50/50 Joint Custody and Placement Schedules in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, joint legal custody or 50/50 custody gives both parents an equal share of the legal responsibilities of caring for their children. Joint physical custody maximizes the time the child has with both parents. Shared custody schedules work well in securing equal amounts of time the child has with each parent.

Child Placement Schedule

The child placement schedule is an important part of child custody and placement. Making a schedule for child placement outlines childcare responsibilities and helps children maintain consistency if the parents are unmarried or helps them adjust to a new schedule after a divorce. There are many options for creating a schedule, but it depends on what kind of custody agreement you and your spouse have come to. Every family is different, but the important thing to remember is that a schedule is meant to ensure that the child spends equal time with both parents, as long as it is in the best interest of the child.[1]

Note: The terms “custody” and “placement” are often confused. Custody refers to the legal decision-making rights on behalf of the child and allows access to legal and medical information for the child. Placement refers to the physical placement of the child, meaning where the child is at any given time. Placement is also called visitation in some instances.

Joint Legal Custody

Joint legal custody is a form of shared parenting with an emphasis on shared decision-making over the child. Joint custody is the counterpart to sole custody where one parent has full control over the child. 

In addition to decision-making, joint custody grants each parent the right to access legal and medical records whenever necessary. The rights parents have with joint custody fall under major decisions which are not clearly defined in the state statutes. However, in practice, major decisions can be thought of as decisions that have a significant and lasting impact on the child's life. Here are some examples of those decisions:

  • Choice of school
  • Choice of religion practiced
  • Consent to get a driver's license
  • Consent to marry underage
  • Consent to enter military service
  • Non-emergency medical decisions[2]

Simple decisions that come up in the child's day-to-day life, like what to pack for lunch or when to go to bed, are made without consulting the other parent. These small, non-major decisions lay in the hands of whichever parent has custody at the time it needs to be made. This includes emergencies, such as a parent needing to take the child to the emergency room.

Joint Placement

Placement (also known as physical custody or visitation) refers to where the child is living at any given time and which parent is responsible for the child at that time.

Joint physical placement is a popular placement option because it gives the child more time with each parent. The goal is to maximize the time that the child has with each parent. Schedules depend on a variety of things detailed in the child custody and placement laws, but some key examples are the parent's work, the relationship they have with their children, and the ages of the children.

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Examples of Joint Placement Schedules

Shared custody is an easy 50/50 for big decisions, but shared placement has multiple ways it could actually look. Most schedules below are based on 50/50 placement schedules, but there is the potential for 60/40, 70/30, 75/25, and 80/20 placement plans. 

2-2-3 Custody Schedule Rotation (2-week Schedule)

The child lives with Parent A for 2 days, then Parent B for 2 days, then Parent A for 3 days. Once the week is over, the rotation flips. This allows the child to have alternating weekends with the parents.

2-2-5-5 Custody Schedule (2-week Schedule)

The child lives with Parent A for 2 days, then Parent B for 2 days, then Parent A for 5 days, then Parent B for 5 days. This allows the child to be with one parent every Sunday and Monday, and the other parent has every Tuesday and Wednesday with Thursday, Friday, and Saturday alternating.

3-3-4-4 Custody Schedule (2-week Schedule)

The child lives with Parent A for 3 days, then Parent B for 3 days, then Parent A for 4 days, then Parent B for 4 days. With this schedule, the child is with the same parent every Sunday to Tuesday, the other parent every Wednesday to Friday, and Saturdays alternate.

4-3 Custody Schedule

The child lives with Parent A for 4 days and lives with Parent B for 3 days (usually Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday).

7-On-7-Off Custody Schedule

Also known as the week-on-week-off schedule, the child lives with Parent A for 7 days, then Parent B for 7 days.

Every Other Weekend Custody Schedule

This schedule alternates who has the child each weekend, so the child lives with Parent A most of the time and lives with Parent B every other weekend.

Midweek Overnight

This is usually an adjustment to the 7-on-7-off schedule, where each parent gets a day with the child in the middle of the week they are with the other parent.

