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When Can a Parent Receive Sole Custody of Their Child in Wisconsin?

 Posted on August 23, 2021 in Family Law

wisconsin child custody lawyerThere are many different legal issues that will need to be addressed during a divorce, and for parents, child custody is likely to be one of the most important of these issues. When a couple’s relationship has broken down, and they no longer wish to remain married, it is understandable if either or both spouses are concerned about their ability to work together to raise their children. While parents will often do their best to set aside their differences and make sure that they will each play an important role in raising their children, there are some cases where a parent may believe that it would be best for one parent to have sole custody of their children. In these situations, parents in Wisconsin will need to understand how the state’s laws address sole and joint child custody.

Sole Custody and Physical Placement Under Wisconsin Law

There are two aspects of child custody addressed in Wisconsin’s divorce laws. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right and responsibility to make decisions about major issues in a child’s life. Physical placement refers to when a child will be in the physical control of a parent, during which the parent will have the right and responsibility to make routine decisions about the child’s care.

In most cases, Wisconsin law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests for parents to share joint legal custody. The only exception to this presumption is in cases involving domestic abuse. This means that most of the time, parents will be able to share in the rights and responsibilities of making decisions about how their child will be raised. However, sole custody may be granted to one parent in certain situations if a judge determines that doing so would be in the child’s best interests. These situations may include:

  • Both parties agree that one parent will have sole legal custody.

  • One parent is not physically or mentally capable of performing parental duties or meeting their responsibilities.

  • A parent does not wish to maintain an active role in raising their child.

  • Conditions interfere with the parents’ ability to share joint legal custody, such as parents living in different states.

  • The parties are not willing to cooperate with each other to raise their child.

  • The court finds that there is a preponderance of the evidence showing that a parent has committed domestic abuse, including a single serious incident of domestic battery or a pattern of battery or other forms of abuse toward their spouse, children, or other members of their household.

A child will usually be entitled to have regular periods of physical placement with each parent, even if one parent will have sole legal custody. However, a parent’s right to physical placement may be denied if the court determines that the child’s physical or mental health would be at risk while they are in the care of that parent. If necessary, the court may order that a parent’s physical placement be supervised by a third party to protect the child’s safety.

Contact Our Waukesha County Child Custody Lawyers

If you believe that you should have sole custody of your child, or if you need to address any other issues related to legal custody and physical placement, contact the Muskego family law attorneys at Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP. Call 262-232-6699 today to arrange a free consultation.


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