– from Matthew Q. in St. Francis, WI

Question Details:

My wife and I divorced several years ago and she was awarded custody of our two children. However, the children have spent most of the time with me. She was awarded child support but because I have primarily taken care of the children, I was unable to support them physically and still pay the full amount of child support to her. I fell behind. Now we decided that I will have custody of the children, and she will pay me support. Will I receive a credit toward the arrearage?

Family Law Attorney Response:

You may be eligible for a credit but it really does depend on several factors. You must keep in mind that, overall, you do owe this money. Even though the children stayed under your care, this was a choice made that does not reflect on the court ordered child support payments. You possibly could have made a motion when this was happening long ago but now there are numerous ways this could play out in court.

In the case of Greenwood v. Greenwood 129 Wis. 2d 388, 385 N.W.2d 213 (Ct. App. 1986), a similar situation occurred and the court decided that a credit should be given toward the arrearages and a limited the award of interest. The wife appealed, and the court of appeals reversed the credit and the limit of interest.

I would advise you to contact a family law attorney to discuss the details of your case and to come up with a plan before you proceed with your motion.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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