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How is Child Support Calculated in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, both parents are responsible for providing for the care and needs of their children. Often, a child will reside primarily with one parent while the other parent has regular visitation. Although both parents must support their children, the non-custodial parent is often required to pay child support. Many people wonder how child support is calculated and how much they can expect to pay for support of their child in Wisconsin.

Estimating Child Support

Wisconsin has a basic calculation that is used for determining child support payments. It is important to note that you should use the basic calculations as an estimate only since the actual amount will be determined in court and may be impacted by additional factors. Calculations depend on the income of parents, the custody and visitation arrangement, and the number of children. Special circumstances may warrant variations from standard calculations.

Shared Placement

Most families in Wisconsin fall under the category of shared placement. Shared placement calculations are used when both parents have court-ordered placement of their child at least 25% of the year, which equates to 92 days. The incomes of both parents are reviewed to determine support. The court will assign a percentage of support based on the portion of placement.

Assignment of support is a percentage of income. For one child, support is 17% of income. For two children, support is 25% of income. There is a formula and worksheet that will help you estimate the amount of child support based on basic factors. If you have more than two children, you must refer to the chart to find the percentage of income that applies.

Split Placement

Split placement occurs when one parent has primary custody of one or more children, and the other parent has primary custody of another child or children. Split placement can make child support calculations more challenging. In split placement with two children, the percentage is 12.5% of income for each child. With three children, the percentage is 9.67% for each child. With four children, the percentage is 7.75% of income for each child. For five children, the percentage is 6.8% of income for each child.

Special Circumstances

Special circumstances apply to those with higher-than-average incomes and lower-than-average income levels. In high-income circumstances, different guidelines apply to the first $84,000 of income, for income between $84,000 and $150,000, and for income over $150,000 per year. Low-income guidelines apply to parents who have income levels between 75% and 150% of the federal poverty level. The federal poverty level is adjusted yearly in the spring.

Factors the Court May Consider

When determining child support, the court generally utilizes standard calculations. However, each case is different, and there are some factors that the judge may use to decide child support. Some of these include costs for child care, the health needs of the child, the earning capacity of each parent, and whether a parent has children they support from another relationship, among others. The court will always make decisions that are best for the child.

If you are going through a divorce or are involved in a custody case, we are here to help. Contact us at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or online to schedule a consultation.

Published April 15, 2024
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