– from Todd L. in Milwaukee, WI

Question Details:

My girlfriend and I are going through a support battle. We have been separated for a while now, and she has been raising our child. We have already determined that she will have custody of our daughter, and I will pay support. However, I only work part-time and I need that money to help pay for my schooling. I am being told that a good portion of my income will have to go toward arrearages due to her getting financial assistance from the state. Can I be ordered to pay money I need for school?

Family Law Attorney Response:

In some cases, yes. It really depends on how the court views your position. I do not have enough specific information to tell you anything for certain. It will depend on several factors. Some factors include whether you live at home or on your own, whether you pay room and board (cost of living expenses), how much you clear, etc.

I can give you an example based on the case of State v. T.J.W. (In re Paternity of R.L.M.) 143 Wis. 2d 849, 422 N.W.2d 890 (Ct. App. 1988). In this case, the father was ordered to pay $40 per week out of his $87 per week he made. $12 per week to go for support and $28 to pay back the state. His position was met with the court’s reasoning that his desire to pursue his schooling did not outweigh his responsibility to support his child. It was also reasoned that the state should not bear the brunt of supporting his child because of his desire to remain in school, no matter how noble the cause.

I'd suggest getting in touch with a qualified family law attorney with more specific details about your situation.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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