A recent decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals concluded that a child support payor must file a timely motion to modify his/her child support obligation as each child reaches the age of majority. In Zimmer v. Zimmer, parties divorced in 2016 and father was ordered to pay child support for 3 children who were then minors. Father then waited 2 years beyond his daughter’s 2017 high school graduation to seek a revision for child support under sec. 767.59, Wis. Stats.  The trial court calculated that dad paid over $7700 in “overage” and credited him the portion of payments attributed to that daughter past her reaching the age of majority. 

On May 12, 2021, the appellate court reversed that decision on appeal, ruling that a court cannot retroactively alter a child support obligation. The lesson to be learned is that a child support payor must affirmatively file a motion asking the court to timely adjust child support any time a child reaches the age of majority. This is true whether child support is assessed for a single child or multiple children —once a child reaches the age of majority, a payor parent must seek a court order to adjust the payment amount promptly. If there is one child or a youngest child that “ages out” of child support, a payor parent must file a motion with the family court to affirmatively terminate the child support obligation.

Attorney Jane Carrig