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More divorced Wisconsinites are using unemployment benefits to pay their child support

Divorced Wisconsinites are not exempt from the recession and more of them are using unemployment benefits to pay their child support.

State officials said almost $18 million in child support came through jobless pay in the first three months of this year. That's more than twice the amount from a year ago.

And it's almost as much as the $22 million collected for all of 2008.

The total amount of child support collected statewide was $951 million last year. That's $22 million more than the previous year, which indicates that divorced kids generally didn't suffer from the ravages of the economy.

But that might be changing. Court officials say more people who've lost their jobs have asked for a break on their child support.

And more custodial parents who are unemployed want more from their ex-spouses.

Jackie Scharping of the Brown County child support agency says there's a slight increase in hardship cases but not as many as she expected.

The county's unemployment rate was almost 8 percent in February. But still, the region had not seen large numbers of mass layoffs.