Attorney Kathleen Reiley, S. C., Milwaukee WI Divorce Family Law Lawyer Custody Support Paternity Mediation Collaborative Divorce Litigation

About | Contact Us | Map & Directions | Call Today! (414) 369-6309

30 Years Of
Successful Practice

Wisconsin Support Laws

Family Support, Maintenance & Child Support

The common and legal terms used to refer to various types of support can cause confusion. Simply put, Wisconsin law recognizes three types of support payments: child support, family support or maintenance. It is also possible to agree to section 71 payments, a creation of the internal revenue code, which the court can order if the parties have stipulated to them, but the court cannot order them unless the parties have stipulated to them. You should discuss section 71 payments with your attorney before making a decision.

Under the laws of the state of Wisconsin, parents owe a duty to support their children (child support), and in some instances, owe a duty to support his or her former spouse (maintenance) or both (family support). While Wisconsin law provides for three types of support: child support, family support and maintenance, the IRS refers to maintenance as alimony.

Family Support

Family support is a combination of maintenance and child support that does allocate an amount for either.

For information about establishing a family support order, please refer to family support. For information about enforcing a support order that already has been ordered by a court, refer to post judgment enforcement of maintenance orders.

[More about Family Support] [Enforcing a child support order]


Maintenance can be ordered if the couple is/was married after the application of statutory factors to promote the support of the parties and fairness to each. Maintenance terminates on the death of either party and usually on the remarriage of the recipient spouse.

Maintenance shall be fully deducted by the payor and fully included as income by the payee on their respective income tax returns.

Also refer to maintenance for information about establishing an order, or post judgment enforcement for information about enforcing a previously entered order.

[More about Maintenance] [More about Post Judgment Enforcement]

Child Support

Child support is paid after a child is born to or adopted by a couple and after a petition is filed for child support and an order is issued.

In a paternity action, child support and the birth expenses (hospital, doctor, room, post-birth medical care) can be charged to the payor retroactively to the date of the birth of a child if certain factors are present. This can result in a substantial arrearage that can affect tax refunds (through intercept programs) and the right to get or use a passport. Otherwise, child support orders are not made for the period of time prior to the filing and service of a motion to modify child support.

Child support is never includible to the payee's income or deductible to the payor.

Child support provides information about establishing a child support order and how the amount is calculated. Post judgment enforcement provides information about enforcing a previous child support order.

As of October 1, 2008, child support payees will pay a $25.00 (twenty-five dollar) annual administrative fee deducted from support paid after they receive $500.00 (five-hundred dollars) in support for the fiscal year (October 30 thru September 30). It will be in addition to the payor's $65.00 (sixty-five dollars). It will not be charged to families who are receiving W-2 cash payments, Kinship Care benefits, Caretaker Supplement (CTS) benefits or Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

As of December 1, 2008, and as a result of the creation of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the renaming of the Department of Health Services, there are several Wisconsin administrative rules that will have their codes and numbers changed effective December 1, 2008. The section that is of most concern to parties with minor children are:

DWD 40 Child Support Percentage of Income Standard will be DCF 150.

DWD 41 Establish Paternity for a Non marital Child will be DCF 151.

[More about Child Support] [More about Post Judgment Enforcement]

Tax Advantages

The Internal Revenue Code references alimony. Maintenance is alimony for purposes of the IRS. Maintenance can be used as a tax device to keep more marital dollars available to the family as a whole.

Call Attorney Kathleen Reiley (414-369-6309) or send Kathleen Reiley an email.

Top of the page