When parents divorce in Wisconsin, the law generally presumes that parents have joint legal custody of the children. It is important to note that legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody allows you to make legal decisions on behalf of your child. These usually include such things as medical care, education, and religion. Physical custody refers to where the child resides on a primary basis. One parent is typically the primary custodial parent while the other parent has visitation with the child.
What is a Parenting Plan?
In Wisconsin, parents are required to file a parenting plan if they have a dispute over child custody or paternity. However, a parenting plan is a useful tool that can be included in any divorce proceeding. The parenting plan is a document that outlines and specifies how child and when child visitation is to occur. It also provides provisions for how parents are to communicate with each other.
A parenting plan is best when it is as detailed as possible. It should be well thought out so that it covers all types of situations and schedules for the future. Parenting plans should be made with input from both parents. If that is not possible, parents may need mediation to assist them in resolving disputes regarding the plan. Once in place, the plan becomes part of the court order. The plan should also include a method for how future disputes are to be resolved.
What to Include in a Parenting Plan
There are many items that should be included in a well-drafted parenting plan. Some of these include:
- The legal physical custody of the child
- List of a person or persons delegated to provide care for the child when the parent cannot, and how childcare will be paid
- Where the child will attend school
- The name and contact information of the child’s doctor
- How hand-off between parents will take place
- The dates and times of regular visitation
- Holiday visitation scheduleVacation visitation schedule
- A method of dispute resolutionAny additional issues
The judge will review the plan and ensure that it is in the best interest of the child. The plan will only be put into effect when the judge approves and includes it in the divorce order. Changes to parenting plans can only be made through the court.
Legal Help with the Parenting Plan
There are parenting plan forms that you can find online. However, it is almost always a good idea to have your attorney assist in drafting your parenting plan. Your attorney is familiar with the many issues that could come up and will ensure that the plan clearly addresses them. The more detailed a plan the better because it will eliminate the potential for future problems.
The plan is also a good for parents who are not getting along since it provides a framework in which they can establish good parenting following a divorce. An experienced divorce attorney will provide you with structure that both parents can follow to establish a new normal for the family. Contact our experienced legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer Ltd. to discuss your legal needs today.