– from Samuel W. in Richfield, WI

Question Details:

I am a father of three children. Their mother and I divorced about a year ago and she was awarded custody. I have been to her house and it is wasn't clean, there was very little food in the refrigerator, and she wasn't even watching them when I got there! Can I petition for a change of custody?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Yes you can. However, you would need to provide the court with ample proof that their current living conditions are subpar.

In the case of Millikin v. Millikin, 115 Wis. 2d 16, 339 N.W.2d 573 (1983), a father felt that he would be able to provide a cleaner, safer environment for his children than the mother. To enforce an order to show cause, a social worker investigated the living situation of the children and recommended that the children live with the father. However, the court had found that the father had not provided the court with sufficient proof that the change of custody was in the children's best interest, and dismissed his petition. He appealed and the decision was reversed, but the mother took it to the supreme court for review, who reversed the appeals court ruling.

Learn about changing a minor's last name here. 

My advice would be to ensure you have everything filed correctly, and know exactly what you need to do before you begin. An experienced family law attorney will be able to assist you by informing you of the specifics, filing the motion, and representing you before a judge. Legal representation is strongly advised in matters such as these.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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