The court shall order either or both parties to support a child who is:
- Under the age of 18, or
- Age 18, but less than 19 and pursuing an accredited course of instruction leading to a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Payments for child support are generally intended to include basic support costs including food, shelter, clothing, transportation, personal care, and incidental recreational costs. Under certain circumstances, parents may also be required to pay variable costs (reasonable expenses above basic support costs) in addition to child support, including child care, tuition, a child’s special needs, or other activities that involve substantial cost.
Child support is calculated based upon the percentage standard guidelines established by the State of Wisconsin Department of Children and Families' (DCF) Chapter 150. Not every family situation is the same, so the approach that applies to a specific situation may be somewhat different from the guidelines. The court may order an alternative that is greater or less than the guidelines if the use of the guidelines is unfair to one of the parents or children based on the circumstances, including but not limited to shared-placement, split-placement, low-income, high- income, or serial-family payer circumstances. The percentage standard guidelines have been in effect since January 1, 2004 and are based on the payer’s “gross” (pre-tax) income or earning capacity and the number of children in the payee’s care. The guideline percentage amounts are:
- 17% for one child
- 25% for two children
- 29% for three children
- 31% for four children
- 34% for five or more children
Note: We recommend that you consult with a tax professional to review the tax consequences related to child support payments.
To view the statutes, administrative code, and calculators for child support you may refer to the Family Legal Research section of this site.