Does Wisconsin Have an Equal Parenting Law?

Does Wisconsin Have an Equal Parenting Law?

When a couple files for divorce and they have children born of the marriage, Wisconsin requires that they submit to the court a parenting plan that addresses legal custody, physical custody and visitation. If you are divorcing, it is in your best interests to understand your rights under Wisconsin family law.

Understanding legal custody

Legal custody gives the parent the legal right to make major decisions concerning their children. These decisions include those pertaining to nonemergency health care, school selection, parental consent to join the military, and religious matters. Legal custody has nothing to do with where the children reside; it is all about who has the right to make decisions.

Legal custody can be individual sole custody or joint legal custody. With sole legal custody, one parent has the right to make these decisions. With joint legal custody, both parents are granted equal rights to make these decisions and they should make these decisions jointly. In Wisconsin, joint legal custody is presumed unless the court grants sole custody based on the individual circumstances or there is an agreement specifying sole custody. The Wisconsin court may also order that one parent has the sole right to make certain major decisions.

What is physical placement?

Physical placement refers to the time the child or children are in each parent’s care. In most cases, the court provides a placement schedule which specifies the times the children are to be with each parent. Court orders regarding placement schedules are varied and different based on the individual circumstances and may specify the same amount of time with each parent or less time with one parent and more time with the other. During physical placement, that parent has the right to make routine daily decisions concerning their child’s care.

Does Wisconsin require that each parent have equal placement?

No. Wisconsin law provides that physical placement should provide for regular, ongoing, meaningful time with each parent. Physical placement should maximize the time spent with each parent, given individual circumstances such as geographical distance and household accommodations. Under Wisconsin law, when determining the placement schedule, consideration is given to:

  • the availability of each parent to care for the children
  • the parents’ preferences
  • how much time each parent spent with the child in the past
  • individual adjustment to any changes in the amount of parenting time
  • the child’s needs and wishes
  • relationships with other family members
  • availability of child care
  • whether parents are cooperative and communicate well

Develop a parenting plan that is in your child’s best interests

When parents are in the throes of divorce, it is easy to get caught up in the battle and lose sight of what is really best for your children. At the family law firm Bandle & Zaeske, LLP, we work with divorcing couples to effectively address matters pertaining to child custody and child support, working to find solutions that work for both the parents and the child. To schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact our office at 414-359-1424 or online.


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