In an action for revision of a judgment or order providing for child support under s. 767.59
or an action in which an order for child support is required under s. 767.511 (1)
, 767.805 (4)
, or 767.89 (3)
, the court shall order an unemployed teenage parent to do one or more of the following:
Pursue or continue to pursue an accredited course of instruction leading to the acquisition of a high school diploma or its equivalent if the unemployed teenage parent has not completed a recognized high school course of study or its equivalent, except that the court may not order the unemployed teenage parent to pursue instruction if the instruction requires the expenditure of funds by the unemployed teenage parent other than normal transportation and personal expenses.
History: 2005 a. 443
; 2007 a. 20
Annual adjustments in support orders. 767.553(1)(a)(a)
An order for child or family support under this chapter may provide for an annual adjustment in the amount to be paid based on a change in the payer's income if the amount of child or family support is expressed in the order as a fixed sum and based on the percentage standard established by the department under s. 49.22 (9)
. No adjustment may be made under this section unless the order provides for the adjustment.
An adjustment under this section may not be made more than once in a year and shall be determined on the basis of the percentage standard established by the department under s. 49.22 (9)
In the order the court shall specify what information the parties must exchange to determine whether the payer's income has changed, and shall specify the manner and timing of the information exchange.
(2) Form for stipulating.
If the court provides for an annual adjustment, the court shall make available to the parties, including the state if the state is a real party in interest under s. 767.205 (2) (a)
, a form approved by the court for the parties to use in stipulating to an adjustment of the amount of child or family support and to modification of any applicable income-withholding order. The form shall include an order, to be signed by the court, for approval of the stipulation of the parties.
If the payer's income changes from the amount found by the court or stipulated to by the parties for the current child or family support order, the parties may implement an adjustment under this section by stipulating, on the form under sub. (2)
, to the changed income amount and the adjusted child or family support amount, subject to sub. (1) (b)
The stipulation form shall be signed by all parties, including the state if the state is a real party in interest under s. 767.205 (2) (a)
, and filed with the court. If the stipulation is approved, the order shall be signed by the court and implemented in the same manner as an order for a revision under s. 767.59
. An adjustment under this subsection is effective as of the date on which the order is signed by the court.
Any party, including the state if the state is a real party in interest under s. 767.205 (2) (a)
, may file a motion, petition, or order to show cause for implementation of an annual adjustment under this section if any of the following applies:
The payer's income changes, but a party refuses to sign the stipulation for an adjustment in the amount of child or family support.
If the court determines after a hearing that an adjustment should be made, the court shall enter an order adjusting the child or family support payments by the amount determined by the court, subject to sub. (1) (b)
. An adjustment under this subsection may not take effect before the date on which the party responding to the motion, petition, or order to show cause received notice of the action under this subsection.
Notwithstanding par. (b)
, the court may direct that all or part of the adjustment not take effect until such time as the court directs, if any of the following applies:
The payee was seeking an adjustment and the payer establishes that extraordinary circumstances beyond his or her control prevent fulfillment of the adjusted child or family support obligation.
The payer was seeking an adjustment and the payee establishes that the payer voluntarily and unreasonably reduced his or her income below his or her earning capacity.
The payer was seeking an adjustment and the payee establishes that the adjustment would be unfair to the child.
If in an action under this subsection the court determines that a party has unreasonably failed to provide the information required under sub. (1) (c)
or to provide the information on a timely basis, or unreasonably failed or refused to sign a stipulation for an annual adjustment, the court may award to the aggrieved party actual costs, including service costs, any costs attributable to time missed from employment, the cost of travel to and from court, and reasonable attorney fees.
Nothing in this section affects a party's right to file at any time a motion, petition, or order to show cause under s. 767.59
for revision of a judgment or order with respect to an amount of child or family support.
Nothing in this section affects a party's right to move the court for a finding of contempt of court or for remedial sanctions under ch. 785
if the other party unreasonably fails to provide or disclose information required under this section or unreasonably fails or refuses to sign a stipulation for an annual adjustment.
Upon a judgment of annulment, divorce, or legal separation, or in rendering a judgment in an action under s. 767.001 (1) (g)
, the court may grant an order requiring maintenance payments to either party for a limited or indefinite length of time after considering:
The age and physical and emotional health of the parties.
The educational level of each party at the time of marriage and at the time the action is commenced.
The earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to find appropriate employment.
The feasibility that the party seeking maintenance can become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage, and, if so, the length of time necessary to achieve this goal.
