WisconsinChild Custody Law
Wisconsin Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.
Child custody cases in Wisconsin can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:
- Where the child lives (physical custody)
- Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
- How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged
This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Wisconsin court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.
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After a breakup or divorce in Wisconsin, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.
Some of the factors considered by Wisconsin in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence. Wisconsin considers joint custody orders to be in the best interests of the child where possible.
What Factors are Considered in Deciding Custody?The wishes of the child's parent or parents, as shown by any stipulation between the parties, any proposed parenting plan or any legal custody or physical placement proposal submitted to the court at trial.
- The wishes of the child, which may be communicated by the child, through the child's guardian, or other appropriate professional.
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest
- The amount and quality of time that each parent has spent with the child in the past, any necessary changes to the parents' custodial roles and any reasonable life-style changes that a parent proposes to make to be able to spend time with the child in the future.
- The child's adjustment to the home, school, religion and community.
- The age of the child and the child's developmental and educational needs at different ages.
- Whether the mental or physical health of a party, minor child, or other person living in a proposed custodial household negatively affects the child's intellectual, physical, or emotional well-being.
- The need for regularly occurring and meaningful periods of physical placement to provide predictability and stability for the child.
- The availability of public or private child care services.
- The cooperation and communication between the parties and whether either party unreasonably refuses to cooperate or communicate with the other party.
- Whether each party can support the other party's relationship with the child, including encouraging and facilitating frequent and continuing contact with the child, or whether one party is likely to unreasonably interfere with the child's continuing relationship with the other party
If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Wisconsin judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".
In the state of Wisconsin, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Wisconsin's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Wisconsin?
Wisconsin has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
Do judges in the state of Wisconsin favor joint custody?
Judges in Wisconsin are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.
Courts in Wisconsin are presumed to generally favor custody orders granting joint custody between both the parents where possible. However, the judge will evaluate each case individually when determing whether joint custody is in the best interests of the child.
Do Wisconsin courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?
Wisconsin courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Wisconsin law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.
Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.
Do Wisconsin courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?
Wisconsin has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.
Do the courts in the state of Wisconsin have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?
Wisconsin has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.