Milwaukee Child Support Professionals

When your livelihood, and the livelihood of your family, depends upon child support, you need the professionals

Under Wisconsin's child support laws, you have certain rights.   These rights include:

1.   The right to a full and fair determination of the payer's gross income.

At a child support hearing, you are not required to accept a sloppy, hand-written financial disclosure form from the payer, completed in the minutes before the hearing starts.   Self-employed payers present special problems because, many times, self-employed payers keep shoddy or incomplete financial records-- and, in extreme cases, they may even keep fraudulent records.   This is where an attorney is of particular help to you.  Wisconsin's Rules of Civil Procedure apply with equal force to family law cases.  Under these rules, your attorney can employ a number of methods to assure that support is set based upon an accurate and complete disclosure of the payer's financial circumstances.   Under the child support statute, "gross income" includes all income from wages, bonuses, overtime, investment income, and "cash payments" from side jobs.   Your attorney may send the payer a set of written interrogatories (questions) which must be answered in writing and under oath within thirty days.  The payer may not stonewall the process by refusing to answer.  Under such circumstances, the court will issue an order compelling the discovery.   If the payer continues to stonewall, he or she may even be jailed.   Typically, interrogatories will be accompanied by a demand for production of documents.   The procedure may require the payer to produce business records, bank statements, and tax returns.  Many times, the process will be completed by scheduling the payer for a deposition.  At a deposition, the payer will be placed under oath and he or she will be orally interrogated by the attorney, and the responses will be recorded by a court reporter.

2.  The right to have support calculated based upon Wisconsin's child support percentage standard.

If you appear at a child support hearing unrepresented by an attorney, you are at a distinct disadvantage.  When this occurs, the payer's attorney will frequently make an offer to pay child support that is significantly below the statutory child support standard.   Wisconsin child support law calculates child support based on a percentage of the payer's gross income.  Unless you are represented by an attorney, you have little chance of accurately evaluating the fairness of an offer to pay child support.   Although the court has to obligation to make sure that the child support order is "fair", the court cannot advocate for your best interests.  If you tell the judge that you are willing to accept an offer, it is very likely that the court will accept it as being "fair".

3.  The right a court order commanding the payer to seek work if he or she is unemployed.

What if the payer is unemployed?   You do not have to simply accept the payer's claim that he or she cannot find a job, or that he or she has decided to "retire" or to "go back to school."   When one has the legal obligation to support a child, Wisconsin's child support laws do not simply permit the payer these luxuries.   Under such circumstances, the court will order the payer to "seek work" by making a number of applications per week, and maintaining a log of the applications.  Again, the refusal of the payer to follow such an order may be punished by the court, which may include jail. 

4.  The right to the assistance of the court in enforcing child support orders.

Many parents eventually become frustrated and defeated by the payer's repeated refusal to pay under a valid child support order.   "Nothing ever happens," the parents complain.   Although the State of Wisconsin does have an interest in compelling the payment of child support, the work load simply exceeds the ability of the state to respond.   But you are not required to simply wait in line for your turn to have a support order enforced.   You can, and should, file a contempt motion almost immediately upon realizing that the payer is neglecting his or her obligation. A lawyer can be very helpful to you in this situation.  Again, the court will enforce a child support order by use of its contempt powers.  Contempt powers include the ability to jail the recalcitrant payer.    Once a commitment to jail is ordered, the payer will almost always miraculously find a way to pay.  

5.  The right to have child support modified whenever there has been a substantial change in the payer's financial circumstances.

A child support order is not permanent.   In fact, child support may be raised or lowered any time there has been a substantial change in the payer's financial circumstances.   The law requires the payer to provide financial information each year to the parent with primary placement.  The law presumes that there has been a substantial change in financial circumstances after 32 months have passed.  Again, this is a circumstance where a lawyer can be very helpful to you in drafting a motion to modify child support.

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