Custody & Divorce in Wisconsin

When parents make the decision to move forward with a divorce, they must also decide custody and placement of their children. In almost every divorce that involves children, the court wants parents to complete a co-parenting plan. Understand what courts consider when awarding custody during a divorce.

What is the Child Custody process in Wisconsin?

Step 1: Developing a Plan

After the initial divorce papers are filed you should begin immediately working on your financial disclosure statement (otherwise known as FDS) and your proposed parenting plan.

The FDS is required to disclose your assets and debts. This information will be used to help set child support payments. The parenting plan is a document outlining the weekly overnight schedule, as well as the resolutions to any future issues like who gets the child during holidays and birthdays. The weekly overnight schedule will also be taken into account when determining child support payments.

Step 2: Parenting Class & Mediation

If you or your spouse are unable to come to an agreement regarding the parenting plan the court will order the parents to pay for parenting classes as well as mediation. The court uses these tools to help parents come to an agreement.

Step 3: Failed Mediation = Court-Ordered Plan

If mediation fails, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (otherwise known as GAL), who is an attorney for the child. The GAL works for the court to put the child in the best possible scenario at the end of the trial, not for the parents or on the behalf of the parents. The GAL will investigate the work schedule of the parents, who has been the primary caregiver to the child thus far in their life, and the willingness of each parent to support the other parent's involvement in the child's life.

After the GAL completes their investigation they will make a recommendation to the court regarding the custody (major decision making) and placement (where the child resides and when). The court, in 90% of cases, will take the recommendation of the GAL, which means your interactions with the GAL are important.

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"I began the process of my divorce with a different law firm that someone had recommended to me. This person just so happened to be personal friends with the attorney and hadn't had business experience with them. I felt that my time and situation was not valued and that she really didn't have time for my case. When I would contact the attorney, I would have a list of questions so that I wouldn't get charged multiple times. I searched around my town for a different attorney to take my case, but many refused because of where I was in the process of the divorce. I came across based on the reviews I read online. The flat-rate pricing really saved me money compared to the expenses with my previous attorney. My attorney Tobias Kinsler instilled confidence and made me feel at ease. I had a positive vibe from the first day that I met him, before I had even decided to hire him as my attorney. Toby was a straight-shooter and didn't just tell me what I wanted to hear. He gave me the facts. I appreciate the hard work and time he dedicated to me undertaking and continuing my case when no one else would. If I ever need an attorney again I will be contacting Toby!"

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