CAN I WAIVE CHILD SUPPORT?
No. Wisconsin child support is paid for the benefit of the child. Parents cannot waive support on the child’s behalf. Parents’ financial situations change over time, as do a child’s needs. Expenses for a 6-year old are much different than for a teen. The law preventing a permanent waiver of child support exists to ensure that when children’s needs change, they are met properly by the parents.
Wisconsin child support is not required, however, if the parents make an alternate agreement. There are several ways to defer or structure support payments. This is common when both parents have sufficient income at the time of the agreement to meet the child’s needs without child support. Sometimes child support can also be structured to provide tax savings for the parents. Such agreements must be very carefully drafted, however, to comply with Wisconsin child support law. No matter the type of agreement, child support can always be changed if the situation requires.
DOES WISCONSIN CHILD SUPPORT APPLY TO ADULT CHILDREN?
Child support ends when a child reaches the age of majority (18), or 19 if he/she is still in high school, whichever is latest. Parents have no obligation to support a child after majority, even if the child is disabled or has special needs. Parents can enter enforceable agreements to support an adult child, usually while the child is in college. The judge cannot order this kind of support without an agreement between the parents. Parents who wish to do so must clearly understand their obligations. I have had to appeal cases in which a parent who made this agreement was suddenly presented with a bill for thousands of dollars in college costs. Agreements to support an adult child must be very carefully drafted and reviewed so the parent knows what he/she is getting into.
DOES WISCONSIN CHILD SUPPORT END AUTOMATICALLY AT 18?
Yes and no. Wisconsin child support is supposed to end once the child becomes an adult. However, child support agencies do not closely monitor this rule. Several clients have continued to have their wages garnished for child support even after the child reached adulthood. Without a court order, the child support agency may continue to garnish the wages. To avoid this surprise, it is best to notify the agency and obtain a order, in advance of the child’s 18th birthday, stating that support ends on the correct date.