Changing a Child Support Order

April 1, 2009

Rising unemployment means that many people are unable to meet their court-ordered obligations.   Recently, The New York Times published an article about the effect of the economic downturn on child support payments.   http://tinyurl.com/dnfad4 

In Wisconsin, either parent (the recipient or the payor) may request that the Court review a child support order upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.  This means that something significant must occur with respect to the financial situation of either parent in order for the Court to revisit the issue.  The law presumes that a substantial change in circumstances occurred if more than 33 months have passed since the most recent revision of a child support order.

If the parents agree that the child support should be modified, that agreement can and should be made into an enforceable court order.  If the parents do not agree, then the party requesting the change must file a formal motion with the court requesting the change.  Then, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether or not there has been a substantial change in circumstances, and if so, whether or not the support order should be changed.

It is important to note that in the vast majority of circumstances, a Wisconsin Court is not allowed to make retroactive revisions to a child support obligation.  Therefore, time is of the essence if a parent believes he or she is entitled to a change in the support obligation.

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