New legislation should help reduce the custody warfare that is harmful to children by giving parents a clear picture of the law's mandates and expectations - that both loving, involved parents will be treated equally and will be able to play significant roles in their children's lives. ...
ACTIONS AFFECTING THE FAMILY 767.001
767.001 Definitions. In this chapter:
(1s) “Joint legal custody” means the condition under which
both parties share legal custody and neither party's legal custody
rights are superior, except with respect to specified decisions as set
forth by the court or the parties in the final judgment or order.
(2) “Legal custody” means:
(a) With respect to any person granted legal custody of a child,
other than a county agency or a licensed child welfare agency
under par. (b), the right and responsibility to make major decisions
concerning the child, except with respect to specified decisions as
set forth by the court or the parties in the final judgment or order.
(2m) “Major decisions” includes, but is not limited to, decisions
regarding consent to marry, consent to enter military service,
consent to obtain a motor vehicle operator's license, authorization
for nonemergency health care and choice of school and religion.
(5) “Physical placement” means the condition under which a
party has the right to have a child physically placed with that party
and has the right and responsibility to make, during that placement,
routine daily decisions regarding the child's care, consistent
with major decisions made by a person having legal custody.
(6) “Sole legal custody” means the condition under which one
party has legal custody.
History: 1987 a. 355; 1995 a. 100, 279, 404; 1997 a. 3, 27, 35.
NOTE: 1987 Wis. Act 355, which created this section, contains explanatory
767.24 Custody and physical placement. (1) GENERAL
PROVISIONS. In rendering a judgment of annulment, divorce, legal
separation or paternity, or in rendering a judgment in an action
under s. 767.02 (1) (e) or 767.62 (3), the court shall make such provisions
as it deems just and reasonable concerning the legal custody
and physical placement of any minor child of the parties, as
provided in this section.
(1m) PARENTING PLAN. In an action for annulment, divorce or
legal separation, an action to determine paternity or an action
under s. 767.02 (1) (e) or 767.62 (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.
(2) CUSTODY TO PARTY; JOINT OR SOLE. (a) Subject to pars.
(am), (b) and (c), based on the best interest of the child and after
considering the factors under sub. (5), the court may give joint
legal custody or sole legal custody of a minor child.
(am) The court shall presume that joint legal custody is in the
best interest of the child.
(b) The court may give sole legal custody only if it finds that
doing so is in the child's best interest and that either of the following
(4) ALLOCATION OF PHYSICAL PLACEMENT. (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
(5) FACTORS IN CUSTODY AND PHYSICAL PLACEMENT DETERMINATIONS.
In determining legal custody and periods of physical
placement, the court shall consider all facts relevant to the best
interest of the child. The court may not prefer one parent or potential
custodian over the other on the basis of the sex or race of the
parent or potential custodian. The court shall consider the following
factors in making its determination:
(5) Factors in custody and physical placement determinations. In determining legal custody and periods of physical placement, the court shall consider all facts relevant to the best interest of the child. The court may not prefer one parent or potential custodian over the other on the basis of the sex or race of the parent or potential custodian. The court shall consider the following factors in making its determination:
(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.
(b) The wishes of the child, which may be communicated by the child or through the child's guardian ad litem or other appropriate professional.
(c) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest.
(cm) The amount and quality of time that each parent has spent with the child in the past, any necessary changes to the parents' custodial roles and any reasonable life-style changes that a parent proposes to make to be able to spend time with the child in the future.
(d) The child's adjustment to the home, school, religion and community.
(dm) The age of the child and the child's developmental and educational needs at different ages.
(e) The mental and physical health of the parties, the minor children and other persons living in a proposed custodial household.
(em) The need for regularly occurring and meaningful periods of physical placement to provide predictability and stability for the child.
(f) The availability of public or private child care services.
(fm) The cooperation and communication between the parties and whether either party unreasonably refuses to cooperate or communicate with the other party.
(g) Whether each party can support the other party's relationship with the child, including encouraging and facilitating frequent and continuing contact with the child, or whether one party is likely to unreasonably interfere with the child's continuing relationship with the other party.
(h) Whether there is evidence that a party engaged in abuse, as defined in s. 813.122 (1) (a), of the child, as defined in s. 48.02 (2).
(i) Whether there is evidence of interspousal battery as described under s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m) or domestic abuse as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (am).
(j) Whether either party has or had a significant problem with alcohol or drug abuse.
(jm) The reports of appropriate professionals if admitted into evidence.
(k) Such other factors as the court may in each individual case determine to be relevant.
(6) Final order.
(a) If legal custody or physical placement is contested, the court shall state in writing why its findings relating to legal custody or physical placement are in the best interest of the child.