Pursuant to 767.511 of the Wisconsin Statutes when the court enters a judgment for annulment, divorce, legal separation or an order regarding paternity, it must order one or both of the parties to pay reasonable child support. Child support is paid from one parent to the other and is intended to finically support the expenses for the child or children for food, clothing, housing, utilities, transportation and personal care and healthcare. The parties may come to an agreement for the amount of child support or else use a fixed statutory guideline.

In general, the court is required to determine the support payment based upon a percentage standard that is created by the Department of Children and Families. The percentage is based upon the parent’s income, the amount of time each parent spends with the children and whether a parent is providing support for the child. The standard guidelines direct that support payments be 17% of income when there is one child; 25% of income for two children; 29% of income for three children; 31% for four children and; 34% of income for five or more children. The court may deviate from the standard guidelines after making specific findings. Please see future posts about deviation from the standard guidelines.
In cases where each parent has placement for at least 25% of the time, the court may use shared-placement guidelines. This is a deviation from the standard guidelines and the court will order support based on the time each parent cares for the child. The parent’s share of placement and income are used to determine the amount of actual support. In this case, the court will require each parent to pay variable costs, which include any child care, tuition or needs of the child.