s potential to flee with the child.




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