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When Is Sole Custody an Option in Wisconsin Family Law Cases?

 Posted on September 01, 2023 in Family Law

Untitled---2023-09-01T124330.869.jpgIn Wisconsin, child custody cases can often be complex and emotionally charged. Parents will frequently encounter disputes over sharing custody of their children, including how they will make decisions about important issues. In some cases, a parent may believe that they should have sole custody of their children rather than sharing custody with the other parent. It is important to understand when sole custody may be considered as a viable option by the courts. A parent who is planning to seek sole custody can work with an attorney to determine how to address these issues.

What Is Sole Custody?

In Wisconsin, legal custody refers to the ability of a parent to make major decisions regarding the child, such as where the child will go to school, what doctor they will see, whether they can get a driver’s license, or what religion (if any) they might practice. Wisconsin statutes separately define physical placement, which involves how often a child will reside with one or both parents. Sole legal custody typically refers to a situation in which one parent has the  responsibility for making major decisions.. The parent with sole legal custody will generally have the right to make all major decisions about the child's upbringing without consulting with or obtaining consent from the other parent.

The Best Interests of the Child

Decisions regarding legal custody are always based on what is in the best interests of the child. In Wisconsin, it is typically presumed that joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child, unless an analysis of various factors leads the court to determine that granting sole legal custody serves the best interest of the child..

Here are some of the key factors that Wisconsin courts consider:

  • The wishes of each parent: Courts listen to and evaluate the parents’ desires about whether custody should be shared or whether one parent should have sole custody, as proposed through an agreement between the parties, a proposed parenting plan by either party, or other proposal to the court.

  • The relationship between each parent and their children: The strength and quality of parent/child bonds may be evaluated by the court, as well as the ability of one parent to cooperate and communicate with the other.

  • History of domestic violence or abuse: When a parent has been accused of engaging in abuse against their spouse, their child, or another family member, the court will take this issue into serious consideration. Protecting the safety and welfare of children is the top priority in these situations. This also applies to individuals who may be residing with the parent or whom the parent is dating. 

  • History of alcohol or drug abuse: The court may examine the history of substance abuse of a person whom the parent is residing with or in a relationship with too.

Since Wisconsin courts typically prefer joint legal custody arrangements, a consideration of the factors above would need to show that there is a reason why it would be in the best interests of the children for one parent to have sole legal custody. Sole legal custody may be granted if there is a compelling reason why parents would be unable to work together to make child-related decisions.

Contact Our Milwaukee, WI Child Custody Lawyers

Addressing the various legal issues in a child custody case can be overwhelming. If you need to determine whether sole custody may be an option in your case, or if you need to address any other legal concerns related to your children, contact the experienced Milwaukee child custody attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP. We offer free consultations in family law cases. We will consider the unique factors in your specific situation and provide legal advice on the best ways to proceed with your case. Contact us today at 414-271-1440 to set up an appointment.



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