All parents have a responsibility to financially support their children. Wisconsin's child support program helps ensure that children receive the financial support they need.
Services of the Dane County Child Support Agency are free.
There may be additional charges for individual services such as the Tax Intercept Program or Genetic Testing.
The services available from the child support program include the following:
If the mother of the child is not married to the father of the child, the Agency can help legally determine the identity of the child's father. This process is called "establishing paternity." Establishing paternity guarantees a child's right to receive financial support, medical support, and inheritances from the father. It also guarantees the father's rights to visitation with the child, make decisions for the child, placement with the child, and in some circumstances, financial support for the child.
The length of time it takes to obtain a judgment of paternity depends on what steps will be necessary to complete the process. If a man admits paternity and signs papers declaring himself to be the father, then the process is very fast. Frequently, however, it is ordered that genetic testing be done to confirm that a man is the father of a child; this can take a month or so to schedule and receive the results. If there is a trial by jury, it may take months to be scheduled and heard by the court.
A way to legally establish paternity that does not require the services of the Child Support Agency is for both parents to complete a "Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement" form. However, filling out this form does not establish a child support order in and of itself. For more information about this form, you may call any local hospital, the Register of Deeds office, or the Child Support Agency.
A child support order cannot be obtained without either 1) judgment of paternity, 2) genetic testing which establishes a 99% or greater likelihood of paternity, or 3) a filed Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity and subsequent motion to the court for child support.
The Agency can try to find absent parents by using the State Parent Locator Service if you provide the parent's name and social security number. If the absent parent has moved to another state, the Agency can ask the other state to find him/her. The Agency can also search throughout the United States for the absent parent by using the Federal Parent Locator Service.
A court hearing cannot be held to establish or enforce support unless the absent parent has been properly served with a notice of the hearing.
The Agency can assist in obtaining a child support order against a parent who is not living with and directly supporting his or her child. This can be in a situation where parents are married but separated and not pursuing a divorce, or a situation where paternity was established but no support order made (because the parents were living together at the time), or in a situation where a child is temporarily placed in foster care or an alternate care placement.
The Agency will investigate how much the other parent earns and determine how much child support would be under the percentage standards. The Agency uses the State Percentage Standards (DCF 150) to determine support unless there is a good reason to deviate from them. The Agency will attempt to get an agreement from the other parent to pay support. If no agreement is reached the Agency will file a motion to establish that support.
The Agency has a number of tools to enforce court orders for child support or medical support.
Enforcement tools include:
The Agency may review and consider whether to pursue a revision of an existing child support order upon a request by either parent. The Agency uses the State Percentage Standards (DWD40) to determine support unless there is a good reason to deviate. Pro-se (do it yourself) motion packets are available from the Dane County Court's Form page.