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Parenting Plans in Family and Paternity Court
What they are and why you must do them.
A discussion by the Honorable Gary L Carlson, Circuit Judge, Circuit Court of Taylor County.
Parenting plan forms
A parenting plan form was drafted to make it easier for parents and courts to define what each parent believes is in the best interest of the child and to facilitate a more efficient, less intrusive way to resolve child custody and placement conflicts. If you have MS word software, you can fill in this parenting plan form, save it on your computer, print it our for submission to the court.
Several other parenting plan forms are currently available. Form FA-612 was originally proposed by the Wisconsin State Court’s record management committee for mandatory statewide use, but has now been withdrawn. Milwaukee family court commissioner Lucy Cooper drafted an essay type form for this same purpose. These form are available at http://www.WisconsinForms.com ( under -forms bank - Family Law - form A8 and A8LC)
1999 WISCONSIN ACT 9 created the following new requirements, for all contested child custody and physical placement actions filed after May 1, 2000.
767.41 (1m) PARENTING PLAN. In an action for annulment, divorce or legal separation, an action to determine paternity or an action under s. 767.001 (1) (e) or 767.501, 767.805 (3) in which legal custody or physical placement is contested, a party seeking sole or joint legal custody or periods of physical placement shall file a parenting plan with the court before any pretrial conference. Except for cause shown, a party required to file a parenting plan under this subsection who does not timely file a parenting plan waives the right to object to the other party’s parenting plan.
Parenting plans will become an important tool for resolving child placement conflicts because of the following additional modified provisions.
767.41 (4) (a) 1. Except as provided under par. (b), if the court orders sole or joint legal custody under sub.(2), the court shall allocate periods of physical placement between the parties in accordance with this subsection. 2. In determining the allocation of periods of physical placement, the court shall consider each case on the basis of the factors in sub. (5). The court shall set a placement schedule that allows the child to have regularly occurring, meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent and that maximizes the amount of time the child may spend with each parent, taking into account geographic separation and accommodations for different households.
767.41 (5) FACTORS IN CUSTODY AND PHYSICAL PLACEMENT DETERMINATIONS.
(a) The wishes of the child’s parent or parents, as shown by any stipulation between the parties, any proposed parenting plan or any legal custody or physical placement proposal submitted to the court at trial.
The simplest and least adversarial way the courts can satisfy the requirement, "The court shall set a placement schedule that allows the child to have regularly occurring, meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent and that maximizes the amount of time the child may spend with each parent ", is to simply set the placement schedule proposed in the parenting plan of the parent that most correctly achieves this goal. The parenting plan can be used to resolve a child placement conflict without the need for extended litigation by the parents over this issue. This should reduce the emotional and economic damage to the family and should allow the parents to focus their energies on learning how to work together for the benefit of their children.
NOTE: While these requirements will be mandatory in all actions filed after May 1, 2000, there is no reason why parenting plans and this method of resolving placement conflicts can not be applied in cases initiated before this date. 1/17/00
1999 WISCONSIN ACT 9 establishes the following requirements for a parenting plan.
767.41 (1m) ...... A parenting plan shall provide information about the following questions:
(a) What legal custody or physical placement the parent is seeking.
(b) Where the parent lives currently and where the parent intends to live during the next 2 years. *
(c) Where the parent works and the hours of employment. **
(d) Who will provide any necessary child care when the parent cannot and who will pay for the child care.
(e) Where the child will go to school.
(f) What doctor or health care facility will provide medical care for the child.
(g) How the child’s medical expenses will be paid.
(h) What the child’s religious commitment will be, if any.
(i) Who will make decisions about the child’s education, medical care, choice of child care providers and extracurricular activities.
(j) How the holidays will be divided.
(k) What the child’s summer schedule will be.
(l) Whether and how the child will be able to contact the other parent when the child has physical placement with the parent providing the parenting plan.
(m) How the parent proposes to resolve disagreements related to matters over which the court orders joint decision making.
(n) What child support, family support, maintenance or other income transfer there will be.
(o) ( If *** applies) How the child will be transferred between the parties for the exercise of physical placement to ensure the safety of the child and the parties.
* If there is evidence that the other parent engaged in interspousal battery, as described under s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m), or domestic abuse, as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (a), with respect to the parent providing the parenting plan, the parent providing the parenting plan is not required to disclose the specific address but only a general description of where he or she currently lives and intends to live during the next 2 years.
** If there is evidence that the other parent engaged in interspousal battery, as described under s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m), or domestic abuse, as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (a), with respect to the parent providing the parenting plan, the parent providing the parenting plan is not required to disclose the specific address but only a general description of where he or she works.
*** If there is evidence that either party engaged in interspousal battery, as described under s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m), or domestic abuse, as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (a), with respect to the other party.
(You can also prepare a parenting plan by copying the text of the above questions and pasting it into a word processor program. Then add the answer after each question.)
Tips for preparing a good parenting plan (future link)
If you need help, contact the Wisconsin Fathers Helpline