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Child Custody and Placement
Why shared parenting?
Shared parenting after divorce: Discusses why this is the best for children and parents.
Why shared parenting site of the Children's Rights Council.
Prior to May 1, 2000, Wisconsin laws required to the court to decide who gets custody and placement of the children by based only on what the court found to be in the best interest of the child.
1999 Wisconsin Act 9 made significant changes to statutes in regard to child custody, placement and enforcement.
In all actions initiated after May 1, 2000 Wisconsin law now requires courts to presume joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child and per Wis Stat. 767.41(4)(a) "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."
Wis Stat. 767.41(1m) also established the requirements for parenting plans .
Parenting plans and the above statutory provision promised to reduce the fighting between parents in resolving child custody and placement conflicts. Parents could submit their parenting plans to the courts, and the courts would merely set placement schedules that would maximized the amount of time the parents with their children. There is no need for further intrusion into this family to resolve the placement issue.
We continually receive feedback from the parents that contact us, that the professionals charged with resolving child placement conflicts are ignoring the new laws. They do not appear to be requiring parenting plans and are continuing to force parents to resolve these issues by the old process.
Parents are being sent to mediation first. If parents do not reach agreement on a placement schedule, a guardian ad litem is appointed who in turn initiates psychological evaluations or a placement study. Parents are then strongly encouraged to sign stipulated agreements based on the arbitrary and often biased recommendation of what a placement study evaluator or guardian ad litem believes is in the best interest of the child.
Many placement evaluators and guardians ad litem seem to have no concern about parenting plans, enforcing the new statutory law for maximizing placement, or supporting the equal fundamental rights of both parents. If parents don't reach a stipulated agreement they are forced to endure a long, expensive and destructive trial before a judge.
Resources for achieving equal placement of your children.
These documents are no longer valid for achieving equal placement in light of the Landwehr Wisconsin Supreme Court case and therefor the link was de-activated at this time.
Considerations for placement schedules
See the Children's Right's Council's recommendations for different age children.
Beware of temporary orders
Many WFCF members have made the mistake of agreeing to less time with their children that they wanted in temporary orders, believing that these are only temporary. They, in fact, are most often what the final order will be. These orders often give the greater placement parent an unfair emotional and financial advantage and provide an incentive to prolong the litigation. So think about holding out for a fair resolution in a temporary order. This may save you a lot of trouble later.
Parental Alienation Syndrome
Unfortunately many people suffer estrangement from their children because the custodial parent wittingly or unwittingly uses the children to act out their own emotional issues.
False Allegations of Abuse. This is a tactic that one party sometimes uses in a divorce proceeding.
For more information about the legal process go to legal resources.
Easy way to modify existing orders.
The easiest and least adversarial way to modify an existing placement order is to work out an agreement with your ex-spouse, download and print form FA-604 ( Petition, Stipulation and Order Amending Judgment Affecting Family) from the Wisconsin Court System web site. Fill out, sign this form (both parties), and submit it to the office of the court commissioner or judge who entered the original order.
This can save both parents and the children a great deal of expense and should allow the parents to instead spend their money and energy to benefit the children.
If you need help, contact the Wisconsin Fathers Helpline