A Wisconsin child support modification is possible if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the most recent order. If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree that the child support order should be changed, the judge will rule whether a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. If the judge finds that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the last child support order, the order can be modified.
A substantial change in circumstances can take many forms, but there are a few situations wherein the court will usually agree that there is a basis to modify.
- The placement schedule changes to give one parent more time. In Wisconsin, child support is based on a combination of the gross annual income of the payer and on the parents’ placement schedule. If the payer has fewer than 92 overnights with the child per year, child support will be set at a straight statutory percentage of the payer’s gross annual income. If the payer has more than 92 overnights per year, the child support amount will take placement into consideration. The support payment will decrease based on how much placement time each parent has. If a placement order is changed or modified, the child support order will usually also be modified. Changing the placement schedule to give one parent substantially more time than allocated in a previous order is a change in circumstances that warrants a Wisconsin child support modification.
- There is a substantial change in the income of either party. Again, the “substantial change” language is not strictly defined. However, usually a court will find that there has been a substantial change if the income of either party has changed by 5% or more. Ultimately, whether or not there has been a substantial change in income depends on the specific facts of the case. Keep in mind that, under Wisconsin law, both parents are required to notify the child support agency of a substantial change in income, within 10 days of the change. However, the payer must also notify the recipient of such a change.
- At least 33 months have elapsed since the child support order was put in place. A substantial change is assumed to have occurred if the same child support order has been in place for more than 33 months. This does not mean that a modification of the order will take place automatically. No modification to the child support order will be done unless a motion is filed to change it, and a hearing is held on the matter.
- The needs of either parent, or of the child, have changed. If the parent suffers a significant injury or illness or becomes disabled, this will typically create a basis for the modification or change of a child support order. Also, if a child develops special needs, either physical or mental health related, a motion to change the child support order is warranted.
- A child “ages out” of the child support statutory provisions. In Wisconsin, a child is eligible for support until that child turns 18 or graduates from high school. This means that a payer could be responsible for paying support for a child until the child is 19, if the child is still enrolled in high school pursuing a high school diploma. A child aging out is a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification or change of the previous child support order.
- One parent moves a significant distance away from the other parent. If one parent moves away, this can create hardship for both parents in terms of transporting the child between homes. This situation could be a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification of a child support order.
There are many other scenarios that may cause a court to find a substantial change in circumstances justifying a Wisconsin child support modification. Every case and every fact scenario is different. If you believe that your child support order should be changed, please contact our office to set up a free initial consultation.