Temporary Custody in Wisconsin

The court creates temporary custody orders when a party asks them to. Temporary orders are established at a temporary order hearing and last until the final judgment. The temporary order is legally binding during the case but does not have to match the final judgment. In emergencies, temporary orders are given at an emergency order hearing.

Temporary Custody | Emergency Custody

Life doesn’t stop just because your case is going through the courts. Your children still need structure, you still need to take care of them, and you still need to maintain all your other responsibilities. For these reasons, the court establishes temporary orders.

Temporary Child Custody

The court grants temporary orders at the beginning of a child custody or divorce case. When a party requests for temporary orders and files the motion, a temporary order hearing is scheduled.

The goal of the orders is to help the child by giving them a consistent custody and placement schedule during a stressful time. In the orders, the court grants custody to one or both parties based on what is in the child’s best interests. Temporary orders are one of the steps in the child custody process

At a Temporary Order Hearing

Both parties come prepared with how they think the order should look. They each have a short time to give arguments proving why their side is correct. Then, after the hearing, the court official makes a decision and issues an order.

It’s important to get a good temporary order because the temporary order can turn into the final order if it works out during the case. This is one reason why it's important to have an attorney from Sterling Lawyers on your side from the beginning.

Temporary Custody Laws

There is a fast turnaround time on temporary orders. Soon after a parent files for them, a hearing is scheduled, and the court makes their decisions. Under Wisconsin law, the court has to at least determine placement orders within 30 days of the request.[1] Speed is important because if they are slow, it could negatively impact the child.

Factors Considered in Temporary Custody

The court looks at the same factors for temporary custody as they do when determining custody for the final judgment. Those factors are outlined in detail on our Wisconsin Child Custody Laws page.

Some key factors include the mental and physical health of all parties, the wishes of each parent, and any previous abuse or neglect.

What Can Be Included in a Temporary Order?

Wisconsin’s statutes outline the key issues a temporary order can cover. These issues include:

  • The legal custody and physical placement of a minor child,
  • Whether a parent can move the child out of the court’s jurisdiction,
  • Whether either party needs to pay child support, and
  • Whether one or both parties need counseling.

In divorce cases, the court can also give orders on property division, debt repayment, and maintenance (alimony).[2]

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (262) 221-8123 now!

Emergency Custody Orders

Emergency orders are a less common type of temporary custody. Emergency orders are only given in emergencies such as if the child is at risk of being abandoned, mistreated, or abused.[3]

In these situations, the child cannot wait for the slow walk of the court. To make it faster and to protect the child, the court can hold emergency custody hearings ex parte.

Ex Parte–Meaning

Ex parte means the court is moving forwards with a case without letting the other party know. In the US, everyone has a right to due process, and part of due process is due notice.

Due notice is a person's right to the opportunity to be in court to argue their side of a case. When the court allows the order to be ex parte, they move forwards without telling the other party.

Ex Parte Petition

The first step to getting emergency custody is filing an ex parte petition. This petition asks the court to give the filing parent temporary custody of their child without having to fight the other parent.

Ex Parte Hearing

After the court approves the petition, they schedule an ex parte hearing. At the hearing, the parent who filed has to use detailed facts to prove why the current situation is unsafe for the child.

Ex Parte Order

If the court rules in favor of the petitioner, they create ex parte orders. These orders outline the extent and timeframe of the emergency orders. A child custody or divorce case then continues after this.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (262) 221-8123 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.


How Does the Child's Preference Affect Temporary Child Custody Decisions?

The court considers the child's preference in any and all decisions regarding custody. But the older they are the more weight their opinion holds. There is no specific age when a child can choose which parent to live with.

Do Temporary Custody Orders Become Permanent?

The final order can be identical, similar, or completely different from the temporary orders. If the child is doing well with the temporary order, it's likely the court will decide to turn it into the final order.

Can You Appeal a Temporary Custody Order?

The court is unlikely to change the temporary order until a final order is made. The goal of a temporary order is to provide the child stability and changing it would go against that. But, if a party is found to be in contempt for not following the order, then the court may change the order.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get temporary custody in Wisconsin?

To get temporary custody during a case, simply file a temporary order request. To make sure the court gives you temporary custody, prove to them that it's in the child’s best interest for you to have custody. Do this by knowing what factors the court looks at, mentioned above.

How long does a temporary order last?

A temporary custody order lasts until the end of the case when the court delivers the final orders. If the temporary custody orders become the final orders, they continue on after the case.

How to file emergency custody in a different state?

In cases of abandonment or abuse, emergency custody can be granted in a state other than your home state. This can only be done if the child is in that state and there is an emergency. The easiest way to file is by contacting a local attorney or the local county's courthouse.

Reference: 1. WI Statute, § 767.225 (1)(a). Actions Affecting the Family. | 2. WI Statute, § 767.225 (1)(a-i). | 3. WI Statute, § 822.24 (1). Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

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