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Understanding the basics of child custody in Wisconsin

Getting divorced can be a difficult process for anyone. However, it can be particularly upsetting for parents who will need to address child custody issues.

To make this process a little easier - or at least more predictable - it can be helpful to know what the child custody laws are in Wisconsin and what generally happens during child custody cases.

Child custody in Wisconsin

Like other states, Wisconsin recognizes two types of custody: physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where a child lives; legal custody refers to the rights of a parent to make major decisions for their child.

Parents can have either sole or joint physical and legal custody. However, state laws direct courts to "presume that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the child." This means most parents will at least have joint legal custody, though there are exceptions.

Keep in mind that every custody case is different, and your specific arrangement will depend on numerous factors, including what is in the best interests of your child and the capabilities of each parent.

Issues that can arise

Considering how important and emotional child custody cases are, it is not unusual for disputes to arise. Parents can fight over who should have custody in the first place.

And even if they agree to a plan for custody or visitation, parents can argue over elements of the parenting plan, which is a tool that outlines the rules and expectations of the custody arrangement.

Often, parents will attempt to work these matters out themselves outside of court. Doing so can allow parents to reach agreeable solutions faster. However, if it is not possible to resolve custody issues this way, then the case will go to court.

Key reminders

Child custody cases are complicated and stressful. However, understand that you do not have to go through this situation alone. You can work with an attorney to protect your rights and pursue a fair agreement.

Further, remember that custody cases can be difficult on both parents and children. However, if you stay focused on what's fair and in the best interests of your child, you can pursue an outcome that everyone can be satisfied with in the long run.

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Law Offices of Mark S. Knutson, S.C. | 14170 West Greenfield Avenue | Brookfield, WI 53005 | Phone: 262-649-1241 | Map & Directions