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Wisconsin Child Custody Laws

Wisconsin follows the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA), which is intended to minimize interstate child custody conflicts. Thus Wisconsin child custody laws allow parents and guardians the option of joint custody and recognize grandparent visitation rights.

Types of Custody

Wisconsin courts recognize legal custody and physical custody. The term legal custody refers to the right of a parent or guardian to make major life decisions, such as schooling and religious upbringing. The term physical custody refers to the decision of which parent or guardian the child lives with. As in other states, either one (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents may have legal and/or physical custody. So a joint legal custody arrangement allows both parents to make major life decisions on behalf of the child. In a sole physical custody arrangement, the child lives with one parent full-time, even if the non-custodial parent has visitation rights or shares in the legal custody arrangement.

The Best Interests of the Child

Wisconsin child custody laws stipulate that a child's wishes may be taken into account when deciding parental custody. This can be a difficult situation but a judge still has final say on the matter. The presiding judge may overrule the child's decision if he or she determines the child's decision is not in his or her best interests.

Parenting Plans

Parenting plans are an often-used tool to help avoid protracted custody disputes. A parenting plan generally recognizes the following:

  • The continuity of the parent-child relationship typically is in the child's best interest.
  • The needs of children change and grow as they mature.
  • Custodial parents make daily decisions (including emergencies) while child is with that particular parent.
  • Both parents are to have access to a child's official records

Parenting plans also identify now children will spend birthdays and other holidays; transportation arrangements; when supervision is required; and other considerations.

Learn more about Wisconsin child custody laws in the table below, along with links to related articles and resources. See FindLaw's Child Custody section for additional information.

Code Section 767.24
Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted 1975
Joint Custody an Option? Yes, §767.24(2)
Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized? Yes, §767.245
Child's Own Wishes Considered? Yes

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Wisconsin family attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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