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Child Support Attorney in Wausau: Case May Clarify Enforceability of Child Support “Floor”

 In Divorce, Custody & Placement

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court is Scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of May v. May, Appeal No. 2010AP177, on October 6, 2011.  At issue is the enforceability of an agreement by the parties that the father pay a minimum amount of child support for a period of at least 33 months.

Michael May agreed to pay Suzanne May at least $1,203 per month in child support for a period of at least 33 months. But after 17 months, May suffered an involuntary loss of employment, and requested a downward adjustment to his child support obligation.

Child Support Attorney in Wausau Note:

In Wisconsin, agreements to a maximum amount of child support are unenforceable. If there has been a change in circumstances, a parent who is receiving child support can seek an increase in child support payments, even if the parties stipulated to a maximum payment.
The Dane County Circuit Court denied May’s request, concluding that the 33-month “floor” was not against public policy and therefore enforceable. May appealed.  The District IV Wisconsin appeals court certified the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to determine whether stipulations that impose a minimum payment (floor) are unenforceable as against public policy.  In doing so, the appeals court noted that the Supreme Court has never clearly stated whether agreements to minimum child support payments are enforceable.

The appeals court noted inconsistencies in past cases addressing the issue.  In Frisch v. Henrichs, 2007 WI 102, 304 Wis. 2d 1, 736 N.W.2d 85, the Supreme Court said in a footnote: “Stipulating to a minimum amount for a limited period of time does not violate public policy because it ensures that a certain amount of child support is received, which is in the best interests of the children.”

Before the Frisch case, appellate courts had held that a child support floor violates public policy if there is no time limit or opportunity for review, or if the agreement permanently prevents a paying parent from seeking a reduction, despite a change in placement.  After Frisch, the appeals court held in Jalovec v. Jalovec, 2007 WI App 206, 305 Wis. 2d 467, 739 N.W.2d 834, that a four-year floor violated public policy.

These apparent inconsistencies prompted the appeals court to certify the May case to the Supreme Court.  The Court’s decision could offer important guidance to parties contemplating “minimum support” agreements in the future.

Child Support Attorney in Wausau WI

Get more information about a child support attorney in Wausau WI. Learn more about the legal separation or divorce process, property division, child custody & placement, child support, maintenance or paternity from a child support attorney in Wausau WI.  If you have questions about your family law matter, call a child support attorney in Wausau WI for a free telephone consultation. Call 715.843.6700 to speak with a  child support attorney in Wausau WI.  Child support attorney in Wausau serving clients throughout north central Wisconsin.  General information about child support in Wisconsin.

 

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