How is Child Support Calculated in Wisconsin?

Below are the answers to the most common questions about how child support is determined and calculated in Wisconsin.

How much child support will I have to pay?

The amount of child support ordered by the court will depend on the amount of placement that you have with your child(ren).  If you have less than 25% placement with your child(ren) (based on number of overnights over the course of a year)  then your child support will be based on the following percentages of your gross income:

17% for one child

25% for 2 children

29% for 3 children

31% for 4 children

34% for 5 or more children.

If you have more than 25% placement with your child(ren) (based on number of overnights over the course of a year) then the court will order support based on both parents’ incomes and the amount of placement that each parent has with the child(ren).  While this formula reduces the amount of actual child support paid, it obligates both parties to share variable expenses proportionate to their percent of placement.

The exact formula used to calculate child support for a shared placement schedule is complicated and can be found at http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/bcs/order/guidelines_tools.htm

or you can use the following spreadsheet/calculator:

Will the court order child support on my overtime and or second job?

Child support is based upon your gross income from all sources.  This would include part time jobs, overtime and bonuses.

Are there any exceptions to the percentages listed above?

Yes.  If you make $84,000 per year or more, there is a separate “high income payor” formula used by the court.   The first link above will take you to the calculator for that formula or the above spreadsheet also takes into account that formula when calculating child support for shared placement.

If you have more than one child support order, you are considered a “serial payor” and are entitled to credit for any prior orders.

Additionally the court may deviate upward or downward from the percentage guidelines based on a number of factors such as contribution toward health cost premiums, travel expenses or extraordinary expenses.  Each case can present unique circumstances which may warrant a deviation.  The court has wide discretion on whether to deviate.

I pay my child support, do I have to pay extra for activities, daycare and medical expenses?

Regardless of whether you are paying child support according to the shared placement formula or the primary placement formula, both parties are obligated to share equally in any unreimbursed medical expenses.  The court can also allocate the responsibility, and cost, for carrying health insurance for the child(ren).

Variable expenses such as school activities and day care only require a contribution if it is separately ordered by the court or if you are paying support under the shared placement formula.  If you are under a shared placement formula then you are responsible for variable expenses in proportion to the amount of placement time you have.  For instance, if you have your child(ren) 35% of the time, then you are obligated to pay 35% of the variable expenses under the child support guidelines.  The court, however, can also order a party to contribute to variable expenses even if they do not have shared placement after considering certain factors which are set forth in the statutes.

Do I have to provide my spouse or ex-spouse copies of my W-2 and/or paycheck?

If you are paying or receiving support, then yes, you must provide documentation of your current income or risk being found in contempt of Court.

18 thoughts on “How is Child Support Calculated in Wisconsin?

    • You will have to consult with an experienced family law attorney regarding your question as various types of income are treated differently depending on the exact facts of your situation.

    • The same time as child support ends which is when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes second. If the child doesn’t graduate, then the maximum age is 19.

  1. It’s been three years. I have had my kids for one night a week for that time, mainly because I did not have the room or steady place to live. Now, I own a home and each child has their own room. Is that cause enough to justify a change in order? I would like to have my kids 50/50 with their mother. She is against it. Do I have a case?

    • Anytime there has been a substantial change in circumstances, you can seek a modification of the order. It sounds as if you may have grounds. However, I would suggest you seek a consultation with an experienced divorce or family law attorney in your county to go through your facts and get an opinion one way or the other. Good luck!

  2. What happens if my ex refuses to pay his portion of variable costs? Example: we have a 60/40 split. What if he refuses to pay his 40% of day care expenses? What is the process for me to get that money back?

    On the other hand — if he DOES pay — what is the process? Does he write a check every week? Every month? etc.

    • If someone refuses to comply with any part of a court order, including variable expenses, your only option is to file for a contempt motion. However, sometimes the assistance of an attorney is helpful. I often first sent a “warning letter”, citing the court order and providing receipts/documentation with a demand for payment. This often resolves the situation without having to go to court.

      The process for payment is dictated by your court order. We often put language stating exactly how it is supposed to work and when payment is due. However, if your court order is silent on this, the two of you are either going to have to work out an agreement on this or you may have to return to court to get some specific orders on that. Usually, it is a monthly payment.

  3. If I have joint custody of my children and pay for their medical insurance what will my child support payments be? What percentage for 2 children?

    • Child support is based upon the placement schedule (number of overnights) and your income or, in the case of shared placement (more than 92 overnights per year), the incomes of both parties. Joint custody has nothing to do with child support. Also, sometimes you may be given credit for the cost of the children’s health insurance but not always. If you do not have shared placement, then child support starts at 25% of your gross income, although that percentage decreases as your income gets higher (over $84,000 per year). If you have shared placement, then it is a complicated formula which must be calculated based on several different factors. If you want a specific number based on your specific situation, your best bet is to consult with an experienced family lawyer in your area.

  4. My ex is remarried and has 2 additional children with her new husband. She hasnt worked in years because he makes enough to support them – 100k. Does any of his income get considered into the calculation?

    • I’m not sure what your first question is really. However, in answer to your other question, if someone voluntarily takes a pay cut and then asks for a reduction in support, the court will often deny the request. The only exception is if they lose their job through no fault of their own (laid off, injured on the job, position eliminated, etc.) and/or they can show that their new job is a reasonable choice despite the lower pay (couldn’t find another job, will earn more later on, better benefits, fewer hours, less travel, etc.).

  5. At what age can “daycare” payment stop/ or be refused to pay. Example if children are in after school program and age 10 and 12. Does “daycare” in a MSA relate?

    • Daycare is daycare, regardless of age. However, whether to continue a child in daycare after a certain age may be a joint custodial decision under certain circumstances. You should consult with an experienced divorce attorney to go through all of the facts to determine what the options are in this case, one way or the other. Good luck.

  6. My question is I have one child still at home. Got divorced and he only had to pay towards one of the kids insurance. I still receive that amount but it was 50/50. Now only having the 1 at home 100% can I go back to court for the 17%?

    • I’m sorry but it is too difficult to answer your question without more (all) of the facts. I would suggest that you contact an experienced divorce attorney in your area to go through all of the facts with him/her to get an opinion. Most attorneys offer free consultations.

We welcome your comments or questions. We will do our best to try to respond. However, please be advised that we cannot give legal advice in this forum and all communications are for general informational purposes only. Communication should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. This is an open forum and any information you provide may be posted and will not be held confidentially. By posting a comment or question, you are expressly giving consent for the publication of same. If you have any specific legal issues or concerns, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney in the county and state in which you reside.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s