Wisconsin Works (W-2)

Child Support

Child support payments by parents who do not reside with their children are critical to the financial well-being of the children. The Wisconsin Works (W-2) program helps improve Wisconsin’s successful record of child support collection strategies by providing financial and employment planning assistance to unemployed non-custodial parents.

In addition, W-2 families receive a portion or all of the child support payments depending on each case situation, providing further incentive to actively participate in collection and enforcement efforts.

Paternity Establishment (Legal Fatherhood)

If parents are not married, legal fatherhood (paternity) must be determined before a court can order child support. Parents can establish paternity by filing a "Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement" from with the state. The parents can also make a legal agreement (stipulation) signed by a court, or a court can issue a legal decision on paternity. Genetic testing can be done if there are doubts about paternity. For more information on What Mothers Should Know about paternity click here. Or for more information on What Fathers Should Know about paternity click here.

Child Support Payments

Under W-2, custodial parents have the responsibility for providing for their families through work. Child Support payments are used to offset the costs of W-2, other assistance programs, and the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. In most cases, 75% of collected current and past due Child Support is passed through to the W-2 participant.

Custodial parents who do not cooperate with the Child Support Agency, unless they have an approved good cause reason or an exemption, cannot receive benefits under W-2.  To learn more about good cause reasons, click here.

Children First Program

Children First is a child support program which promotes the emotional and financial responsibility that a non-custodial parent has towards his or her children. Under the program, non-custodial parents with past-due child support are required to pay child support, participate in unpaid job training or face court action. Parents who pay child support may be provided job search assistance, job skills training, basic education, or work experience opportunities.

Non-Custodial Parents

Under W-2, non-custodial parents are eligible for certain services, such as job search assistance and case management. In order for non-custodial parents to be eligible for these services, the custodial parent must be in a W-2 employment position and there must be under a current child support order for the non-custodial parent or process of establishing the order. A non-custodial parent is not eligible to participate in a W-2 employment position or to receive a Job Access Loan (JAL).

Child Support Cooperation

All W-2 applicants, participants and any other adults in the W-2 group who are parents of a dependent child are required to, cooperate with the Child Support Agency for the following programs: W-2, Child Care, BadgerCare Plus, and Medicaid, unless a good cause reason or exemption exists.

For more information about child support cooperation contact your local Child Support Agency or visit the Bureau of Child Support web site.

 Updated June 22, 2012

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.