Wisconsin Child Custody Lawyer
Helping Clients Seek Fair Agreements That Support A Child’s Best Interests
No matter what you’ve heard on television or read on the internet, in Wisconsin courts, “custody” refers to the ability to make significant decisions for a minor child. In any action affecting the family, including but not limited to divorce, legal separation, or paternity action, the court will enter an order addressing custody of a minor child. When the court enters an order awarding party custody of a minor child, the court gives that party the right and responsibility to make significant decisions concerning the child.
These major decisions include but are not limited to decisions regarding the consent to marry, consent to enter the military service, support to obtain a driver’s license, authorizations for non-emergency medical decisions, the choice of school, and the choice of religion.
What are the Different Custody Options?
The court may award the parties joint legal or sole custody of the minor child.
- Joint legal custody gives the parties equal decision-making authority regarding the significant decisions for the minor child. Neither party's rights to decide for the minor child are superior to the other party.
- Sole legal custody gives one party the authority to make significant decisions for the minor child.
The court will consider the child's best interest in deciding whether to award joint or sole legal custody. Under Wisconsin Statutes, the court shall presume that joint legal custody is in the child's best interest. Wisconsin statutes also provide exceptions to that presumption if the parties agree to sole legal custody, the court finds that a party is not capable of performing parental duties and responsibilities, there is evidence that either party engaged in abuse of the child, or there is evidence of domestic violence.
How to Modify a Custody Order
If you already have a court order regarding custody that court order may be modified. If the order you are seeking to modify was entered within 2 years of the final judgment the party seeking modification must show that the current custody arrangement is physically or emotionally harmful to the minor child. If the order you are seeking to modify was entered 2 or more years ago you must show that the modification you are seeking is in the best interest of the child and there has been a substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the last order affecting legal custody.