Modify Wisconsin Child Support Orders

To modify child support in Wisconsin you must establish a substantial change of circumstances. Wisconsin family courts consider a significant change any of the following:

  • Change in your Income
  • Chang in the Recipient's Income
  • Needs of the Child Changed


It's not uncommon for circumstances to change that may require the child support order to be adjusted. If you feel like your child support order needs to be adjusted, the first thing you should try doing is talking with the other parent of your child.

When can Child Support be Changed in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has a 33-month waiting period from the date of the last support calculation. For example, if you and a spouse agreed to support on April 1, 2019, you can't file to modify support until January 1, 2022

Are there exceptions to the 33-month wait period?

Yes. A parent can also request that the order is modified if there has been a significant change in circumstances. The process is easier if both parents agree on the changes. If an agreement cannot be reached, you'll need to go to court and seek to modify your original child support agreement. It is not worth asking the court to modify it if you can't make a strong case for a significant change in circumstances Including:

  • The noncustodial parent's pay increases
  • The noncustodial parent's health changes – usually from normal to bad
  • The custodial parent's income changes
  • The health of the custodial parent changes
  • The health/medical needs of the child changes
  • The needs of the child changes
  • The custody arrangement changes
  • A parent is placed in jail

Estimate Child Support Payments

Get some clarity and estimate your child support payments here. Use our child support calculator to understand what your child support payments may look like based on your desired placement schedule and income level.

Are there some situations that won't justify a change to the support order?

Yes. A noncustodial parent can't voluntarily quit their job or force the employer to fire them. The change in pay level must be legitimate. Before you spend the time and resources to attempt to modify child support, understand the following common examples that are unlikely to lead to a change:

  • Failure to allow visitation to the non-custodial parent. If you are not receiving visitation rights that were agreed upon in the original custody hearing, courts can reinforce the custody agreement. But the court will not change the support order.
  • Change of circumstances for the custodial parent. Just because financial circumstances have changed either positively or negatively, it is unlikely the court will determine an increase or decrease in support is appropriate.
  • An arrearage in child support payments.
  • The custodial parent legally moving the child without violating the custody agreements, the court will not consider this as a factor to change child support.

How is the change to the support order made?

  • The parents can agree to the change amount. They can then file the necessary papers or online forms to make the change.
  • The parent who wants the change can formally request that a change be considered by the appropriate court

The change is effective only:

  • When both parties agree, the forms are completed, and a new order is signed
  • When there is a new court order after a court review

Can the Court Take Away Already Awarded Support?

The best course of action would be to talk to a family attorney and prepare an appeal.

Although a property division is not subject to the court's continuing jurisdiction and may not be modified based on a change of circumstances, sec 806.07 gives the court discretionary authority in grant relief from the judgment. In the case Thorpe v. Thorpe 123 Wis.2d 424, 367 N.W.2d 233 (Ct. App. 1985), a husband attempted to appeal the judge's award of part of his pension proceeds to his wife. The judge knew of the ability to relieve someone of their judgment, but needs more than a change of circumstances.

References: How Child Support Agencies Decide to Proceed on a Request to Review a Case, Thorpe v. Thorpe 123 Wis.2d 424, 367 N.W.2d 233 (Ct. App. 1985)

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