You have filed for divorce and requested child support in your initial petition for divorce, but no one has exactly explained how you go about to receive child support? How do you go about to receive child support? How is the amount determined? When does it start? Does your spouse pay it to you or the employer? Do you receive it monthly or on the same pay rate that your spouse receives it? Are there any processing fees that have to be paid? Can you get retroactive child support? What happens if your spouse fails to pay child support? These are all legitimate questions and issues that I will be covering in today’s blog.
In order to receive child support, you will be required to request an initial first hearing before the family court commissioner in the county where your case is pending. Along with filing your summons and petition for divorce, you should be filing an order to show cause and affidavit for first hearing. Depending on the county where your case is pending, it may take anywhere from 2 weeks to 30 days or more to get into court for your first hearing, so there will be some initial time delay with your securing child support. You should plan and budget accordingly for that first month as you may not have any money coming in from your spouse.
At the initial first court hearing, before setting a child support order, the court will need to address temporary custody and placement. There are two different formulas for calculating child support in the state of Wisconsin, based on whether there is a traditional placement schedule, with one parent having the children 75% of the time, counted as overnights, or the parents have a shared or equal placement arrangement. Whatever formula that is to be used, the first court hearing is the starting point for securing child support. The court will calculate child support based on looking at current check stubs, prior year’s tax returns and both parties’ financial disclosure statements.
Child support usually is ordered to start on the first date of the first month following your initial court hearing. Sometimes the court may order a direct payment for the month in question, particularly, if you are in court at the early part of the month, as opposed to the end of the month. The court can order retroactive child support as well, counting from the time your spouse was served with the motion to appear in court on the request for child support. It does not go back retroactively to the time you separated or when you filed for divorce. All orders set at the initial first hearing are temporary in nature and may not necessarily be the same child support orders or amounts once you obtain your divorce.
All support orders in Wisconsin are paid through wage assignment. The court order gets sent to your spouse’s employer, and it is incumbent upon them to see to it that each pay period the support is taken out your spouse’s check and sent to you. It is calculated from their gross income, but paid from their after net income. Your spouse doesn’t pay it to you, the employer will, and it is processed through WI SCTF system. There may be some initial time delay with receiving the support payments, but once several come through, you should expect to receive regular and periodic payments coming through, in the same manner as your spouse gets paid at work. If they are paid bi-weekly, you will receive the payments bi-weekly.
If your spouse is self-employed, in that case, your spouse will be ordered to directly pay child support through WI SCTF. That is where people usually have problems, as now that you are dependent on your spouse to make the payments, if they do not pay, you will have to follow up and bring them in on a contempt motion. While not every self employed individual plays games with not following the support orders on payment for child support, many such individuals use the opportunity to play games and not pay the support when ordered out of spite.
There are some modest processing fees that have to be paid with setting up an initial support order. The court will explain what those charges are and they generally range in the $50 to $65 amount.
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