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In 2024, Wisconsin will introduce significant updates to its child support laws, aiming to accurately reflect each parent’s financial capabilities and the actual time spent with the child. These 2024 Wisconsin child support law updates will revolutionize the way child support is calculated, benefiting both parents and children alike. Are you curious about how these changes may affect you and your family? Read on to learn more about the exciting new provisions in the 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law overhaul.

Adults with child discussing Child support laws Wisconsin

What is Child Support in Wisconsin?

Child support arises in Wisconsin when the Court orders child support, usually after entering a judgment for divorce or judgment in a parental paternity court case. Child support is based on both parents’ financial information that is submitted to the court, and each parents’ educational levels obtained, each parents ability to provide for and pay child support through their job or other means such as investment portfolios, other relevant financial means, and other relevant factors that the court will determine. The parties, both parents, can stipulate to the amount of child support to be paid from one parent to the other parent as a specific percentage of the paying parents gross income. Usually only one parent pays child support, but the court in its discretion can order both parents to pay child support primarily looking at the best interests of the child. Both parents have a continuing duty to financially support their child or children until they reach age 18.  

Understanding the 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law Overhaul 

The 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law updates seek to more accurately reflect parents’ financial abilities and actual time spent with the child, which can been forced by the local child support agency. There are three main changes to be aware of: embracing the Income Shares Model revisions, prioritizing actual parenting time, and the systematic inclusion of healthcare costs.

We will examine these updates and their potential benefits for Wisconsin families.

Embracing the Income Shares Model Revisions

The Income Shares Model, which determines child support based on the combined income of both parents, will undergo significant revisions to address shortcomings in handling parents’ incomes and financial obligations. These modifications aim at a more balanced distribution of support, as factors such as the income of both parents, the cost of the child’s daycare and health, and where the child resides primarily will be taken into account.

Parents may receive a child support services letter informing them of these changes, which include updated calculations to provide more equity to shared child support obligations and the consideration of incarceration as involuntary unemployment when determining child support obligations under the child support program. Hence, the revised Income Shares Model aims to better depict each parent’s financial situation, resulting in benefits for the child and more accurate child support orders.

Prioritizing Actual Parenting Time

One of the key updates in the 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law is the increased consideration of actual parenting time in child support calculations. This modification advocates for a balanced division of financial responsibility, ensuring that the amount of time a child spends with each parent is factored into the child support calculations.

The new law takes into account the income of each parent and applies appropriate guidelines to determine the financial obligations. Besides, there is an assumption of equal parenting time between parents, which can be disputed, which can further contribute to a fair distribution of financial responsibilities in a child support case.

Documenting actual parenting time can have an effect on child support rates in Wisconsin, as it is incorporated into the proportion of parental income that the child should receive.

Systematic Inclusion of Healthcare Costs

Another significant update in the 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law is the systematic inclusion of healthcare costs in child support calculations. Both parents are obligated to provide health insurance for their child or children, separate from spousal support. The new law will incorporate healthcare costs by including medical support orders in addition to child support, provided there is sufficient additional evidence to support the claim.

Under the 2024 law, healthcare costs encompass medical and health care expenses not covered by insurance, such as dental, orthodontic, and eyeglasses costs. Both parents are obligated to share these costs, which are calculated based on their monthly gross income. This ensures that both parents contribute to their child’s medical expenses, promoting a more equitable distribution of financial responsibilities.

Comprehensive Income Considerations for Child Support

The2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law will also encompass all income sources for child support calculations, such as:

  • Income from a job
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Other financial resources

A three-year average will be used to establish actual income for calculations, addressing income fluctuations like overtime and bonuses, providing a more stable and accurate representation of parents’ financial capabilities.

Tackling voluntary underemployment is another significant feature of the revised law. If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed without a valid reason, the court may impute an income level based on work history and qualifications, ensuring that both parents contribute fairly to child support.

Three-Year Average for Stable Calculations

Employing a three-year average in child support calculations offers a more dependable and precise portrayal of a parent’s financial situation over a prolonged period. This approach is particularly beneficial for parents with fluctuating incomes, such as overtime and bonuses, as it averages them over a three-year period.

Considering a parent’s income over a three-year span, the 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law ensures that child support payments are equitable and consistent, ultimately benefiting the child.

Addressing Voluntary Underemployment

Voluntary underemployment occurs when a parent deliberately diminishes their income or works fewer hours than usual without a legitimate cause to prevent paying a larger amount of child support. In such cases, the court may ascribe income to the parent based on their earning capacity rather than their actual income, ensuring that both parents contribute fairly to child support.

The court considers multiple factors to ascertain if a parent is voluntarily underemployed, such as the parent’s work history, occupational qualifications, and recent employment potential. This approach guarantees that child support obligations accurately reflect each parent’s financial capabilities, promoting a more equitable distribution of financial responsibilities.

Do I Have To Pay For My Child’s Health Insurance In Wisconsin?

In addition to determining child support amounts to be paid by one or both parents, both parents have a duty and obligation to provide health insurance for their child or children. The court may order one of the parents to be responsible for paying the health insurance costs of the child.

How Much Will I Pay In Child Support in Wisconsin?

