Wisconsin Wage Garnishment: Wisconsin Child Support Garnishment

Child support garnishment in Wisconsin begins after a noncustodial parent’s employer is served with an order of support. In addition to child support collection payments, the noncustodial parent will be required to pay the agency annual Receipt and Disbursement (R&D) fees. While the employer is typically only responsible for enforcing child support garnishment, if the noncustodial parent fails to pay the R&D fees, the court will order the employer to withhold for these fees as well. For a Wisconsin employer, making timely payments to the issuing agency is of paramount importance. This article provides a summary of Wisconsin wage garnishment law.

Wisconsin Child Support Collection

In Wisconsin, an order of support may include both child support and spousal support. When the noncustodial parent is assigned an order, the order may list the payment due as either a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s wages or as a specific amount. Sometimes the order will list both and will specifically instruct whether the greater or lesser of the two must be remitted to the agency. Support orders may only be fixed as a percentage of the employee’s income if the state is not a party to the order, the employee is not subject to an additional support order, and all of the payment obligations in the order are expressed as a percentage. This is a relatively new requirement; if the employer receives a Wisconsin order with payment obligations expressed as a percentage, they should check with the issuing agency to be sure the numbers are correct and up to date.

In addition to the order for support, the noncustodial parent is required to pay annual receipt and disbursement (R&D) fees, which may be garnished from the noncustodial parent’s wages if they fail to pay.

Who Withholds the Money 

The noncustodial parent’s employer or administrator of other income will be served with a copy of the support order, and is bound by law to garnish the noncustodial parent’s wages or other income until the order is satisfied or terminates. An “employer” may include any branch of government. An “administrator of income” is deemed to include any administrator of a pension plan, workers’ compensation, or third-party sick pay insurance. In addition, an employer or administrator of income may receive an order to withhold for the noncustodial parent’s unpaid R&D payments. This order is as binding as the original support order and mandates withholding of wages or income to fulfill the amount obligated.

When is Money Withheld 

When an employer receives an order for support for one of their employees, they should begin remittance of payment no later than the first pay period that occurs five working days after the date on the support order. The employer should continue this practice for each payment due, and remit no later than five days after the employee’s payday. Likewise, when an employer receives an order for unpaid R&D payments, they must withhold for these in the first pay period that occurs after they receive the notice. Employers should send payment to the department or the designee, whichever the support order mandates.

With each payment, the employer should report the employee’s gross income from which the deduction was made. If the order includes a health care payment, the employer should send payment to the appropriate health care provider. If the order for support does not state an amount to withhold for each pay period, the employer may not accumulate deductions and send in one monthly payment. Instead, they should multiply the monthly amount due by twelve, and divide that amount by the number of pay periods in a year. 

Wisconsin child support payments can be made either by check or Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Wisconsin encourages employers to remit support payments by EFT, and accepts both the Cash Concentration and Disbursement (CCD+) format and the Corporate Trade Exchange (CTX) format. Payments may be combined, but the employer should send along a list identifying each payment. R&D payments must be made by check, and sent separately from the support payment. The employer should fill out the R&D form and send it in along with the check. On the R&D form, the employer should list each employee they are making payment for, and the amount withheld for each.

Both R&D and support payments should be made payable and sent to the Wisconsin Support Collections Trust Fund (WISCTF):

WISCTF

Box 74400

Milwaukee, WI 53274-0400

Out-of-State Orders 

Wisconsin adheres to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which means that all Wisconsin employers must honor an order for support that they receive from out of state. Both the out of state laws and the laws of the employee’s work state govern different elements of the order. To determine the withholding limits, how disposable earnings are defined, when to begin withholding, when to remit withholding, proper administrative fees, how to allocate orders when an employee is served with two or more, and what must be reported when employment ends, the employer should follow the laws of the employee’s work state. To determine the duration of the order and the amount and where to send payment, the employer should follow the laws of the state that issued the support order.