Raising a child is expensive. The most commonly cited figure for raising a child from birth to age 18 in the United States is approximately $250,000. Of course, this can vary according to many factors, one of which where you live. Here in Wisconsin, the cost of living is cheaper than it is on the coasts. But no matter where you live, the added expenses of having a child in your household can quickly add up. As a custodial parent, you will need a large enough home to house your child, a sufficiently-sized, reliable vehicle, and larger grocery and utility bills than you would have if you lived along as well as your child’s individual expenses, such as school supplies and enrollment in extracurricular activities. After a divorce, the parent with whom the child lives for the majority of the time is responsible for these expenses. To lessen the financial burden that the custodial parent faces, the other parent may be required to pay child support.
In Wisconsin, child support orders are handled by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Typically, the court orders that a noncustodial parent of one child pay 17 percent of his or her gross income to the custodial parent in child support. For two children, this figure is 25 percent, and it raises with each subsequent child. This is used in cases where the noncustodial parent has the child for less than 25 percent of the time, which comes out to 92 overnight visits per year.
But this is not always the case. The amount of child support one parent pays to the other can depend on various factors like the income disparity between the parents and how much time the child spends in each household. When parents share custodial time with their children more evenly, the court uses a formula based on the family’s specific circumstances to determine an appropriate child support amount.
If you are a parent who pays child support and you cannot afford your payments or if you are a parent who receives child support and you find yourself in need of more money to cover your child’s needs, you can petition to the court to have your child support amount modified. For paying parents, this is far preferable to becoming delinquent on your child support obligation and facing penalties like jail time and a driver’s license suspension. If you are facing financial hardship, discuss this possibility with your attorney.
If you are a parent considering divorce, child support will likely be a part of your divorce settlement. To learn more about how child support is calculated in Wisconsin and an approximate amount of child support you can expect after your divorce, speak with one of the experienced Appleton family law attorneys at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC during your free legal consultation with us. Contact us today to start working with a member of our team.