When you’re fighting for child custody as part of a divorce in Wisconsin, whether in Milwaukee, Waukesha or elsewhere, and whether you’re the kids’ mother or father, you may be under a few misconceptions about the way our laws work.
How Do Wisconsin Custody Laws Work?
Many people are under the mistaken assumption that Wisconsin child custody laws favor the mother over the father—but the truth is that our state’s custody laws were designed to work in the children’s best interests.
The term child custody refers to the right to make decisions (like education, non-emergency healthcare, and religion) about your children. The term placement refers to the time that a child is in a parent’s care.
Wisconsin law doesn’t require each parent to have equal time with the children. Instead, the law says that each parent should have as much meaningful time as possible with each parent.
Do Wisconsin Custody Laws Automatically Favor Mothers?
The court is not allowed to prefer one parent over the other on the basis of sex or race. Instead, judges must weigh the benefits to the child in every situation. For example, if a mother is breastfeeding her child, the courts will take that into consideration when they’re determining the appropriate placement; if a father has a stay-at-home job that allows him ample time to care for the children while the mother has a job that takes her out of the country on frequent business trips, the courts will take that into consideration, too.
The court has to look at several factors, including:
- Each party’s wishes
- The interaction each child has with his or her parents, siblings, and others
- How much time each parent has spent with the child in the past
- How adjusted the child is to school, home, and community
- How old the child is, as well as his or her developmental and educational needs
- Each party’s mental and physical health
- The availability of child care services
- Whether each parent will be able to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent
- Whether there is a history of abuse, drug use, or crime
- The reports of professionals, if there are any
- Other factors the court believes are relevant