It’s almost Father’s Day, the time of year when we honor dads throughout Wisconsin and the nation for their role in supporting their kids as they grow. Unfortunately, if you are a father separated from your child’s mother, your legal standing as a father may not seem as clear, especially when you’re figuring out where you stand on issues like child support and custody/placement.
Do your research about father’s rights in your state.
Don’t assume that the general information you find online about fathers’ rights or child custody applies to you. The rights of fathers can differ from state to state; find out where you stand in Wisconsin by contacting a local lawyer experienced in family law. Often, the first consultation with a lawyer is free; use these tips to make the most of your initial appointment with your lawyer.
Be aware that your child support amount may not be final.
Many fathers don’t know that the amount of child support can be adjusted, but be aware that this request comes with a risk. Requesting an adjustment can increase or decrease the amount of child support you owe in the future. You can ask your lawyer for more information if you are considering making the request.
If a parent decides to move with the child, the move may trigger a change in your custody agreement, including an adjustment to child support, visitation, or physical placement of the child.
Visitation, custody, and placement do not necessarily impact your child support.
This is a key misconception that the amount you see your children (or don’t see your child or children) plays a role in the amount of child support you pay. Child support payments can be used for costs related to sheltering the child (i.e. mortgage, rent, utility bills, etc.) or expenses directly related to the child’s care (i.e. clothing, food, etc.) Non-cash child support can also be ordered in the form of health insurance. Child support is not always determined by physical placement; the amount and party ordered to pay is decided by the court.
Stopping child support payments can have serious legal consequences.
Always consult your attorney before you stop child support payments, such as if you are concerned about the lack of visitation you are receiving. Most courts hold you accountable for child support even if you are not seeing the child. Failure to make child support payments can land you in legal hot water and even lead to your arrest; consult your lawyer before you take this drastic step.