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Is Child Custody Guaranteed in Wisconsin?

 Posted on November 29, 2023 in Family Law

Waukesha County family lawyerRegarding child custody, Wisconsin is a best interest state, meaning that parents are awarded joint or sole custody according to the child's best interests. One parent is not automatically guaranteed child custody over another. However, there are some things a judge will look at that could swing the decision in one parent's favor. For child custody and divorce cases, it is in a parent's best interest to consult an experienced attorney.

What is Child Custody?

Child custody in Wisconsin refers to the guardianship of a child or children by one or both parents. The guardianship covers legal decision-making over a child or children and placement, where a child or children will live full-time. The parent with whom a child lives primarily is considered the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent may receive child visitation rights to access their child or children to continue fostering a parent-child relationship. Paternity must have been established for the father to obtain child custody rights.

Legal Custody Presumptions

There are two legal child custody presumptions present in Wisconsin:

  • Evidence of interspousal battery or domestic abuse
  • No evidence of interspousal battery or domestic abuse

In cases where no battery or evidence is found, it is presumed that a child's best interest is that of joint custody. The court can decide to give sole custody to a single parent if:

  • One parent requests sole custody, and the judge finds them more capable (willing to cooperate with the other parent where the other parent is uncooperative, one parent is more capable of performing parental duties, there are present obstacles to joint custody)
  • Both parties agree to one parent receiving sole custody

Suppose evidence has been found that interspousal battery or domestic violence has or continues to occur. In that case, the abuser will not be awarded any custody rights unless they can prove being awarded custody rights is not detrimental to their child.

Factors That Go Into Child Custody Decisions

The main factor for awarding child custody is the best interest of the child or children. To determine what the best interest is, a judge will look at the following considerations:

  • What the child or children want (the older the child, the more weight their preference will hold)
  • How a child interacts with their parents, siblings, or other relatives
  • How much quality time each parent has spent with the child or children
  • How a child or children might adjust to a new community or school
  • How old the child or children are, and what are their developmental needs
  • Other adverse parties that may come into contact with the child or children through parent association
  • How well the parents can cooperate and communicate on behalf of their child or children
  • Any other factors the court believes are relevant

Contact a Waukesha County, WI Family Law Attorney

Wisconsin courts prefer awarding joint custody to the parents as they feel it is generally in a child's best interest. However, some circumstances could change this outcome and result in one parent receiving sole or even full custody of their children. An experienced New Berlin, WI, child custody lawyer can provide guidance on how to navigate child custody battles. Contact Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP at 262-232-6699 for a free consultation and discussion on how to proceed with ensuring your children are placed in the right hands.

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