Child Custody & Physical Placement

Madison Child Custody & Placement Lawyers

In the state of Wisconsin, legal custody and physical placement are two separate concepts that are often confused. Legal custody is the power to make decisions that will affect the child's present and future, such as school choice or health care. It is also the right and responsibility to make other major decisions concerning the child that are consistent with any agreement made by the parties or a court order/judgment during a divorce or legal separation.

The types of major decisions that can be made by a legal custodial parent include, but are not limited to, decisions regarding:

  • Consent to marry
  • Consent to enter military service
  • Consent to obtain a motor vehicle operator’s license
  • Authorization for non-emergency health care
  • Choice of school or religion

How the Court Decides Custody

In a divorce or separation, one of the most contested issues is child custody. Couples who cannot resolve their custody issues on their own may be forced to allow the court to decide, which can be stressful and deny parents any say in their custody decision. Except in a few circumstances, courts presume joint legal custody is in the best interests of the child. However, this presumption can be overcome, and our attorneys can help you build your case.

The court will make its decision based on what they feel is in the best interests of the child. The court weighs many factors to ensure it is making a decision that will benefit the child’s best interests.

Factors that affect a child custody case include:

  • The wishes of the child
  • The wishes of the parents
  • Whether the mental and physical health of each parent negatively affects a child’s well-being
  • Any special needs of the child and each parent’s ability to meet those needs
  • The amount and quality of time each parent has spent with the child in the past
  • Interactions and relationships with other members of each parent’s household
  • Adjustment to school and community
  • Age and the child’s developmental and educational needs
  • Evidence of domestic abuse
  • Parental use of excessive discipline or emotional abuse
  • Evidence of parental drug use, alcohol consumption, child abuse, or sexual abuse
  • The willingness of each parent to facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • The living accommodations of each parent

Building a child custody case isn’t simple, and we are prepared to advocate for your interests. Our attorneys are exceedingly knowledgeable and experienced in all child custody issues. If your situation is particularly complex or unique, you can trust that our team at Balisle Family Law Legal Counsel, S.C. can guide your family through your custody dispute.

What is Physical Placement?

Physical placement refers to the time a child spends with each parent. When a parent has physical placement of the child, that parent has the right and responsibility to make any routine daily decisions regarding the child’s care during that placement time, consistent with major decisions made by the parent or parents having legal custody. In determining periods of physical placement, the court will consider the same factors used in custody decisions to determine the best interests of the child. In setting a placement schedule, the court seeks to provide predictability and stability for the child.

During placement time, the parent with placement is responsible for the child and making the day-to-day decisions regarding the child’s care, including:

  • Bathing, grooming, and dressing the child.
  • Shopping for and preparing meals.
  • Purchasing clothes and doing laundry.
  • Making healthcare arrangements and caring for the child when they are sick.
  • Encouraging participation in extracurricular activities.
  • Teaching reading, writing, and math skills, as well as assisting with homework.
  • Meeting with teachers, attending open houses, and other school activities.
  • Planning and participating in leisure activities with the child.

When seeking periods of physical placement, you should be able to demonstrate your involvement in your child’s life. The judge will make his or her decision based on the best interests of the child, so you should build a case that demonstrates how you currently, and will continue to, meet your child’s needs.