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Wisconsin’s 2004 Shared-Physical-Placement Guidelines: Their Use and Implications in Divorce Cases

Using the Wisconsin Court Record Data (CRD), this report studies differences in child support orders and time-share placement before and after significant changes were made to the Wisconsin child support guidelines in January 2004. The new guidelines generally include lower child support orders at lower levels of time-share, and higher child support orders at or near the level of equal shared placement. The authors analyze whether there is evidence that the changes influence parents’ behavior and divorce-case final judgments.

They find continued growth in shared placement in divorce cases, and declines in both sole-mother and sole-father placement, consistent with long-term trends in Wisconsin. They find a greater increase in unequal shared-placement cases, compared to equal shared-placement cases. They also find a long-term trend of declining litigation in divorces cases, in all categories except those with unequal shared placement. These findings suggest some parents could be influenced by the inadvertent financial incentives introduced by the 2004 guidelines.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Custody & Placement, Guidelines, Orders & Payments, WI Administrative Data Core


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