How is Child Support Calculated in Appleton?
The courts in Appleton will usually issue a child support court order once the parents do not live together any longer. If one parent has primary placement with the child, Wisconsin law requires them to pay a certain amount of their gross income. Primary placement means that more than 25 percent of nights are spent with the parent. The percentage increases depending on how many children a person has. The percentages used are as follows:
- One child: 17 percent of a person’s gross income
- Two child: 25 percent of a person’s gross income
- Three child: 29 percent of a person’s gross income
- Four children: 31 percent of a person’s gross income
- Five or more children: 34 percent of a person’s gross income
When parents have shared placement of children, in which each parent has over 25 percent of overnight visits with the child, calculations for child support will factor in the above percentages. However, adjustments will be made for the income of the parents, as well as the number of overnight visits each parent spends with the child.
In some situations, a judge may deviate from the standard. For example, a judge may use different percentages if one or both parents’ income is significantly low or exceptionally high. Also, any person who pays child support can seek a reduction in payments if they can show financial hardship such as health emergencies or unemployment. Likewise, custodial parents can ask the court to increase support payments if there are extraordinary expenses, such as if the child suffers from a disability.
Once the child support order is issued, the amount is then deducted from the paycheck of the parent that pays it. The employer makes the deduction and sends it to a central disbursement unit.
Modifying Child Support Orders
There are times when a child support order that made sense at the time of divorce is no longer practical. It is important that people do not make changes to this order themselves. Before any changes are made, a judge must officially approve them. Like any other term of divorce, parents can reach an agreement about changing the amount of child support to be paid. To prevent disputes in the future, this agreement should be in writing and should be submitted to the court for approval.
When parents cannot agree on the change, they will have to go to court. Before they do, they will have to wait at least 33 months from the day of the last support calculation. For example, if two spouses agreed to support on April 1, 2019, a modification cannot be sought until at least January 1, 2022.
While the law on the waiting period to modify support is strict, there are some exceptions included in it. A parent can request a modification if there has been a significant change in circumstances. A significant change in circumstances may include:
- The pay of the non-custodial parent increases
- The health of the non-custodial parent declines
- The income of the custodial parent changes
- There is a change in the custodial parent’s health
- The medical needs or health of the child changes
- The child’s needs change
- There is a change in custody arrangements
- A parent is incarcerated
It is important to note that the change must be legitimate, which typically means outside of the control of either party. For example, if someone quit their job, that likely would not result in a modification to a child support order. When one party refuses visitation between the child and the other parent, that is also not a valid reason to change child support payments or refuse them altogether.
Enforcing Child Support Orders
Even though a court order for child support is considered final and legally binding, some people still do not comply with it. When this is the case, the recipient may have to take the matter to court to enforce it. Enforcing an order may involve:
- Wage garnishment: A judge may order the employer to take a percentage of the parent’s paycheck and forward it to the appropriate place for disbursement.
- Interception of pension payments: The law in Appleton allows the Department of Children and Families to order the department of employee trust funds to take a portion of the funds to fulfill an order for child support.
- Property liens: The Department of Children and Families can also place a lien against certain property, such as a bank account, to recover the missed child support payments.
- Driver’s License suspension: The Department of Children and Families also has the authority to suspend a person’s driver’s license, deny a renewal, or place other restrictions on a person’s license until they bring their child support payments current.
It is also important to note that once the child support payments are missed regularly enough that they make up one month of missed payments, interest will start to accrue on the amount. This can make it even more difficult to make the payments that have been missed.