Wisconsin Parenting Plan Template
When going through a negotiation for child placement, it can be very difficult for parents to come to an agreement. The courts operate on the presumption that it is in the best interest of the child to have access to both of their parents equally, which is where a parenting plan comes in. To get an idea of what types of decisions you will need to make, download our form. Reviewing the form is a good way to prepare yourself mentally for the conversations you'll need to have regarding your children.
What Is A Parenting Plan and Do I Need One?
The parenting plan provides an outline for how separate parents will be raising the children. Family courts require this for divorce cases and cases that involve child custody.
What Should I Include in a Wisconsin Parenting Plan?
In order for the parenting plan to be acceptable to the court, it will need to be filled out completely and include the following information:
Children That Are Involved
If the parenting arrangements are different for some of your children, you should write up a separate parenting plan for each child. Within some situations, each parent may want a different parenting arrangement depending on the child. When determining which children are involved, the child’s name, age, and where they live should be documented.
Specific Decision Making Authority
When creating a parenting plan, the parent that makes decisions about certain things should be recorded. This is the backbone of legal custody. Some examples include the diet, religion, medical care, mental health care, choice of school, and school activities of the children.
Both parents, or an individual parent may be involved within the decision making process; it does not have to be one or the other. In addition, the decision making process is also addressed, where both parents should state how they plan to carry out the decisions that are made by both parents.
Physical custody determines where the child or children will live. This is typically done by looking at the days of the week and describing which days and times of day the children will be with each person. The schedule that you create may be weekly, bi-weekly, or something else that is agreed upon.
Within this schedule, drop-off and pick-up times and locations are set up by the parents. Tardiness should also be addressed by writing down how long the other parent should wait if the other parent does not show up on time. Lastly, if extraordinary costs (taxi, train, plane) arise in order to meet the children, the parenting plan addresses who will be responsible for certain expenses.
Temporary Changes in Schedules
From time to time, one parent might want or need to rearrange the parenting time schedule. This may be due to a number of reasons such as work, family or other outside factors. Within the parent planning, you may attempt to agree on these changes, if no agreement can be made, the parent receiving the request will have the final say.
When creating rules for temporary changes, the mode of communication in which the parent asking for the change will ask must be explicitly stated. This may be in person, phone call, text, email, or some other medium of communication. The notice time must also be discussed with the parent. Likewise, the responding parent must also explicitly state the mode of communication that they can use to contact the other parent and the notice period to respond.
Extracurricular Activities and Holiday Placement Schedule
A critical and often emotional part of creating a placement schedule is dividing holidays and special occasions like extracurricular activities through school. Below are several examples of how to create a holiday schedule.
- Holidays Every Other Year. This option assigns certain holidays to each parent during even years and then swaps the holidays and special occasions in odd years.
- Split the Holiday in Half. This plan splits the day of the holiday in half so the children can spend time with both parents during the holiday celebrations.
- Schedule Holiday Twice. This plan requires one parent to set a different day for the assigned holiday. For example, parent A would celebrate Christmas on the 25th and parent B would celebrate Christmas on a different day. Then parent B would have the child on Easter day while parent A celebrates Easter on a different day.
- Assign Fixed Holidays. For example, if parent A is assigned Christmas as a fixed holiday, then parent A will always have the child on Christmas.
When deciding on the expenses of the dependent(s), they may be broken up as a total cost percentage that can be paid by both parents. For example, education, dental, medical care, and health insurance are all things that children may use and by having a percentage breakdown there is more transparency on expected costs that each parent will cover. The following are some examples of expenses that should be addressed within the parenting plan:
- Child Care
- Child Support
Maintaining Contact With Other Parent
Communication is important when trying to co-parent and work as a team. Within the parenting plan, both parties should determine if they want to continue communication. Additionally, regardless if parents choose to stop communication, there must be a way for the other parent to communicate with the children. The parenting plan allows both parents to agree on when and how the child communicates with their other parent.
What Does the Court Consider When Ruling on Wisconsin Parenting Plans?
To maximize time, the court considers where the child goes to school, where the child goes to daycare, where the child lives and how close influential family members (like grandparents) live. Click here to see some custody schedule examples.
Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, children cannot dictate where they reside but the courts may take the child's preference into consideration at about age 14 or when the child can articulate a preference and a reason for the preference. Reasons such as lax discipline at one parent's house, or one parent gives lavish gifts, will not be seen by the court as substantial reasons for awarding placement to one parent over another.
The court will 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.
How Will Agreeing or Disagreeing Affect My Parenting Plan in Wisconsin?
If both parties are not able to reach an agreement on their own, they may try mediation as a way to reach an agreement. However if that does not work, and both parties tried their best efforts, they may submit their own proposed parenting plans separately to the court.
Learn about communication tools for healthy co parenting.
How Do I Make My Wisconsin Parenting Plan?
With all of the details that go into making a parenting plan, there are a few considerations that you should keep in mind throughout the process.
What is a Placement Schedule?
Placement refers to the physical placement of the child. The placement schedule provides a structure for both parents to determine where the physical placement of the child may be. The primary consideration that determines the placement is the best interest of the children.
Examples of Placement Schedules
Deciding on a placement schedule can be very difficult for parents who are a custom to seeing their children everyday.
- Alternating Weeks
- 2 Weeks Each
- Alternating Every 2 Days
- Every Extended Weekend
- Every Weekend
- Every 3rd Week
- Every 3rd Day
- Alternating Weekends
- 1st, 3rd and 5th Weekends
- 2nd, 4th and 5th Weekends
- Every 3rd Weekend
Frequently Asked Questions
Who will get custody of our child?
In Wisconsin, child custody refers to decision making authority for the child. This is determined by the courts based on what is in the best interest of the child. In most situations, custody of the child will either be split 50/50, or be placed solely on one parent. Click here to learn more about your child custody rights.
If both parents share custody does anyone pay child support?
In situations where parents are sharing custody of a child, child support will be determined based on the amount of time that the child is with each parent and each parent's income. For example, if the child is with one parent less than 25% of the time, that parent will need to pay the other a portion of their gross income. Typically, this portion would come to 17%.
Does 50 50 custody pay child support?
Child support is determined based on the placement schedule for the child and the parents income. Custody refers to the decision making authority for the child. In a situation where custody is shared 50/50, child support would still need to be paid.
What can I expect from temporary orders?
Temporary orders allow for a decision to be made on an issue that must be resolved quickly, and given temporary authority until a formal divorce case can be finalized. Temporary orders can be issued for many reasons, whether it is to negotiate child placement, spousal support, or health insurance.
Temporary orders do not always become permanent orders, however there is a good chance of them being part of the final divorce orders. It is important to consult an attorney before agreeing to any temporary orders regarding child issues.
What if we cannot agree on a custody arrangement?
In situations where parents cannot come to an agreement on custody, the courts will most likely order the spouses to attend mediation. Mediation means that the couple will meet privately with a neutral third party, typically an attorney that is not contractually obligated to either spouse, in order to discuss outstanding issues and come to a resolution. If, through discussion with the mediator, the spouses still cannot come to an agreement on the issue, the courts will assign Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to represent the child’s best interest.
The other parent is not following our court ordered custody agreement. Can I stop paying support?
In situations where one parent is not following the court ordered custody or placement agreement, the other parent cannot just simply stop paying their child support. You must file an action for contempt with the court. If the court determines it to be a serious enough and consistent issue, that parent custody and visitation-related consequences. Filing a contempt action is no small thing, and can get very complicated and serious, so it's important that you are confident in this course of action before you move forward with it.
What is an ex parte order?
An ex parte order is an order that is issued while only one spouse is present in court. In cases where a judge has issued an ex parte order, another court date will be scheduled in 14 days, and the respondent, the spouse who was not present in court, must be served at least 5 days before the next court date.
Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?
A parent cannot refuse to allow visitation, even if the other parent owes child support. The only situation which could warrant violating a court order would be if you are protecting the child from harm.
What are the chances of a father getting 50/50 custody?
Child custody refers to the decision making authority for the child. Child custody is either split 50/50, or it is settled solely on one parent. Wisconsin does not favor the mother or father when making decisions on child custody. Custody is determined by whatever is in the best interest of the child, which is typically 50/50 unless there is evidence of physical or drug/alcohol abuse, mental health issues, or jail time.
References: Considerations for parenting plans
Child Custody Articles & Frequent Questions
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