In a Wisconsin divorce, spousal maintenance or alimony is sometimes ordered to provide support for a spouse who is likely to have difficulty providing for themself without their former partner’s income, perhaps due to their health, childcare responsibilities, or lack of education and work experience. When maintenance is ordered, the paying spouse has an important legal responsibility to make the payments on time and in the full amount. However, they should also be aware of other obligations that are likely to be included in the court order.
How Is Spousal Support Paid in Wisconsin?
Typically, rather than making payments directly to their former spouse, the paying party in a maintenance order will be required to make payments to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) or a party designated by DCF. The recipient of the payments is responsible for ensuring that they are disbursed appropriately to the receiving party. Failure to make full, on-time payments to DCF or their designee can result in enforcement proceedings against the paying spouse.
However, paying spouses should also be aware that in addition to the amount of their maintenance obligation, they may also owe an annual fee in the amount of $65 to the DCF for management of the funds. Additionally, the receiving spouse may owe a fee of $35. As with missed maintenance payments, unpaid fees may be subject to enforcement actions such as income withholding, sanctions, or court intervention.
The paying spouse also has a legal obligation to notify the court and the receiving spouse of certain life changes while the maintenance order is in effect. For example, a change of residential address requires notification within 10 business days. The same is true of a change of employer or a substantial change in income. A report of a change in income may be followed by a petition for modification of the order by either spouse with the goal of reaching a more reasonable payment amount given the changed circumstances.
Additionally, the receiving spouse has an obligation to notify the court and the paying spouse within 10 business days of a marriage to a new partner. When the receiving spouse remarries, the paying spouse can ask the court to vacate the maintenance order, and it is important for them to have the information to be able to do so. Paying or receiving spouses who fail to fulfill their notification requirements may be held in contempt of court.
Contact a Waukesha County Spousal Maintenance Lawyer
If you are uncertain about your spousal support obligations, or if your former spouse fails or refuses to fulfill their requirements, our Milwaukee family law attorneys can help. We provide legal counsel and representation in enforcement and modification proceedings involving maintenance and divorce-related issues. Contact us today at 414-271-1440 to request a free consultation.