Are section 71 payments modifiable in Wisconsin? global $post;
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– from Theresa W. in Wauwatosa, WI

Question Details:

When my husband and I were divorced, we agreed to a stipulation that would waive a maintenance award in lieu of periodic section 71 payments. However, when my husband lost his job, he stopped paying. I know he received severance, so he had the money. Further, he has begun receiving payments from his retirement pension. Can I make a motion to show cause and increase the payment award?

Family Law Attorney Response:

There are many different ways this could play out in court. To answer your primary question, no, section 71 payments are not modifiable. Further, courts do not usually recognize severance as an income subject to the section 71 payments.

This was demonstrated in the case of Fessler v. Fessler 147 Wis. 2d 1, 432 N.W.2d 103 (Ct. App. 1988). It was ultimately decided that the husband’s severance was not subject to section 71 payments, that section 71 payments were not modifiable, and that the husband was not in contempt. This is only an example, however. Your case will be decided on its own merits.

My advice is to speak directly to a family law attorney right away. Perhaps an alternative motion can be made.

Lawyer Jeff Hughes from Sterling Law Offices, S.C.
Jeff Hughes, J.D.

Managing Partner

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