Wisconsin has adopted income limits to determine each category, and developed two formulas designed to compute the amount of child support to be paid to parents with pay that falls within the lowest-income and highest-income brackets. [Sources: 1]
In Wisconsin, child support payments are based on a paying parents income, along with how long each parent has had their children, and if a parent is supporting children in another relationship. Where parents split custody of the children for at least 25% of the time (92 nights or more a year), an assessment can be appropriate, with each parent being ordered to take the primary cost of child support proportionate to the amount of time each parent has custody (each paying things as long as he/she has the children). In cases where courts have agreed to use a shared-placement formula (the order must specify that the parents will share placement of their children with the parents for at least 25% of the time (at least 92 nights/year)) and the courts have ordered each parent to assume the child’s basic support costs in proportion to the time the parents have placement of the children, the percentage standard from the standard guidelines is used. [Sources: 1, 4, 5]
In cases where courts agree to use the lower-income formula, the Percentage Standard used in the Standard Guidelines, which is applied to a parents paid income in order to determine an appropriate amount of child support, is lower. If gross income is not sufficient to determine the appropriate child support obligation, then assets of the paying parent can be used to augment the parents income for purposes of child support calculations. A child support order may include annual adjustments in payments to account for changes in the earning power of the paying parent–but only when the support amount in the order is fixed dollar amounts and is based on the percentage standard. [Sources: 1, 4, 5]
Otherwise, parents have to file for a modification if they wish to modify the support amount based on changes in one parents income (more on this below). Wisconsin judges will not make modifications unless they find that there has been a significant change in circumstances (such as significant changes in either a parents income or in a child’s needs) since the existing support order went into effect. The court can order an exception from child support guidelines, requiring the parent to pay more or less than an estimate created from the percent-of-income standard. [Sources: 3, 4, 5]
For example, if a couple has three children together, and all children reside with one parent, the other parent is required to pay child support equal to 29 percent of their total monthly income. Child support is determined through a formula that takes into account a parents income, the number of children they have together, and the arrangement in which they are placed. If a noncustodial parent has gross income of $3,000 per month, his or her estimated child support obligations will be $510 per month for a single child (3000 x.17 = 510), $750 for two children (3000 x.25 = 750), $870 for three children (3000 x.29 = 870), etc. Child support may also be estimated by multiplying monthly incomes by percent of gross for the number of children who need support. [Sources: 0, 4, 7]
If a parents gross income is over $7k per month, or $84,000 annually, a separate calculation is made for higher-income parents. If a payor who has a child makes $11,000 per month, he or she is due 17% of $7000, plus 14% of any remaining $4000 he earns. When the monthly gross income of a payer is $1,610 or less, he is considered to be a low-income payor, and courts can use the following guidelines. [Sources: 6, 7]
These guidelines presume both parents are responsible for supporting their children regardless of whether they reside together or are living separately. Whether you are seeking payment or are worried about whether you are obligated to make payments, it is important to know that both parents should be providing financial support to their children. The support amounts are based on the assumption that the receiving parent is already paying to care for and support their child. [Sources: 2, 5]
For the most part, these calculators assume that all children in question would live mostly with a single parent. These calculators do not account for any potential adjustments for children who are not the focus of a custody order, but live with one parent. Keep in mind that variable expenses, such as child care, school fees, special needs, and some activities, are not included in a shared placement calculator, and would be ordered separately, depending on lists provided by the parties. [Sources: 3, 6]
If a receiving support parent–known as a recipient–receives significant amounts of government aid, child support agencies will not approve payments below a recommended formula. The child support enforcement agency may place a monthly 0.5 percent interest charge on past-due child support amounts, or, if there is an income withholding order, require the payees employer to keep as much as 150 percent of the support amount until the support is paid in full. The court may also target the parents minimum salary and calculate the support based on how much the parents income would have been had he worked 35 hours per week at the minimum wage. [Sources: 4, 7]
After considering different factors, such as balancing conflicting goals of providing for a childs needs while ensuring a living standard that is adequate to a paying parent, as well as acknowledging that setting child support standards cannot be a solely scientific exercise, the authors of the Wisconsin percent-of-income standard set support rates for a paying parent. [Sources: 1]
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Steven Lassiter, an acclaimed divorce attorney from the heart of Texas, traces his roots back to a modest, blue-collar family from the small town of Lubbock. Born on August 12, 1980, his father was a mechanic and his mother, a dedicated teacher. The importance of perseverance and the pursuit of truth were instilled in him at an early age, shaping his character and forging his path to law.
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