Automatic right to equal placement in Wisconsin?

October 31, 2016 Pre Divorce

I sometimes talk to prospective clients who seem to have the idea that they have an automatic entitlement to equal placement of their children when getting a divorce.

Does the law presume equal placement? Does the custody statute refer to the words shared or equal placement? Does a person have a constitutional right to equal placement? Does a litigant have an automatic right to equal placement?

Wisconsin’s custody law interestingly doesn’t even use the words shared or equal placement anywhere in the language of the statute. Instead, under the current state of law and since May 2000, the court is obligated to afford both parties in a divorce what is referred to as creating a significant, substantial and meaningful periods of placement between both parents; that may or may not equate to shared or equal placement. There is no presumption under the law as to equal placement; that is simply not the law in Wisconsin.

Likewise, there is no constitutional right to equal placement of minor children. In the same context, there is also no statutory right to automatic equal placement of minor children, even though periodically legislation is proposed to change the law to make equal placement the starting point presumptively under the law.

Rather, recognizing that every family is different and what might work for one family may not at all work fit another, the trial court has discretion in coming up with a placement order that allows both parents to spend as much time as is possible with the children after considering the children’s best interests. This might translate into primary placement with one parent and visitation rights to the other, or a 9/5 schedule under a shared placement schedule or consider a week on/week off 50/50 placement arrangement.

If yuh have questions about the custody laws in the state of Wisconsin, contact one of the experienced family lawyers at Karp & Iancu, S.C today.