The Percentage Standard for Sole Custody in Wisconsin

In the state of Wisconsin, the percentage rates for Child support are based on state statute. If a child or children primarily reside with one parent (primary) and the other parent is solely responsible for the child or children’s care through paying child support. Child support is calculated based on what is called the percentage standard, meaning that the paying parent’s gross income will be multiplied by the following child support standards provided by Wisconsin State Statute:

  1. 17% of gross income is multiplied by the paying parent’s gross income when there is only one child.
  1. 25% of gross income is multiplied by the paying parent’s gross income when there are two children.
  1. 29% of gross income is multiplied by the paying parent’s gross income when there are three children.
  1. 31% of gross income is multiplied by the paying parent’s gross income when there are four children.
  1. 34% of gross income is multiplied by the paying parent’s gross income when there are five children or more.
Calculating Wisconsin Child Support

For example, Mom has primary custody of her five children that Dad fathered. Mom and Dad divorce, the Court will calculate child support using Dad’s monthly gross income of $5,000.00. Dad will pay Mom 34% of his monthly gross income to Mom for child support, which is $5,000.00 x 34% = $1,700.00, Dad will pay Mom $1,700.00 per month.  

*Note parents who have joint or shared custody of the child or children will have their child support calculated differently, compared to where only one parent has primary custody as listed above.  Generally speaking, joint custody child support is calculated based on the number of overnights a parent has with the children and other factors, that we will not address in this article. Contact one of our highly experienced and talented Family Law attorneys at O’Flaherty Law today to have a consultation for any child support issues you are facing.

Deviation From the Percentage Standard

Child support is almost always calculated on a percentage standard of the gross incomes of both parents. Sometimes, the percentage standard is not utilized when it would be unfair to one of the parents or child or children, if the Court in its discretion that it would be unfair to one of the parents or child or children, the Court will depart from the percentage standard and weigh the following factors:

  1. The child’s financial resources
  1. Both parent’s financial resources such as income from a job, savings, investments, and other financial accounts such as 401K accounts and pension accounts that may be available to the parents.
  1. Any spousal support (alimony) that one of the parents receives from the other.
  1. The needs of each parent to support themselves.
  1. If the parents were married the standard that the child would be accustomed to had the divorce not occurred.
  1. The need for a parent to remain in the real property as a full-time parent who does not work.
  1. The costs of child care such as daycare or the determination of the value of the parent staying at home to parent the child and not work.
  1. The periods that the child is present with both parents and whether or not both parents have custody.
  1. Physical mental emotional psychological needs of the child or children.
  1. The educational needs of the child.
  1. The cost of health insurance for the child.
  1. The tax situation for both parents.
  1. The earning capacity of the parents based on their job career education work experience and or ability to make income.
  1. Most importantly, the best interests of the child.

If the Court decides to deviate from the percentage standard for the computation of child support and that the percentage standard for child support payments is unfair to one of the parents or the child or children, the Court will make a finding on the record stating the amount that would have been calculated using the percentage standard and the amount that the court decided to deviate from the percentage standard based on weighing the above factors and state its reasoning behind why it choose to do so.

If for any reason you need to modify your child support payments, there are ways to do so.

Wisconsin Trust Funds In Child Support

The Court can at its discretion place the child support funds or a portion of the child support funds in a trust fund for the support welfare education and well-being of the child or children.

Length of child support Wisconsin

How Long Will I have to Pay Child Support in Wisconsin?

Usually, the paying parent will have to pay child support until the child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 in Wisconsin. Sometimes, child support payments will end once the child reaches age 19, if the child is 19 and pursuing a high school diploma or GED program.

If your ex-spouse refuses to pay child support, they face consequences and potentially jail time.

You are not alone when facing divorce and child support issues. Our Wisconsin attorneys can help you every step of the way. If you need assistance on your child support issues, please feel free to give us a call at (630)-324-6666 or fill out our confidential contact form and a member of our team will be in touch with you.  

Adjustments for Low-Income Families

The 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law also caters to the needs of low-income families, ensuring that child support obligations, including those who owe child support, do not create undue financial hardship. Adjustments and provisions have been made to consider the financial circumstances of low-income families, such as lowering child support payments based on income levels and the ability to pay.

These adjustments guarantee equitable child support obligations for low-income families by adjusting the child support obligation of low-income payers in accordance with the federal poverty guidelines, as detailed in Appendix C of the law. This ensures that children from low-income families receive adequate support without causing undue financial burden on their parents.

Enforcement and Compliance Measures

Enforcement and compliance measures will be bolstered to guarantee that parents fulfill their child support obligations and that children receive the necessary support. These measures include assistance for low-income noncustodial parents participating in a work program with paying child support arrears, as well as child support funds allocated to support low-income families in meeting their child support obligations.

Pilot programs, such as the interest rate reduction program in Wisconsin, which reduced the interest charged on arrears from one percent per month to point-five percent per month, will also be implemented as a state-mandated local program to support parents in meeting their child support obligations. These enforcement and compliance measures ensure that children receive the financial support they need while encouraging parents to fulfill their child support obligations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will child support automatically stop at 18 in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, child support payments will automatically stop at 18, unless the child is still attending high school or working on a GED program. If past-due support is owed, then the child support case remains enforceable.

Does child support continue through college in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, child support continues until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school.

What is the average child support payment for one child in Wisconsin?

The average child support payment for one child in Wisconsin is determined by the Wisconsin Child Support Standard Percentage.

How much back child support is a felony in WI?

Failing to provide child support for 120 or more consecutive days can be classified as a Class I felony in Wisconsin.

What are the main changes in the 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law?

The 2024 Wisconsin Child Support Law has introduced significant changes, including revisions to the Income Shares Model, prioritizing actual parenting time, and systematically including healthcare costs in child support calculations.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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