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Wisconsin Child Custody

The decision to end your marriage is never an easy one, but it can be more complicated when you have young children. In Wisconsin, both parents are allowed to have access to their children in most cases. Parents generally must complete a parenting class that meets the legal requirements. The parenting class provides you with essential skills to help you face some of the challenges that accompany divorce with children.

Types of Custody

There are two main types of custody including physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the location where the child resides while legal custody refers to decision-making on behalf of the child. Legal custody allows a parent to make critical decisions about health care, education, religion, and more. Physical custody is also sometimes called placement. A child may live primarily with one parent while having regular visitation with the other. Barring any other factors, Wisconsin allows for shared custody. The court will determine the placement and legal custody of the child as part of the divorce. The judge makes this decision based on the specific facts of the case and it is based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Factors That Impact Child Custody

There are many factors that could be part of the decisions for custody and placement of a child.  The judge wants to ensure a safe and stable environment is provided for the child. Some of the factors the court may consider include:

  • Age of the child
  • Developmental needs of the child
  • Relationship with each parent
  • Wishes of the parents
  • Physical and emotional health of children and parents
  • Prior physical or domestic abuse
  • Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse by parent
  • Any other factors that are relevant to the case

The court will evaluate all of the factors to make a custody determination. Some factors may weigh more heavily than others. For instance, if one parent has a history of substance abuse, the judge may not want to allow custody by that person to protect the welfare of the child. In some instances, the court may also take the wishes of the child into consideration, particularly in older children.

Parenting Plan

Wisconsin typically requires a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a document that specifies the details of custody and visitation. It is best to create a plan that has as much information as possible. Once approved, the parenting plan will become part of the final order. Iron out issues such as where children will spend weekends, how child transfer will be accomplished, and where children will spend vacations and holidays. The plan may also include instructions for how parents can resolve disagreements in the future. An experienced attorney will help draft a fair parenting plan that protects you and your child.

Divorce can be an emotional and stressful time in your life and in the lives of your children. You can make the process easier with help from a skilled divorce lawyer. Contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. online or by phone at (608) 784-8310 for an initial consultation.


Published June 4, 2021
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