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Is It Possible for an Unmarried Father to Have Shared Custody in Wisconsin?

 Posted on February 23, 2022 in Family Law

Waukesha County child custody lawyerFew changes have the potential to affect a man like becoming a father for the first time. If you have recently discovered that you are or will be a father, congratulations - now is the time to start thinking about establishing a legal relationship with your child so you can ensure you have the best chance of developing a lifetime of love and support. Wisconsin law recognizes the importance of fathers in the development of a minor child’s health and well-being and encourages fathers to be present in their child’s life whenever possible. To learn more about father’s custodial rights in Wisconsin, read on. 

Establish Paternity

The most important thing you can do when initiating a case for child custody or placement is to establish that you are, in fact, the father of the child. You can do this using a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage when a child is born. If your child’s mother does not cooperate, you can also establish paternity through a court order, often using a DNA test. 

Seek Custody in a Wisconsin Court

When the parents of a child are unmarried, the mother has full custody by default until the custody arrangement is changed by a Wisconsin family court. A father can present a parenting plan to a court in cooperation with the mother or, if she will not cooperate, by himself. The mother will then submit her own parenting plan and a judge will make a decision for the couple or may order them to seek mediation. 

A child’s legal relationship with her parents is divided into two categories: “Custody,” or the right to care for and make important decisions for a child, and “placement,” which is the time a child spends with each parent. A parenting plan outlines which parent will make certain important decisions for a child, as well as when each parent will be responsible for having the child in their care. This includes typical weekly schedules, plus summers and holidays. A father does not need to have custody rights to spend time with his child. 

The legal presumption is that parents should share placement 50/50, unless there is a good reason not to. Once the father has established paternity, he is expected to pay child support even if he does not have any placement time with the child. 

Call a Waukesha County Child Custody Lawyer

Dealing with child custody issues is never easy, but it can be especially complicated when parents are unmarried. If you are a father seeking to establish a legal relationship with your child, including shared placement, seeking the experience of a skilled Waukesha County child custody attorney with Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP may help your case. We take parental rights seriously and will advocate passionately on your behalf for your ability to protect your sacred relationship with your child. Call us today for a free consultation at 262-232-6699



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