The Wisconsin Child Support Standard includes a wealth of information on calculating the amount and other details, but the provisions can be complicated and overwhelming if you do not have a legal background. You have important rights whether you are paying or receiving child support on behalf of your child, and you put them at risk unless you work with skilled legal counsel.
Our team at Karp & Iancu, S.C. has in-depth knowledge of child support laws, backed by decades of experience representing parents in court proceedings. We are prepared to support your legal needs when you will be receiving payments, and we will ensure that the court considers all relevant factors to calculate a fair amount if you are the paying parent. Please contact our firm today to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our Kenosha child support attorneys. You can also read on for a summary of the laws.
How Child Support Works in Wisconsin
It is well-established that a child has a legal right to support from both parents, but every US state takes a different approach to the details of the obligation. Wisconsin uses the parentage of income standard as a starting point, which generally assesses the income of both parents, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and whether there are other children to support. Child support is intended to cover expenses involved with raising the child, such as:
- Health care, medical treatment, and insurance;
- Food, clothing, and personal care items;
- Lodging and related bills, including utilities, cable, internet, and other basic home-related services;
- Education and extracurricular activities;
- Transportation and travel; and
- Many others.
The focus is on “gross” income of the parents, which includes all earnings related to wages, salary, bonuses, and commissions through employment. However, it is also necessary to consider interest income, amounts for workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits, earnings from a business, disability, and others. When a child support order is entered, the payments are usually deducted from the payor parent’s wages via withholding by the employer.
Child Support Process and Calculations
Though every case is different, evaluating the support obligation involves five steps:
- Support Request: The parent seeking child support must request it from the court, typically through a divorce case or paternity lawsuit.
- Collecting Financials: Because the income of both parents is a focal point, you should gather up all documentation related to your earnings. Collect your W-2s, 1099’s, paystubs, income tax returns, bank statements, and any other information that reflects income.
- Calculating the Support Obligation: There are online tools available to help you evaluate the amount you will be paying or receiving as child support. When it comes to legal action, there will be an exact amount entered in the court’s order. At this point, you should also determine whether a deviation from child support guidelines is appropriate. A judge may approve a deviation that is higher or lower if it serves the child’s best interests.
- Entering a Child Support Order: Parents can agree on the details of child support, but a court will issue a finding in the event of disputes. All information will be contained within the order, and a wage assignment order will be issued to ensure automatic deductions from the payor’s earnings.
- Staying Current: In the months and years that follow entry of a child support order, it is important for recipient and payor to notify the court and each other of significant changes.
Enforcement and Modification
A child support order is legally binding on the parties, so there may be a need to address the issue in the future. On the one hand, you may need to enforce the obligation if you are the recipient and the payor has stopped forwarding funds. This may occur when the payor parent is in-between jobs, self-employed, or otherwise does not have automatic withholding. You could be on the other end of an enforcement case if you do not pay, and keep in mind that interest and serious penalties may apply.
Child support modification may be necessary when a payor involuntarily loses a job, gets laid off, or experiences another event that impacts income. There could also be adjustments necessary when the payor has a new child to support or needs change for the child being supported. Note that modification is advisable if you cannot pay, as opposed to not abiding by the support obligation and opening yourself up to enforcement.
Legal Guidance with Child Support Issues
From requesting support and understanding your interests as payor to enforcement and modification, you can see that there are complicated legal issues. Karp & Iancu, S.C. will evaluate strategies for establishing child support through all available options, and we assist parents on both sides of the issue. You can trust our Kenosha child support lawyers to:
- Review your financial documentation and calculate the child support obligation;
- Prepare a petition for child support OR respond to one that you received;
- Consult with you regarding a potential agreement on child support;
- Discuss settlement of child support issues with the opposing side;
- Enter the court orders related to an agreement on child support; and
- Advocate on your behalf if the child support issue goes before the court for a trial.
In addition, if you need assistance with enforcement or modification, our team is prepared to guide you with the legal proceedings.