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What are the Different Types of Custody Arrangements?

The decision to divorce is not easy, especially if you have children. In Wisconsin, the divorce rate is about 2.1 divorces per 1,000 people, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Ending your marriage has a major impact on your life as well as the lives of your children. One of the most important considerations when parents divorce is the matter of custody. Parents will need to make decisions regarding where the children will reside after the marriage ends. An experienced child custody attorney will help guide you through the process.

Physical Placement and Legal Custody

Generally, both parents are considered equally important in the life of their child and both are able to care for their child as well as provide for him or her. Legal custody is the ability to make important life decisions on behalf of the child. Some of these decisions are in regards to their education, religion, and medical care, among others. Physical custody is called physical placement, and refers to the location where a child stays on any particular day. Typically, the parent who is currently caring for the child is able to make routine decisions for them.

Three Main Types of Physical Placement

There are three main types of physical placement or custody arrangements. The court will review the details of the situation to determine or approve placement arrangements.

  • Primary placement – This arrangement provides for the child to reside mostly with one parent and have visitation with the other parent. For primary placement, a child must stay overnight at least 75% of the time during the year, which equals 274 overnights.
  • Shared placement – With shared placement, the child spends at least 25% of their nights with the parent. This equals 92 overnight stays each year. This is a common type of arrangement. In this situation, children may spend the week with one parent and stay with the other parent on weekends.
  • Split placement – In families with more than one child, split placement means that children reside primarily with different parents. However, they may spend weekends, holidays, and other time together with the other children.

What Factors to Consider When Determining Custody

The court encourages parents to work together to create a custody arrangement that works best for their children. The law presumes that both parents are equally able to care for their child. The courts will look at a number of factors to ensure that the custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Some factors include the child’s age and needs, the living situation of each parent, each parent’s relationship with the child, each parent’s ability to provide proper care to the child, and other factors that may be important to the particular situation.

In some instances, the court may take the child’s wishes into consideration, particularly when the child is over the age of 14. Typically, both parents will have legal custody, although there may be some cases where that is not the best option. For example, if a parent is not able to be responsible for the child, the court may provide sole legal custody to the other parent. This could occur, for instance, when one parent is unfit due to drug or alcohol abuse.

Keep in mind that the court will always make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. If you are going through divorce, we can help. Our knowledgeable legal team is here to answer your questions and assist you through the divorce process. Contact us at (608) 784-8310 or online to schedule an initial consultation.

Published February 19, 2024
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