Repaying Birth Costs

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Notice: The administrative code Chapter DCF 150 Child Support Percentage of Income Standard was amended effective July 1, 2018. BCS is in the process of updating information on this site to conform to those changes.

Sometimes the court will order the father to pay all or part of the mother's pregnancy costs and the child's birth costs. When single, separated, and divorced parents apply for the BadgerCare Plus program,
some of these parents are referred to the Wisconsin Child Support program for services.

  • If the parents are not married when the mother applies for BadgerCare Plus and the mother is referred to child support, the court may order the father to repay birth costs.
  • If the family is not referred to the child support program, the father will not have to repay birth costs to the BadgerCare Plus program.

If the family is referred to the Child Support program, an unmarried father might not have to repay birth costs if:

  • The couple already has an older child together, and
  • The couple told the BadgerCare Plus agency that the father was living in the home before their new baby was born. In this case the father's income was included in the family income when applying for benefits.

Guidelines for Setting Birth Cost Repayment Amounts

Under federal rules, child support agencies will ask the court to set the repayment amount to:

  1. Five Percent (5%) of the father's monthly income over a 36 month period (3 years). (For low-income payers the amount may be less than 5% of income.)
  2. Half the regional average amount for birth costs.
  3. An amount between half the actual birth costs and the full regional amount.

Examples of How Birth Cost is Calculated

  • The father's monthly income is $1,500
  • The income for 36 months is $54,000
  • 5% of the father's income over 36 months is $2,700 ($54,000 x 0.05)
  • Half the average regional cost is $2,900

The child support agency would ask the court to set the birth costs at $2,700 (the lowest amount)

  • The father's monthly income is $2,000
  • The income for 36 months is $72,000
  • 5% of the father's income over 36 months is $3,600 ($72,000 x 0.05)
  • Half the actual birth cost is $4,000
  • The average regional cost is $3,500

The child support agency would ask the court to set the birth costs at $3,500 (the lowest amount)

 

Low-income payers

If the court used the low-income payer table under the percentage guidelines to set the amount of child support, the child support agency will ask the court to use a rate lower than 5% of the father's income.

Questions Parents ask about Repaying Birth Costs

Why doesn't the mother have to pay a share of the birth costs?

According to federal law, parents who receive BadgerCare Plus cannot be required to repay the health care costs for themselves or their children who live with them.

If I marry the mother before our baby is born, will I have to repay the birth costs?

The court may order you to repay the birth costs even if you and the mother get married before (or after) your child's birth.

What happens if my insurance or the mother's insurance paid the birth costs?

The birth cost amount will be reduced by the amount paid by insurance. The parent with the insurance must show proof that the insurance paid some or all of the costs. If the insurance did not cover all the birth costs, the court may order you to pay the rest.

Is interest charged on unpaid birth costs?

No.

Will my tax refund be taken to repay birth costs?

Yes, if the court order sets the costs based on your income or ability to repay the birth costs. Tax refunds can be taken to pay support and related costs such as birth costs.

Federal rules will not allow the use of federal tax returns to pay for birth costs if the court sets the birth cost amount higher than 5% of your income or your ability to repay the costs. Wisconsin law does allow the court to use another method to set the birth cost amounts. You will owe whatever amount the court sets.

If my child support payments were set using the shared-placement or serial family formulas, is there another method used to set the birth costs?

No. However, the court may set lower birth cost amounts in cases that the court used the low-income payer table to order child support.