2018 Wisconsin Child Support Changes (DCF 150 Rule Revisions)

Divorcing couples in Wisconsin should be aware of recent changes to Wisconsin Child Support Guidelines developed by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. DCF 150 Rule revisions, which went into effect on July 1, 2018, are intended to help determine child support payments and apply those guidelines to special circumstances. The new rules also help to clarify the definition of gross income.

How will “Variable Costs” be calculated under Wisconsin Child Support Changes?

The biggest change is in the determination of variable costs. What are “variable costs”?

Under DCF 150.02(29), variable costs are “the reasonable costs above basic support costs incurred by or on behalf of a child, including but not limited to, the cost of child care, tuition, a child’s special needs, and other activities that involve substantial cost.” The parents are responsible for the variable costs in proportion to their placement time (i.e. the parent who has 57% placement time is responsible for 57% of the variable costs).

Previously, the parent with a greater amount of placement time would make more purchasing decisions and may spend more money on the child, incurring expenses without the other parent’s consent. Oftentimes, the other parent would be responsible for his/her portion of the expense without knowing about the expense until after it had been incurred. If they refused to pay the expense, the other parent could file a motion to enforce the court order.

Under the new requirement, there will be a list of variable costs agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court based upon lists furnished by both parties. The new rule also requires that transportation costs are to be included in that list.

Changes to what is considered “Equivalent Care” and calculating “Overnights”

Wisconsin Child Support Guidelines are based upon the number of overnights that a parent exercises with a child. If a parent exercises six hours of consecutive time with a child during the day and includes a meal, then that placement time is considered to be half (1/2) a day. Then, if the parent exercises two of these, it is considered to be equivalent to one overnight.

Under the recent changes, when the court determines the number of overnights, and there are two of these six-hour blocks of time, the number of overnights will exceed 365. Thus, the new calculation consists of adding each parent’s overnights, plus the equivalent care placement days, and then dividing the total number of overnights (by both parents) by the number that each parent has for placement time.

For example, if one parent has 182 overnights and also has two weekdays per week with the children from 1pm-7pm and they receive a meal, then that parent (Parent 1) has an additional 52 equivalent care “overnights.”  Thus, Parent 1 would have 182 + 52 = 234 overnights. Let’s say the other parent (Parent 2) has just the 182 overnights (so, a total of 416 overnights between both parents). The end result is that Parent 1 has 56% placement (234 overnights out of a total 416 overnights between the two parents), and Parent 2 has 44% placement (182 nights out of total 416).

This new calculation better correlates with time spent with children for parents who spend days with their children but have jobs with night shifts such as nurses, doctors, security personnel, factory workers, and such.

Changes to Medical Support under Wisconsin Child Support Guidelines

Under the revised DCF 150 Rule, if the cost of a health insurance plan is less than 10% of the gross income of a party, then it is considered reasonable and the parent shall be required to carry the child on his/her health insurance plan (if the other parent is not already doing so).

Previously, the requirement was that if the health insurance plan was greater than 5% of the gross income of the party, they were not required to carry the children on his/her health insurance plan. Also, this is applied to the full cost of the health insurance policy -- not just the incremental cost of adding each child to the policy.

What are the adjustments in Wisconsin Child Support for a Child’s Social Security?

If a parent receives social security benefits for a child, and the parent is the payor of child support, then the amount of child support that he/she pays shall be either the equivalent of the amount he/she receives for the social security benefit, or the percentage standard of the amount he/she should pay based upon his/her income, whichever is greater.

If the custodial parent receives the benefit payment, then the amount of that benefit is subtracted from the child support obligation as calculated using the appropriate percentage.

What are Income and Benefits changes in Wisconsin Child Support?

If an individual parent has his/her employer make contributions to a pension or retirement account, this contribution is considered “income” for purposes of child support. Also, Veteran’s Disability Compensation Benefits are income when establishing child support.

Let Murphy Desmond’s family law attorneys assist you

The family law attorneys at Murphy Desmond stay abreast of laws surrounding child support and divorce in Wisconsin. Contact our attorneys to learn more about DCF 150 Rule revisions and other family law matters that affect you and your children. 

Published August 29, 2018