Milwaukee Wisconsin Visitation Attorneys
Developing workable child placement plans
Perhaps your marriage is ending in divorce, or you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe early in your pregnancy, you decided to part ways with the baby’s father. There are a number of reasons why parents with children in common do not stay together. If you and the parent of your children are no longer together, you need to work out a child placement plan as soon as possible. At Bandle & Zaeske, LLP, our Wisconsin family law attorneys have assisted parents in all types of relationships. Our attorneys ensure child placement plans are created that work for the parents, and, most importantly, keep the best interests of the children the top priority.
The difference between legal custody and physical placement in Wisconsin
Legal custody and physical placement are two different factors that impact children and their parents.
Wisconsin custody and placement laws were written based on the assumption that children benefit from having strong relationships with both parents. Unless a relationship with a parent may harm the child (for example, if the parent has been physically or emotionally abusive in the past), each parent should financially and emotionally support the children.
Legal custody is the right to make major decisions on behalf of the children. For example, major decisions would include:
There are two options for legal custody: joint and sole.
With sole legal custody, one parent makes the decisions for the children. A parent may have the right to make all decisions for the children, or each parent may have sole custody on certain issues (such as education).
However, in Wisconsin, it is presumed that a joint legal custody arrangement is best. With joint legal custody, each parent has an equal right to make decisions. The parents should discuss the issues and then come to an agreement. Of course, parents do not always agree on how matters should be handled. The parents may need to seek the assistance of a mediator to help them reach a decision. Otherwise, they may have to go to court.
Physical placement refers to the time the children spend with each parent. Placement schedules lay out all of the time a child spends with a parent—including hours during the school week, weekends, holidays, and possibly extended visits during summer vacation. While each parent has physical placement of the children, that parent may make routine daily decisions on their behalf. Routine daily decisions include studying and completing homework, chores, bedtime, and discipline.
How are physical placement decisions made?
Wisconsin encourages parents to create their own physical placement schedules. After all, the parents know their children best and understand their individual needs. Parents may make physical placement schedules as broad or as detailed as they like, taking into account work schedules, school calendars, and holiday traditions.
If the parents cannot agree on a physical placement schedule, they may need to attend mediation. During mediation, a third party neutral, the mediator, will meet with the parents and help them reach a decision on physical placement.
If the parents are still unable to agree on physical placement matters, they may have to go to court for a judge to create a physical placement plan on their behalf. The parents may or may not agree with the judge’s decision.