The tax consequences to each party.
Any mutual agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage, according to the terms of which one party has made financial or service contributions to the other with the expectation of reciprocation or other compensation in the future, if the repayment has not been made, or any mutual agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning any arrangement for the financial support of the parties.
The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other.
Such other factors as the court may in each individual case determine to be relevant.
History: 1971 c. 220
; 1973 c. 12
; 1977 c. 105
; 1979 c. 32
, 92 (4)
; 1979 c. 196
; Stats. 1979 s. 767.26; 2005 a. 443
; Stats. 2005 s. 767.56.
While arrearages under a temporary order for alimony and attorney fees and costs that the husband is required to pay do not constitute part of a wife's division of the estate, they are a charge against the entire estate. Tesch v. Tesch, 63 Wis. 2d 320
, 217 N.W.2d 647
An obligation to support children is a factor in determining the amount of maintenance payments. Besaw v. Besaw, 89 Wis. 2d 509
, 279 N.W.2d 192
The trial court abused its discretion by denying a mother's choice to remain at home to care for small children. Hartung v. Hartung, 102 Wis. 2d 58
, 306 N.W.2d 16
The trial court abused its discretion by terminating maintenance without sufficiently addressing the factors under this section. Vander Perren v. Vander Perren, 105 Wis. 2d 219
, 313 N.W.2d 813
Compensation for a person who supports a spouse while the spouse is in school can be achieved through both property division and maintenance payments. Lundberg v. Lundberg, 107 Wis. 2d 1
, 318 N.W.2d 918
The trial court may begin its maintenance evaluation with the proposition that the dependent partner may be entitled to 50% of the total earnings of both parties. Bahr v. Bahr, 107 Wis. 2d 72
, 318 N.W.2d 391
The trial court may not consider marital misconduct as a relevant factor in granting maintenance payments. Dixon v. Dixon, 107 Wis. 2d 492
, 319 N.W.2d 846
It was improper to discontinue maintenance payments to a former wife solely upon the ground of her cohabitation with another man. Van Gorder v. Van Gorder, 110 Wis. 2d 188
, 327 N.W.2d 674
Three formulas were approved for calculating maintenance or property division awards in cases in which one spouse has contributed to the other's pursuit of an advanced degree. Haugan v. Haugan, 117 Wis. 2d 200
, 343 N.W.2d 796
An alcoholic spouse's refusal of treatment is relevant to the trial court's determination regarding a request for permanent maintenance. DeLaMatter v. DeLaMatter, 151 Wis. 2d 576
, 445 N.W.2d 676
(Ct. App. 1989).
Military disability payments may be considered in assessing ability to pay maintenance. Weberg v. Weberg, 158 Wis. 2d 540
, 463 N.W.2d 382
(Ct. App. 1990).
The trial court's use of a computer program to analyze financial evidence was not error. Bisone v. Bisone, 165 Wis. 2d 114
, 477 N.W.2d 59
(Ct. App. 1991).
An award may be based on a percentage of the payer's income in "unusual circumstances." Unpredictable future income warrants a percentage award. Hefty v. Hefty, 172 Wis. 2d 124
, 493 N.W.2d 33
Maintenance furthers two objectives: 1) to support the recipient spouse in accordance with the needs and earning capacities of the parties; and 2) to ensure a fair and equitable financial agreement between the parties. In the interest of fairness, maintenance may exceed the recipient's budget. Hefty v. Hefty, 172 Wis. 2d 124
, 493 N.W.2d 33
Maintenance is measured by the parties' lifestyle immediately before the divorce and that they could anticipate enjoying if they were to stay married. The award may take into account income increases the parties could reasonably anticipate. Hefty v. Hefty, 172 Wis. 2d 124
, 493 N.W.2d 33
A maintenance award must account for the recipient's earning capacity and ability to be self-supporting at a level comparable to that during marriage. It is unfair to require one spouse to continue income production levels to maintain the standard of living of the other who chooses a decrease in production. Forester v. Forester, 174 Wis. 2d 78
, 497 N.W.2d 78
(Ct. App. 1993).
Consideration of one spouse's solicitation to have the other murdered in denying maintenance did not violate the statutory scheme and was not an improper consideration of "marital misconduct." Brabec v. Brabec, 181 Wis. 2d 270
, 510 N.W.2d 762
A maintenance award based on equalization of income is not "self-evidently fair'' and does not meet the statutory objectives of support and fairness. Olson v. Olson, 186 Wis. 2d 287
, 520 N.W.2d 284
(Ct. App. 1994).
