If you are facing a divorce in the state of Wisconsin, and you have children, one of the most important things you should know about is the law regarding child custody and visitation. Especially if your divorce looks to be a contentious one, prepare to exercise your rights to protect your children when it comes to how the court orders custody and visitation.
There are many questions that divorcing parents have about child custody and visitation in Wisconsin, from the definitions of legal terms to how the court system determines which parent gets custody of the children. Here are three of the most common questions to give you some more basic information on this topic.
Does Wisconsin law require each parent have equal visitation?
The short answer to this question is no, Wisconsin law does not require that each parent have equal visitation time. However, the court does take many different factors into consideration when determining visitation time, in order to protect the children's best interests. The law requires that children have a regularly occurring schedule and maximized time with each parent; however, this does not necessarily mean equal time.
Does the mother automatically get custody of the children?
Wisconsin law views joint custody as the best solution for children, when both parents are fit and able to parent responsibly. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement regarding custody, the court will issue an order. In the divorce process, the court issues a temporary order. If paternity is an issue, the court will assign custody to the mother until it has proof of paternity from the father, unless the court rules otherwise.
Can children decide which parent they want to live with?
Depending on their age, children may be able to express a preference to the court regarding which parent they wish to live with. They would not do so directly in the courtroom but rather through an appropriate channel such as a guardian ad litem or a court-appointed expert. However, the court makes the ultimate determination if the couple cannot reach an agreement. Minors under the age of 18 cannot make this decision.