60/40 Custody Schedule

An example is when the child lives with Parent A during the week and lives with Parent B during the weekends. This is similar to the 4-3 schedule, but the 60/40 includes weekends for Parent B.

70/30 Custody Schedule

The most popular version of this schedule is when the child lives with Parent B for a week during every 3rd week. Another version is when the child lives with Parent B every weekend.

75/25 Custody Schedule

The child lives with Parent A for 5 days and lives with Parent B for 2 days per week with only one overnight.

80/20 Custody Schedule

The child lives with Parent A but lives with Parent B 20% of the time. Example schedules include the child visiting Parent B during the 1st, 3rd, & 5th weekend, or visiting during the 2nd, 4th, and 5th weekend.

To find out what works best for you, go through the parenting plan worksheet.

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How Far Can a Parent Move With Joint Custody?

If you have custody and placement of a child and want to move out of Wisconsin or move more than 100 miles from the home you were in when the court order was put in place, you must send notice to the other parent via certified mail. The other parent can then agree or notify you and the court with an objection. If objected to, you can't move with your children until this issue is resolved. After an objection, the court will order mediation. If no agreement is reached during mediation, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to the case and there will be a hearing to determine what's in the children's best interest.

Moving with children could have a major impact on a child's relationship with the other parent, and it's difficult to transition away from family, friends, and school. The court has the power to allow you to move, adjust the placement (visitation) schedule, or even order the children to stay with the other parent if you move.

Wisconsin Child Support Laws for 50/50 Custody

With joint custody, child support can still be ordered. If a parent has less than 25% placement, that parent will likely need to pay the other parent a percentage of his or her gross income. That percentage would be 17% for one child, 25% for two children, and so on. See all standard percentage rates and calculate the shared custody child support with our child support calculator.

Considerations

During the process of creating a placement schedule, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Co-parenting

Creating a parenting plan where both parents play an active role in the child's life will allow the child to build stable relationships and feel secure in the new family arrangement. When co-parenting is done amicably, it can have a lasting, positive impact on the child's mental and emotional health and their ability to form lasting relationships. The co-parenting relationship can be difficult to create and maintain, but there are ways to navigate the new dynamic. Here are a couple of key tips for co-parenting:

1. Be Realistic About Your Own Schedule and Commitments

It is helpful to think of the co-parenting dynamic as a business transaction. Treating your ex-partner as a colleague by being transparent and taking a business-like tone will help keep the focus on the well-being of the child.

2. Find an Agreeable Way to Communicate

Though it can be strenuous, having consistent communication between co-parents is important. Using shared calendars, a messaging forum, or regular in-person or phone conversations can go a long way in ensuring that disagreements are resolved quickly and calmly.

3. Review the Arrangement and Adjust as Needed

As the child grows, so too should your placement plan. Creating a rigid parenting plan can make it hard for co-parents to reassess the agreements that continue to contribute to the child's well-being. As children and circumstances change, co-parents should revisit the plan in place, so that it is mutually beneficial for the child and the parents.

Alternating Weeks Plans and Their Effect on the Child

A weekly alternating schedule puts the child in a position where they do not see the other parent for a week at a time. Plans like this can cause anxiety and a sense of detachment for the child, and it can strain the co-parenting relationship. This placement plan could also put a strain on the work schedules of each parent. While it is a great option for an older child, it typically is not optimal for children under 12.

Long-Distance and Out-of-State

There are many options for long-distance and out-of-state visitation. If the parents can afford plane tickets or can arrange the driving, a visit can be arranged at regular intervals. That could be a visit every other weekend or 2-3 weekends a month. If these options are not possible, the nonresidential parent can come and visit the child.

Making a Summer Break Schedule

When making a summer break placement schedule, you and your spouse need to determine when the summer break schedule will start and stop. These are dates you could apply to every year, or they can be variable. Examples of summer break schedules would be for the child to live with the father and visit the mother every weekend or vice versa, one parent could have placement for the entire summer, or a schedule can be created using one parent's vacation time.

What Factors Are Considered in Placement?

