How do I modify my child support?

Newborn baby hand with parent hand during child support modification caseThough it may seem like it at the time of your divorce or child custody proceedings, child support payments are not set in stone.

When child support can be modified

In Wisconsin, there are several circumstances that can be the basis for modification of child support payments, including:

  • If the amount of child support has not been reviewed in the last 33 months;
  • If medical costs change for the child or the parent paying child support;
  • If the earning status of the payer has changed;
  • If the child “ages out” of child support (after graduation of high school);
  • If one party moves a significant distance away from the other;
  • If the placement schedule has changed.

Examples of some of these circumstances could include if the payer becomes disabled and experiences a change in income, if the physical placement schedule (commonly called child custody, though the two are not exclusive as discussed in our recent post) changes to give a party more time with the child, or one party moves to another state making it difficult for one party to see the child.  With this in mind, remember that physical placement and the amount of child support do not always go hand in hand.  One party should NEVER withhold a child support payment because they are not seeing the child; this decision can have serious legal consequences (as your attorney can inform you).

How child support modification happens

There are three ways to modify your child support payments:

  • Make an agreement about the amount of child support with the other party in your child support and submit the necessary paperwork (more information and forms are here). The court usually approves the amount, as long as it is not significantly below the amount specified by the state.
  • Ask the child support order to be reviewed by the state (the amount could increase or decrease if you request a review). The amount of child support is calculated based on the payer’s income, number of children, and other factors. Child support can be provided in the way of funds, insurance, and other ways deemed by the authorities.
  • Ask the court to change the order (if the two parties cannot agree).

Modifying your child support payments does have legal ramifications (and the risk of payments increasing or decreasing).  If you are concerned about the process or consequences, contact a local, experienced lawyer for information specific to your child support case.

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