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How Child Support is Calculated in Wisconsin

Whether you are seeking payments or worried about your obligation to pay, both parents are responsible for providing child support in Wisconsin. A court can order one or both parents to pay child support that is either necessary or reasonable.

In most cases, the parent with less than 50% of physical custody is the one who has to make the payment. Since the parent with majority custody is already paying for the care and support of the child, this does not mean that the other parent receiving the payment does not contribute anything financially.


Child support payments are based on the income of the paying parent. Income is considered all earnings from all sources.

Wisconsin considers the following sources to be income:

  • Wages, earnings, salaries, commissions, tips, and bonuses related to employment
  • Interest and capital gains from property or investments
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
  • Workers’ compensation benefits or personal injury awards designed to replace income
  • Military allowances and veterans benefits
  • Voluntary retirement contributions

In cases where a parent isn’t employed, then a court can still assume an income for that parent based on other factors. For instance, if a parent is unemployed or underemployed intentionally to avoid making payments for child support, then a court can take a look at past earnings, education, history of child care responsibilities, current job openings, as well as current physical and mental health to figure out the amount this parent should be earning to support a child.

How Much Child Support Must I Pay?

The amount of child support ordered by the court will depend on the amount of placement that you have with your child.

If you have less than 25% placement with your child, then your child support will be based on the following percentages of your gross income:

  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children
  • 34% for five or more children

If you have more than 25% placement with your kid, then the court will order support based on both parent’s incomes and the amount of placement that each party has with the child. Although this formula reduces the amount of actual child support one parent must pay, it obligates both parties a shared variable expense which is proportionate to their percent of placement.

To schedule a free consultation, contact our Madison divorce attorney at Balisle Family Law Legal Counsel, S.C. today.