Enforcing Child Support in Wisconsin

Enforcing Child Support in Wisconsin

Parents who no longer live together may need to seek court intervention if they are not receiving any financial contributions for their children. Whether a couple was married and is going through a divorce, lived together and broke up, or ended their relationship long before their baby was born, Wisconsin requires that all parents support their children. If a parent is not contributing financially to a child, the parent with primary placement has the right to seek child support through the courts.

No existing child support order in place

If there is no existing order on child support, either parent may request that the court set support, but this is most often done by the parent with more placement or one who needs support.  The other parent will be notified that child support is being sought. The parents will be ordered to exchange financial information so that a proper child support amount may be calculated. In addition, the children’s expenses, such as daycare costs, should also be provided. The parties may either agree to a child support amount and submit their agreement to the court, or, if they cannot agree on a child support amount, they may go to court for a judge to decide.

When judges make a ruling on child support, they use a complex formula.  This formula uses the income of each parent (or their earning ability if not currently employed) and the amount of time each parent spends with the child or children. Judges may modify the results of the formula after they consider the following factors:

  • The child’s financial resources
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage (or relationship) had not ended
  • The physical, mental, and educational needs of the child
  • The parents’ financial resources, earning power, and obligations
  • The age and health of the child
  • The best interests of the child
  • Any maintenance received by either party
  • Whether the parent with primary placement should remain at home as a full-time parent
  • The cost of daycare or the value of childcare provided by the parent
  • Tax consequences
  • The parties’ custody arrangement
  • Travel expenses that may be incurred to visit the children
  • Whether either party is responsible for supporting individuals other than the children (such as elderly relatives)
  • Other factors the court deems relevant

Judges require a full financial picture to determine how much child support is appropriate.

Once the judge decides on a child support amount, the order will be entered and, if a parent fails to meet the child support obligation, that parent is in contempt of court and may face jail time.  If the paying parent fails to pay child support, the other parent must file a contempt action.

Existing child support order

If there is an existing child support order in place, the parent receiving child support payments must gather proof that the paying parent has not met the child support obligation that was previously ordered by the judge. Next, a contempt action must be filed against the paying parent. The contempt action must note the child support amount that was ordered and how many payments the paying parent has missed. If the judge finds that the paying parent is in contempt, that parent may face jail time.

Other methods of enforcement

Rather than force parents to go to court every time a child support order needs to be enforced, judges may ensure that child support is paid in other ways, such as:

  • Withholding child support from paychecks
  • Placing liens on real estate, vehicles, or other types of property
  • Suspending or revoking a driver’s license for failure to pay
  • Denying, revoking, or restricting a passport
  • Intercepting income tax refunds
  • Certifying debts
  • Suspending or revoking professional licenses, or hunting and fishing licenses
  • Reporting the failure to pay to credit bureaus

These methods have been effective in ensuring that paying parents meet their child support obligations.

Contact us if you need assistance with enforcing a child support order

If you need assistance with child support, you need the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.  The attorneys at Bandle & Zaeske have assisted clients in hundreds of child support and custody claims. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your options for enforcement, call 414-359-1424 or contact us online.

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