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When Can a Parent Get Sole Custody in Wisconsin?

 Posted on July 11, 2023 in Family Law

Pewaukee Parenting Plan LawyerMany parents who are in the midst of a divorce or child custody battle want sole custody. It is normal for a parent to want to have their child with them all the time. However, sole custody is an arrangement of last resort in Wisconsin. In most situations, courts want children to benefit from having a relationship with both parents. This is often true even if one parent has a criminal record, or has struggled with mental illness or substance abuse. Courts are generally reluctant to cut a parent off from their child completely. However, there are situations where a court will agree that sole custody is appropriate. If your child’s other parent has been abusive to your child to the point where your child gains no benefit from being around that parent, a Wisconsin court may find sole custody to be in the child’s best interest. If you believe that excluding the other parent from the child’s life is the best option, it is important to work closely with an experienced child custody lawyer. 

Sole Custody May be Best for Children in Certain Situations

Wisconsin courts will put the best interests of the child first. Situations in which sole custody may be granted include: 

  • Abuse - If your child has been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused by the other parent, the court may find that it would be best for the child to stop seeing that parent. Although it is very helpful if the parent has been criminally charged or convicted for the abuse, it is not required. The family law court will evaluate evidence of the abuse. 

  • Significant mental illness or addiction - Many, many excellent parents are living with mental illness or are in substance abuse recovery. The fact that a parent has a mental illness or is in recovery is generally not enough for the other parent to gain full custody. However, if one parent’s uncontrolled mental illness or active addiction poses a safety risk to the child, the other parent may be able to obtain sole custody. 

  • Neglect - If your child has been neglected while staying with the other parent, the court may determine that that parent is not fit to care for children and award sole custody. 

  • Offenses against children - If the other parent has been convicted of a crime against children, such as possession of child pornography or assault on a child, the court may not want the child exposed to that parent. 

Note that even in some of these situations, the court may order supervised visitation with the less suitable parent rather than outright granting sole custody to the fit parent. 

Contact a Waukesha Child Custody Attorney

Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP is committed to protecting children who are involved in a custody dispute. Our caring and driven Waukesha child custody lawyers will do all we can to help you keep your child safe. We offer complimentary initial consultations. To receive yours, please contact us at 262-232-6699. We are available to take your call 24/7. 



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