Wisconsin child support is established using a formula that accounts for each parent’s income and percentage of time s/he spends with the child.  However, if the court determines that employing the guideline child support is unfair to the child or either of the parents, the law allows the court to deviate from the guidelines. To do so, the court can consider several factors.  Three factors that are frequently invoked to justify a deviation from guideline child support are:

(a) The financial resources of both parents.

(b) The cost of child-care if the custodian works outside the home, or the value of custodial services performed by the custodian if the custodian remains in the home.

(c) Extraordinary travel expenses incurred in exercising the right to periods of physical placement.

Example #1: If the children are living primarily with mother in Wisconsin and father is living in California. Per the Order, father has visitation time in Wisconsin during summer break, it is foreseeable for him to incur significant travel costs such as flight tickets, hotels, etc. to visit the children. As such, offsetting the travel costs from guideline child support seems justifiable.

Example #2: If mother is responsible for the health insurance premiums for the children through her employer’s plan, then the premiums she pays for the difference between her individual plan and the individual + the children plan should be accounted for when calculating the child support, either a downward deviation if she is the payer, or an upward deviation if father is the payer.

Example #3: The non-custodian parent is required to pay $1,000 as child support per the guideline, and the custodian parent incurs $1,800 for daycare expenses for having to work outside the home full-time. These expenses can be applied as a deviation from the presumptive amount of child support.

It is imperative that you consult a specialized family law attorney to evaluate your case scenario to see if a deviation from guideline child support is warranted. Our firm does family law exclusively, feel free to schedule a free consultation with us at (608)-709-5000!

***This article is drafted by Associate Attorney Cecilia Ju and she can be reached at

Published by David Kowalski

Attorney David Kowalski is the founding owner of Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC, handling all family law cases from divorce, paternity, child custody, termination of parental rights, restraining orders, and guardianships.

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