There are many custody/placement laws and factors a judge will look at when they have to rule on a case, but their ultimate goal is to make a judgment that is in the best interest of the child. The parents need to be amicable with one another and they should have a realistic parenting plan to present to the court that gives the child regularly occurring and meaningful periods of time with each parent. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dads usually get 50/50 custody?

The standard is for each party to get 50/50 custody because Wisconsin assumes that joint custody is the best situation for the child. Custody refers to the legal decision-making rights that each parent has for the child, then placement is where the child physically is day-to-day. It is very difficult to obtain sole custody, and the parent arguing for sole custody must be able to demonstrate that the other party is an unfit parent

In regards to dads specifically, Wisconsin statutes prohibit judges and court commissioners from considering gender when making custodial decisions. The courts operate under the assumption that it is in the best interest of the child to optimize the time with each parent.

How is custody determined in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin custody and placement laws vary from the wishes of each parent to the mental/physical health of parties involved to evidence of child abuse or neglect. These factors come into play when the court has to decide the custody and placement which only happens if the parents cannot first agree between themselves.

Do you pay child support if custody is 50/50?

Child support can occur with 50/50 custody because you calculate child support based on placement, not custody. Placement refers to the placement schedule of where the child is each day, but custody is the decision-making rights a parent has over the child. When placement is 50/50, the courts will award child support based on each party's income. You can calculate child support based on the number of overnights and each parent's income.

Is Wisconsin a mom state?

Wisconsin is not a mother state. The state statutes declare that a person's sex cannot be used when determining custody and placement of children. Rather, the best interest of the child must be the heart of any decision.

What is a good 50/50 custody schedule?

A good custody schedule is going to depend on what works for the child as well as the schedules of each parent. Coparenting with a 50/50 schedule requires communication with the other parent and a commitment to putting the child first. These schedules focus on ensuring that the child receives equal time with each parent. 50/50 Custody schedules work well for parents who live relatively close, which makes exchanges of the child easier. Some examples of common 50/50 schedules are the 2-2-3, 2-2-5-5, and 3-3-4-4 which are defined in greater detail above.

Who is the custodial parent in 50/50 custody?

Who the custodial parent is must be outlined in a custody agreement. In a truly 50/50 custody and placement scenario, there is no custodial parent because each parent has equal rights. However, there are instances of split custody where one parent has final decision-making authority if the parties cannot come to an agreement.

How far can I move with joint custody in Wisconsin?

As of April 2018, if you move more than 100 miles from the location you were when the agreement was first made, you must tell the nonmoving parent. The nonmoving parent has 15 days to object to the move, and if they do, the courts will schedule a hearing.

Before April 2018, the rule was if you move more than 150 miles, the moving parent is required to notify the nonmoving parent, so the rule was lessened by 50 miles.

Notice of your intent to move must be done 60 days in advance. If the nonmoving party does object to the move then it can take 6-12 months to litigate the moving issue before getting a final decision.

Can a child decide which parent to live with in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, children cannot dictate where they live, but the courts take the child's preference into consideration. There is no hard rule, but at about age 14 or when the child can articulate a preference and a reason for the preference, their decision is given more weight. Reasons such as lax discipline at one parent's house or because one parent gives lavish gifts will not be seen as substantial reasons for awarding placement to one parent over another.

The court will use the custody and placement laws to evaluate what is in the best interest of the child, which is assumed to be as close to equal time with each parent as possible. If the parents cannot agree on a schedule, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the best interests of the child and give the court a recommendation for custody and placement.

What is the best schedule for 50-50 shared-parenting?

The best shared-parenting schedules take into account what is in the best interest of the child, the parent's work schedules, and the age of the child. The schedule needs to be created based on what gives the child the maximum amount of time with each parent, and what is in the best interest of the child. Examples of effectively shared parenting schedules include plans that alternate two-week schedules, alternating weeks with a midweek or overnight sleepover being additional, or alternating every few days. 


References: Video by youtube.com/c/sterlinglawyers1. WI Statute, 767.43 § (1). Child Custody, Placement, and Visitation. | 2. WI Statute, 767.001 § (2m). Definitions, Scope, Jurisdiction, and Recognition of Judgements.


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