In Wisconsin child support is calculated according to a schedule published in the Wisconsin Administrate Code and required by the Wisconsin Statutes. The first step in the process is to determine the gross income (i.e. before any deductions or tax withholding) of the parent paying child support. Income includes all money earned by the parent from wages, investments, fees, and the like (anything on which you would be expected to pay income tax). This, of course, includes overtime.
Once the payer's gross income is determined, child support will be set according to the following percentages:
One child: 17% Two children 25% Three children 29% Four children 32%
The formula becomes more complicated when one of the following circumstances exist: (1) the parent paying child support is a "serial payer" which means he is paying child support for two or more children with different mothers; (2) there is a shared placement schedule; or, (3) the child has exceptional needs.
In the case of a serial payer, the child support for the second or subsequent child is determined by taking the gross income of the parent and then deducting the amount of child support paid in the first case. This gives us the "adjusted gross income". The child support percentage is then applied to the adjusted gross income.
The calculation is also made more difficult where there is a shared placement schedule. Shared placement is where the child lives with each parent for nearly equal time ("50-50" placement). When this occurs the income of the parents is compared and then the percentage amount is applied to the difference. The parent with the lower income will receive child support.
Finally, the court may deviate from the percentage standard where one or more of the children have exceptional needs such as unusual medical or educational expenses.
Child support is one of the few orders that is not final in the judgment. A party may file a motion to modify support any time there has been a substantial change in financial circumstances. Although a "substantial change in financial circumstances" is not susceptible to a firm definition it generally means that there has been a change in financial circumstances that makes a difference.
__________________________________ Schiro & Zarzynski Personal Injury Attorneys Milwaukee, WI 53203 414.224.0825
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