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Determining Child Support When a Parent is Voluntarily Unemployed

Posted on in Family Law

voluntarily unemployed, child support, Milwaukee family law attorneys, non-custodial parent, Wisconsin child support calculationsWhether married, unmarried, or divorced, parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their children. Parents must ensure that their children have the resources needed on a day-to-day basis, including food, shelter, clothing, and other basic requirements.

Child support is based on the income that a parent earns, and it is typically paid by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent. When parents experience an increase or decrease in the amount of income they earn, they should be sure to understand how these changes will affect their child support obligations.

Wisconsin Child Support Calculations

Wisconsin uses a “percentage of income” standard to determine child support payment amounts. A paying parent’s child support obligation is calculated using a percentage of his or her gross income that is based on the number of children being supported. The following percentages are used to determine Wisconsin child support payments:

  • One child: 17 percent;
  • Two children: 25 percent;
  • Three children: 29 percent;
  • Four children: 31 percent; and
  • Five or more children: 34 percent.

When setting child support, courts may use additional guidelines to determine the amount of support if a parent earns a low or high income, if placement of the children is shared by both parents (meaning children stay with each parent at least 25 percent of the time), or placement of children is split between the parents (meaning one or more children stay with one parent, and one or more children stay with the other parent).

Factors Considered in Voluntary Unemployment

If a parent seeks to reduce the amount of child support he or she is required to pay by quitting his or her job, working part-time rather than full-time, or otherwise becoming voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, then the court may base child support obligations on the parent’s imputed income, or the income that he or she is able to earn. Imputed income is determined based on:

  • The parent’s education, job training, and recent employment experience;
  • The income the parent earned in previous periods of employment;
  • The parent’s current physical and mental health;
  • Whether the parent has a history of child care responsibility, such as remaining in the home to care for children rather than seeking full-time employment; and
  • The employment opportunities in or near the parent’s community

Courts may also impute income from the assets that a parent owns, including real estate, life insurance, bank accounts, business interests, investments, or workers’ compensation benefits.

If a parent with a child support obligation loses his or her job, changes jobs, or otherwise experiences a change to the income he or she earns, the parent is thus required to inform his or her child support agency within 10 days. The loss of a job does not affect a child support order. Therefore, if a parent expects that he or she will be out of work for longer than six to eight weeks, the parent can ask to have the court review and modify his or her child support obligation.

Contact a Milwaukee, WI, Child Support Lawyer

If you suspect that your children’s other parent is seeking to reduce his or her child support payments through voluntary unemployment, or if you have experienced a job loss that affects your ability to meet your child support obligations, the attorneys of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help you reach a resolution that will protect your and your children’s financial needs. Contact our Milwaukee, WI family law attorneys today at 414-271-1440.

Sources:

https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/files/publications/pdf/824.pdf

https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/files/publications/pdf/32.pdf

http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/admin_code/dcf/101_199/150

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

330 East Kilbourn Avenue
Suite 1170
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Phone: 414-271-1440
Fax: 414-271-7680
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