When parents come in to speak with us about paternity matters, they are often unclear about what orders the court will and will not make at that first hearing in regard to their child. They don’t know what to expect at a first hearing on a paternity hearing in Wisconsin. So long as there has been a determination of who the legal father is of the child, the below list are the items that parents should be prepared to address and present their positions on at a first paternity hearing:
- Physical Placement. The court will determine where and with whom the child actually resides if the parents have not made agreements on their own.
- Legal Custody. The court will determine if one parent or both parents are capable of making major decisions for the child (such as where the child will go to school, what religion the child will practice, etc.).
- Child Support. The court will determine what, if any, financial support will be paid by one parent to the other to help support the child. There is a statutory formula which is used to calculate child support using the parents’ gross incomes and the number of overnights the child spends with each parent. You should bring proof of your income to this hearing.
- Child’s Last Name. The court can order that the child’s last name be hyphenated to include both parents last names if both parents wish for the child to have their last names.
- Tax Exemption. The court can authorize who has the right to claim the child tax exemption for a certain tax year so both parent’s do not claim the child tax exemption.
- Medical expenses/Insurance. The court is required to allocate the responsibility to provide health insurance to one of the parents pursuant to certain statutory requirements. If neither party meets those statutory requirements, there will be discussions regarding alternate sources of insurance. Also, the court can, and usually will, order responsibility for uninsured medical expenses, including those related to the birth of the child.
Please be aware that if the court has not made a determination of who the legal father is, the first hearing may not include any or all of the above issues as there may be additional steps necessary, such as genetic testing, that have to happen before the court can determine who the father is. The court typically will not make orders on the above-listed issues until there is a legal determination of who the father of the child is.
Additionally, if the State of Wisconsin brings the action, or is part of the action, the hearing may involve more issues, such as a repayment for birthing expenses.
If your case is in one of our practice areas, please visit our website at www.nkmfamilylaw.com or contact us at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free initial consultation.