An otherwise short-term marriage should not be considered a long-term marriage because there are children. Luciani v. Montemurro-Luciani, 191 Wis. 2d 67
, 528 N.W.2d 477
(Ct. App. 1995).
One spouse's contribution of child-rearing services and family support while the other spouse completed an education program was not sufficient grounds for awarding compensatory maintenance. Luciani v. Montemurro-Luciani, 191 Wis. 2d 67
, 528 N.W.2d 477
(Ct. App. 1995).
Leaving maintenance open due to potential future health problems of one spouse without expert testimony was proper, but failure to limit the order accordingly was improper. Grace v. Grace, 195 Wis. 2d 153
, 536 N.W.2d 109
(Ct. App. 1995), 94-2653
Post-divorce increases in a pension fund valued in a divorce should be treated as an income stream available for maintenance. Olski v. Olski, 197 Wis. 2d 237
, 540 N.W.2d 412
A court may consider earning capacity rather than actual earnings in determining child support and maintenance if it find's a spouse's job choice voluntary and unreasonable. Sellers v. Sellers, 201 Wis. 2d 578
, 549 N.W.2d 481
(Ct. App. 1996), 95-2730
When parties have been married to each other more than once, a trial court can look at the total years of marriage when determining maintenance. The trial court is not bound by the terms of maintenance in the first divorce and may look to current conditions in setting maintenance. Wolski v. Wolski, 210 Wis. 2d 183
, 565 N.W.2d 196
(Ct. App. 1997), 96-0136
A stipulation incorporated into a divorce judgment is in the nature of a contract. That a stipulation appears imprudent is not grounds for construction of an unambiguous agreement. Rosplock v. Rosplock, 217 Wis. 2d 22
, 577 N.W.2d 32
(Ct. App. 1998), 96-3522
The purpose of maintenance is, at least in part, to put the recipient in a solid financial position that allows the recipient to become self-supporting by the end of the maintenance period. That the recipient becomes employed and makes productive investments of property division proceeds and maintenance payments is not a substantial change in circumstances but an expected result of receiving maintenance. Rosplock v. Rosplock, 217 Wis. 2d 22
, 577 N.W.2d 32
(Ct. App. 1998), 96-3522
The trial court's exclusion of pension payments when considering income available to a maintenance recipient was correct when the pension had been awarded to the recipient as part of the property division and had no value outside of the payments made from it. Seidlitz v. Seidlitz, 217 Wis. 2d 82
, 578 N.W.2d 638
(Ct. App. 1998), 97-0824
When a reviewing court finds that a trial court erroneously exercised its discretion in awarding maintenance, the case should be remanded for the trial court to properly exercise its discretion. It was an abuse of discretion for a trial court to assume that a spouse is legally entitled to maintenance. King v. King, 224 Wis. 2d 235
, 590 N.W.2d 480
Equal income division is a reasonable starting point in determining maintenance, but the goal is the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, not 50% of the total predivorce earnings. Maintenance may surpass 50% of the couple's predivorce income, but the payee is not entitled to live a richer lifestyle than that enjoyed during the marriage. Johnson v. Johnson, 225 Wis. 2d 513
, 593 N.W.2d 827
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-2141
Maintenance is not intended to provide a permanent annuity. Generally limited-term maintenance provides funds for training intended to enable the recipient to be self-supporting by the end of the maintenance period, and may also be used to limit the responsibility of the payer to a certain time and to avoid future litigation. Absent a substantial change of circumstances, the parties may rightfully expect no change. The law of change of circumstances should not require a paying spouse to finance unwise financial decisions of the recipient. Murray v. Murray, 231 Wis. 2d 71
, 604 N.W.2d 912
(Ct. App. 1999), 99-1369
Under sub. (9), the contribution by one party to the other's eductions is not limited to contributions that arose only during the marital period. The court may freely consider the total contributions. Meyer v. Meyer, 2000 WI 132, 239 Wis. 2d 731
, 620 N.W.2d 382
It was not error for the trial court to consider under sub. (10) evidence of the parties having lived "separate lives" for much of their marriage. By not equalizing their incomes, the court in effect implemented what the parties had already agreed to in practice. Schmitt v. Schmitt, 2001 WI App 78, 242 Wis. 2d 565
, 624 N.W.2d 14
When a pension is divided by a qualified domestic relations order, and no value is assigned to either spouse's interest to be offset by other property awarded in the property division, a court is not prohibited by double-counting rules from considering pension distributions when determining maintenance. Wettstaedt v. Wettstaedt, 2001 WI App 94, 242 Wis. 2d 709
