Physical custody of minor children, called “physical placement” or simply “placement” in Wisconsin, can be a contentious issue between parents whose relationship has ended. While every case is different, parents sometimes believe the court should award them sole placement and are frustrated when the court orders them to share placement with their child’s other parent.
It can be helpful to remember that the judge’s primary goal is to determine what type of placement arrangement is in the child’s best interest; not necessarily the parents’ wishes or best interests. In most cases, it is in a minor child’s best interest to have meaningful periods of time with both parents.
Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat §767.41(5)) identifies 16 factors courts consider when making decisions about a child’s physical placement. These factors include the custodial parents’ wishes; the child’s age and developmental needs; the parents’ and child’s physical and mental health concerns or issues; whether there is any history of domestic abuse or child abuse by either parent, someone else in the household, or someone with whom either parent is dating; and others.
In addition to the above factors and those listed in §767.41(5), other considerations that can play significant roles in placement determinations include:
In some cases, after reviewing all relevant facts and evidence, Wisconsin judges will order sole placement with just one parent, and either unsupervised or supervised periods of visitation with the other parent. This type of determination is generally reserved for situations where the court believes the child’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being would be in danger by ordering shared placement.
In most cases, placement takes one of three forms:
Sometimes, courts have to appoint a Guardian ad Litem to advocate for a child’s best interests. Guardians ad Litem in Wisconsin must be licensed attorneys. A Guardian ad Litem will be appointed by the court in cases where the parents are not able to agree on legal custody or physical placement decisions, and/or where the court has concerns about a child’s welfare with either or both parents.
Your divorce attorney cannot guarantee any specific outcome when you are fighting for placement of your children. However, your attorney does play a key role in helping gather evidence and present your case so the judge has all relevant information when it comes time to make these important decisions that will impact your family’s future.
To learn more about how the experienced Family Law attorneys at Schott, Bublitz & Engel work with clients, call us today in Waukesha at 262.827.1700 or contact us online.