Child Support and Parents in the Military

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The Department of Children & Families, the Bureau of Child Support, and the local child support agencies understand that parents who participate in Wisconsin's Child Support program may be called to active duty at home or abroad. The links on this page provide important information for active duty personnel.

Parents Called Into Active Duty

Custody and Visitation

A Wisconsin law, enacted in 2006, prohibits a court from considering a parent's active duty in the armed forces when determining or changing legal custody of a child and when reinstating the child's physical placement upon a parent's discharge from active duty.

If the physical placement order of the service member is changed because the service member has been or will be called to active duty, the court must require that the prior terms of the physical placement order be reinstated upon the service member's discharge from active duty.

Getting Support Payments

If you are called into active duty, you may have your support payments sent to the person who is caring for your children. Direct deposit is the only way for your child support funds to go directly to the person caring for your children. To get your child support funds deposited to this individual:

  • Download a Direct Deposit Application. If you do not have a printer, you can have a Direct Deposit Application form mailed to you by calling the KIDS Info Line at 1-800-991-5530.
  • Fill in YOUR information on the top part of the form.
  • Fill in the bank account information with the caretaker's account information.
  • Sign, date, and mail the application to the address listed in the upper left hand corner.
  • When you return from active duty, you can fill out another Direct Deposit Application form with YOUR account information. This will route the support payments back to your account.

Paying Child Support

If you are called into active duty, please contact the child support agency where your order was established. Provide the agency with information regarding your military orders and your new mailing address.

If child support is normally withheld from your civilian paycheck, it will be necessary for the child support payments to be withheld from your military pay. Your local child support agency will help you transfer the income withholding to the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS). Your child support agency will contact DFAS and submit the necessary information to them. Once the information is submitted to DFAS, your children will continue to receive your support payments.

When you return from active duty, inform your child support agency, and provide them with your updated address and employment information.

Review & Change a Child Support Order

Child support agencies are encouraged to give the highest priority and flexibility under Wisconsin law to parents who are called to active duty and are requesting an order change. Either parent may request help from the child support agency in reviewing the support order and asking the court to change the payment amount. A written request must be sent to the child support agency where the support order was established.

You will need to give the child support agency all requested information so that your case can be reviewed accurately and quickly. To aid the review of your child support order, please provide the child support agency with:

  1. Copies of your last four Leave and Earning Statements (LES)
  2. A copy of your orders to appear for active duty, if available

If the review shows that the change in the support amount would be at least 15% of the current order, and the difference would be $50 more or less a month, the child support agency will help with your order modification request to the court. This change could increase or decrease the amount of support.

Click here to learn more about reviewing and modifying a child support order.

Child Support Hearings & Appointments

If you will be deployed before a scheduled child support hearing or appointment, please contact your local child support agency as soon as possible. Let them know you are being deployed. If you have an appointment with your agency, the agency will try to hold the appointment before your departure date.

The child support agency may be able to reschedule the hearing. If you are not able to attend the hearing because of your service responsibility, you should inform the court of your status. It may be possible to appear by phone, but you will need to discuss this option with the court.

Click here for court contacts and resources

Health Insurance and Military Coverage

TRICARE is the health care program serving active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees, their families, survivors, and certain former spouses. If you are eligible for TRICARE coverage, you may enroll the children in your care. Children in your care include your children, step-children, and any other child for whom you are the legal guardian.

If the court orders you to provide medical support for your children, you should enroll your children in TRICARE.Click here for TRICARE Contact Information

Active and Retired Service Members of Uniformed Services

Active and retired service members of the uniformed services are eligible for TRICARE. The uniformed services include the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Members of the National Guard and Reserves

Family members are eligible for TRICARE health insurance after the service member has been activated for 30 days.

If you are ordered to provide health care coverage for your children and your current insurance policy will be ending during your deployment period, you can enroll your children in TRICARE. Please contact your nearest TRICARE center for information and the necessary forms in order to obtain medical coverage for your children.

If your civilian employer maintains your health insurance coverage during your deployment, the Department of Defense advises that you keep this coverage effective. Once you return to civilian employment, your dependents are no longer eligible for benefits through the military.

Retired Members of the National Guard and Reserves

When you retire and reach the age of 60, you and your family are eligible for TRICARE.