, 625 N.W.2d 900
A court's authority to order maintenance includes authority to impose obligations on the payee to ensure compliance with the payment order if those obligations are reasonably necessary to effect compliance with the payment order. Finley v. Finley, 2002 WI App 144, 256 Wis. 2d 508
, 648 N.W.2d 536
Sections 767.25 (6) and 767.261 [now ss. 767.511 (6) and 767.531] regarding a fixed amount of interest on child support do not limit the trial court's authority to consider imposing interest on unpaid maintenance. A trial court has discretionary authority under s. 767.01 (1) to impose interest on maintenance arrearages. If the court decides to impose interest, it is under the trial court's discretion to determine the amount to impose. Cashin v. Cashin, 2004 WI App 92, 273 Wis. 2d 754
, 681 N.W.2d 255
The general rule is that maintenance decisions are based on the parties' financial circumstances at the time the determination is made. A financial benefit flowing from one spouse's cohabitation with a 3rd party at the time of divorce is an appropriate consideration in setting maintenance. Woodard v. Woodard, 2005 WI App 65, 281 Wis. 2d 217
, 696 N.W.2d 221
A factual finding that one spouse's cohabitation relationship with a 3rd party was likely to end in the near future, supported by evidence in the record, might be an appropriate basis for disregarding the financial benefit from the relationship if the expected duration was so short that the benefit to the cohabiting spouse would be insignificant. A court's speculation that because a relationship was new and non-marital and could terminate at any time and that the boyfriend had no legal obligation of support was insufficient to support a finding that the relationship was likely to end in the near future. Woodard v. Woodard, 2005 WI App 65, 281 Wis. 2d 217
, 696 N.W.2d 221
The absence of a formal finding of a substantial change in circumstances is sufficient to establish an erroneous exercise of discretion. Hacker v. Hacker, 2005 WI App 211, 287 Wis. 2d 180
, 704 N.W.2d 371
Alcoholism is not equated with the kind of career choice on which the opinion in Forester turns, but is a disease that can limit or destroy an individual's earning capacity. An alcoholic spouse's refusal to obtain recommended treatment may be a relevant factor in a maintenance decision, but unsuccessful treatment is not the same as refusing treatment. Even if the court determines that a history of failed treatment is a relevant factor, the court's award must still reflect a proper concern for both objectives of maintenance - fairness and maintenance. Hacker v. Hacker, 2005 WI App 211, 287 Wis. 2d 180
, 704 N.W.2d 371
The court did not err in awarding maintenance out of the proceeds of a covenant not to compete that arose from the sale of shares determined to be a gift, and not subject to property division under s. 767.61 (2). The payments were in exchange for a service to be performed; refraining from doing business in a way that would be harmful to the purchasers. Grumbeck v. Grumbeck, 2006 WI App 215, 296 Wis. 2d 611
, 723 N.W. 2d 778
In setting maintenance, the trial court should have included in the calculation, income from the investments in which a spouse has a substantial ownership interest. That the entities are not producing income at the time of the divorce does not mean they should not be considered. Wright v. Wright, 2008 WI App 21, 307 Wis. 2d 156
, 747 N.W.2d 690
Parties with marital property agreements are not exempt from maintenance awards. Unless the agreement contains a waiver of maintenance rights as described in sub. (8), a court may conclude that a maintenance award is appropriate. Steinmann v. Steinmann, 2008 WI 43, ___ Wis. 2d ___, 749 N.W.2d 145
Sub. (6) contemplates maintenance being awarded to help a former spouse maintain an opulent standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage. There is nothing requiring that such spouses first have contributed to the household or child rearing to a certain degree. Nor does the statute condition a court's order maintaining that standard of living upon it being the result of both incomes when one party received personal benefits from the use of corporate property. Steinmann v. Steinmann, 2008 WI 43, ___ Wis. 2d ___, 749 N.W.2d 145
The federal tax consequences of divorce. Meldman, Ryan, 57 MLR 229.
No-fault divorce: Tax consequences of support, maintenance and property settlement. Case, 1977 WBB 11.
See also notes to s. 767.59 for decisions regarding postjudgment modifications.
Maintenance, child support, and family support payments; fees.