– from Douglas P. in Menomenee Falls, WI

Question Details:

My wife and I have had some tough times over the last few years. Without going into detail, I was convicted of spousal abuse. My wife and I are now getting a divorce and I am contesting custody. I feel that the children are better off with me, and there has never been any abuse toward them in any way. Will my conviction affect the custody decision?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Sections 767.24(2)(b) and (d) of Wisconsin statutes state that the court must take into consideration evidence demonstrating a violent character or has abused their spouse regardless of whether it has negatively affected the child or children in question. This is because an individual that has demonstrated violence against their spouse may carry the same traits to the child. The judge may also listen to what the children have to say and could use it as a factor in this case.

In the case of Bertram v. Kilian 133 Wis. 2d 202, 394 N.W.2d 773 (Ct. App. 1986), the court excluded evidence of the husband's violence towards the mother. In addition to several other variables, custody was awarded to the father. The mother appealed, and the decision was reversed.

I advise you to speak with an attorney to discuss the details of your case before proceeding with your child custody case.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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