When you’re divorcing your spouse, you’ll hear the term “best interest of the child.” That’s the standard that judges in Wisconsin use to determine what type of custody arrangement is right for your family. Naturally, you and your spouse are free to reach your own agreement on placement (where the children will live and what schedule you’ll follow for visitation), but the judge will still have to make sure it meets your children’s best interests.
Best interest factors
Wisconsin’s best interest of the child factors include things like:
- The child’s wishes, if the child is old enough to express a reasonable preference
- The mental and physical health of both parents
- A child’s special needs, as well as how each parent can accommodate those needs
- Religious and cultural considerations
- The need for maintaining a stable home environment (and continuing one, if the child has resided in the same place)
- Other children whose custody is relevant, such as step-brothers and step-sisters, adoptive kids or other family members
- Support and the opportunity for interaction with each parent’s extended family (such as grandparents)
- Relationships the children have with other household members
- The children’s adjustment to school and community
- Each child’s age and gender
- Whether there is domestic violence in the home, or whether a parent uses excessive discipline or emotionally abuses others (including, but not only, the child)
- Evidence of any type of abuse, ranging from drug or alcohol abuse to child or sexual abuse
The judge in your case will look at all these factors in determining whether your agreement is best for your children. If the agreement you and your spouse reach doesn’t fit what your children need, the judge can change it and make a custody order that you don’t agree with – so it’s best to keep all these factors in mind (and to be honest with yourselves) when you work together to reach an agreement.
Do You Need Legal Advice on Wisconsin’s Best Interest of the Child Factors?
If you need legal help during your divorce – not just with custody, but with anything else – we’re here. You can call us at 414-383-6700 to talk about your situation and get case-specific legal advice in a free divorce consultation.