If your are enrolled in a federal or state public assistance program, your local support and welfare agency will refer you to the child support agency for free service.
If you are not currently receiving public aid, you can pick up an application for child support service at the local child support agency. You may also download an application from the Internet at the Wisconsin Child Support Website (see next page). If you are not receiving public aid, you will be asked to pay a one time fee of twenty dollars to requester for services.
Establishing Paternity for Wisconsin Child Support
If your child was born while you were married, then the husband is the legal father of the child. If the child’s parents are not married, paternity will need to be established prior to the court ordering child support.
Parents can establish paternity by filing a voluntary paternity acknowledgment form with the state. You can find this form at the hospital where your baby is born and from the local child support agency (see website below on the next page).
The parents can also create a legal document establishing paternity. See the local child support agency for assistance in creating the document. Finally, the courts may issue a legal decision on the child’s paternity. If there are any doubts regarding a child’s paternity, genetic testing may be performed. Establishing paternity guarantees child support, medical support, rights and inheritance from the father.
Locating A Non-Custodial Parent for Wisconsin Child Support
In some cases, before you can collect child support payment from your child’s other parent, you may need assistance in locating that parent. Wisconsin’s statewide computer system, the Kids Information Data System (KIDS), is designed to automatically check computer databases for information about parents who owe child support. For example, the KIDS system can search unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation records for information about the non-custodial parent. The Federal Parent Locator Service, may also be used to perform a nationwide search of information collected federal and state agencies.
Establishing Wisconsin Child Support Order
Wisconsin’s court system will issue a court order for child support and set the amount due by the non-custodial parent. Courts generally require parents to pay a specific dollar amount that is calculated as a percentage of their income. The court may also order one or both of the parents to carry medical insurance for the children or pay medical bills.
The basic guidelines require a paying parent to pay a dollar amount equal to:
17% of his or her gross income for one child
25% for two children
29% for three children
31% for four children
34% for five or more children
If the non-custodial parent works for cash, it may be difficult to determine income and establish child support payments that are fair to all parties. In these cases, the court may use the minimum wage based on a 35-hour workweek or the non-custodial parent’s "ability to earn" to set the amount of child support ordered. The “ability to earn” is determined by the parent’s education, job skills, local wages as well as the job openings in the area. The income a parent has the "ability to earn" may be higher than his or her actual earnings.
The court will take special circumstances under consideration if the standards child support guidelines would be unfair to the child, you or your child’s other parent.
Parents that do not pay court ordered child support may be subject to a number of actions from the Wisconsin child support agency. The overdue child support may be reported to credit bureaus and may be garnished from tax refunds, and lottery winnings. A lien can be placed against the non-custodial parent’s titled property and bank accounts. The child support agency can also request the denial or suspension of the non-custodial parent’s recreational, occupational and drivers’ licenses from other state agencies.
Failure to obey a court order to pay child support can also result in a hearing for contempt of court and a jail sentence if the order is violated again. In extreme cases, the district attorney may bring criminal nonsupport charges against the non-paying parent.
Modifying Wisconsin Child Support Orders
Wisconsin’s Bureau of Child Support will review your child support order at either parent’s request, every three years. Using the current child support guidelines, the agency will determine if the payments required by the child support order are too high or too low. They will adjust the payment amount accordingly. If either parent does not agree with the modified order, the court may decide the matter.
A review of your child support order can be requested more often than every three years if there has been a substantial change in the financial or custodial circumstances for either parent. For example, changes that would warrant a child support review include the change or loss of a job, or a change in the child’s custody.
Obtaining Information About Your Child Support Payments
Wisconsin’s KIDS Information Line provides you with information on your payments and the collections of child support. Also provides information about applying for services and general child support information. You can access the information at:
1.(414) 615-2400 Metro Milwaukee area 2.(800) 991-5530 toll free outside the Metro Milwaukee area 3.(877) 209-5209 toll free TDD 4.Or on the Internet (see below for website)