Michael Eisenga, Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc)
News broke last week that a wealthy donor to Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) helped draft legislation that would have capped at $150,000 the annual income upon which child support payments are based.
Kleefisch has since pulled the bill. In a statement (PDF) Tuesday he said the bill had run into "misinformation."
"I believe a fair and equitable child support system, one that fundamentally recognizes the value of both parents in the upbringing of a child, is an important issue and one that warrants serious conversation," said Kleefisch.
Michael Eisenga is the millionaire businessman and former mayor of Columbus who aided Kleefisch in writing the bill. He has also donated $3,500 to the lawmaker's campaigns.
Eisenga requested specific changes that would lower the $15,000 of child support he pays each month for his three children. He had previously tried unsuccessfully in court (PDF) to reduce these payments.
While Eisenga clearly believes he pays too much in child support, he and all other high-income earners in Wisconsin already get some help on their child support payments.
Under current law, child support payments for annual incomes up to $84,000 are calculated at 17%. For those who make more than that, child support is figured at 14% on the portion of their income above $84,000 but below $150,000. Support from any additional income over $150,000 is calculated at 10%.
This gives high-income payers a break, says Elise Ruoho, an attorney and member of the Family Law Section Board of the Wisconsin State Bar.
Ruoho adds that courts already have discretion to make changes to the amount paid based on a variety of factors, including the cost of insurance for the child, educational needs of the child and whether one of the parents has another child or is remarried.
"The statute currently focuses on the best interest of the children," Ruoho says.