Child custody, placement and support are important concerns for divorcing parents. A common misconception is that parents with 50-50 custody do not have to pay child support.
However, courts generally base child support on the often conflated placement instead of custody. In Wisconsin, the former refers to the children’s physical living arrangements, while the latter covers the right to make legal decisions for them. In either case, 50-50 custody or 50-50 placement, the court may still require one parent to pay child support.
There are specific criteria
Courts adhere to a set of guidelines based on placement, parental income and the number of children each parent supports when determining child support. Other factors taken into account may include money coming in from other assets, such as investments, and a parent’s ability to earn income (as opposed to strictly his or her current income). In a situation with 50-50 placement, the determining factor is usually income since placement is equal.
There are grounds to request a change
In contrast with common belief, child support payments do not remain constant until the set deadline. If both parents agree, they can file a motion to change the child support order. Individuals who do not have their ex-spouses’ consent may still ask to have the order reviewed if the last review was at least three years ago or if there has been a significant change, such as a sudden increase or decrease in one of the co-parent’s pay or a placement change.
A judge may set child support even if both parents have their children for an equal amount of time, especially if one parent makes significantly more or has the ability to make significantly more than the other. However, if circumstances change, a parent may ask the court to revisit the support order.