Fathers Rights in Wisconsin

Once paternity has been established, fathers rights in Wisconsin are the same parental rights as mothers. According to Wisconsin Law, the court can then order custody and placement that’s in the best interest of your child. A close relationship with both parents is beneficial for the child.

What Are a Father’s Rights in Wisconsin?

The father’s rights refer to issues related to family law and the affected relationship between the father and child(ren). This is mainly centered around the issues of child custody, child placement and child support. The rights of a father will depend greatly on if they are married to the mother or not.

Divorced Fathers' Rights

Both parents have an equal right to the child without the presence of a court order. A court order is an official rule set in place by a judge that outlines the legal relationship between the parties. Within the court order both child custody and child placement expectations would be explicitly stated for each parent to follow and abide by.

Unmarried Fathers' Rights

If the father is not married, Wisconsin law does not give you parental rights by default. With that being stated, without establishing yourself as the father through a paternity test or agreement, the mother of the child has sole legal custody.

Voluntary Agreement Between the Parents

The quickest and easiest way to establish paternity is when both parents sign the Wisconsin Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. However, there are other options available that can be used to establish paternity in Wisconsin. This form is used when the father signs their name on the birth certificate. After establishing paternity, the father will be entitled to custody and/or placement with the child.

Filing a Paternity Action

A paternity action is a proceeding where a man is legally deemed as the father of the child. To file a paternity action, the first step would be to file a petition to establish paternity. Within the petition, it should address why the party believes that a particular man is the father. After that, the alleged father has a couple options when filing a written response to the allegations:

  • Agree that they are the father and allow the court to create a formal proclamation as such.
  • Formally object the allegations by contesting them.

It is important to note that if you acknowledge that you are the father, and the court accepts the formal written response, you will forever be considered the father. In addition, in a contesting paternity, a DNA test will be required to help establish paternity. If you are found to be the father, the court will order child support according to Wisconsin’s guidelines[1].

Read more: Establishing Paternity in Wisconsin

How is Custody Decided?

The court will decide custody based on “the best interests of the child” and allocate custody to the parent who is best suited to meet the needs of the child. Wisconsin courts base this decision on factors which include, but are not limited to, a history of domestic violence, abuse or neglect, each parent's ability to provide a stable home that cares for the child's physical and mental needs, and the mental and physical health of each parent[2].

Do Fathers Have the Same Parental Rights as Mothers?

There is a common assumption that the mother has greater child custody rights than a father, but in reality there are no custody laws in the United States that explicitly give a mother preferential rights to custody of the child.


How Do Wisconsin Courts Determine Child Custody?

In the state of Wisconsin, the custody and placement of the child is contingent upon the parenting plan. The parenting plan is an outline that takes into account the best interests of the child.

Read more: Who Will Get Custody Of Our Child

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?

Child support and visitation rights are two separate issues. As a result, a parent who does not pay child support cannot be denied visitation. If a parent wants to take action against the other parent for failing to pay child support, they may file a Complaint for Contempt.

Do step parents have any legal rights in Wisconsin?

Within Wisconsin, a stepparent must prove “a parent-like relationship” with a child to secure visitation rights according to Stat. § 767.43(1).

Can I modify child custody orders?

Child custody orders can not be modified until after two years have passed from the time of the final judgement date unless under extraordinary circumstances. This allows both parents and children to adapt to the new living situation.

What warrants emergency custody of a child?

Emergency custody of a child may be granted only if there is an immediate danger to the health or well-being of a child. Some examples may include neglectfulness and abuse, substance abuse by a parent, or a sex offender living with the child.

What is joint custody?

Joint legal custody can be defined as a parenting schedule that focuses on the joint or shared decision making of a child. An example of a joint decision may be the diet or food a child eats throughout the day.

Is child support paid during joint custody?

Child support must still be paid during joint custody. When determining whether child support is needed, the court considers the income and earning potential of both parents in order to ensure that both parents can provide for the child fairly. Luckily there are resources available to help determine child support through a calculator.

What is sole legal custody?

In Wisconsin, sole legal custody signifies that one parent has the legal custody and physical placement of the child. The parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions concerning the child.

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