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Child Custody / Visitation

Child custody and visitation questions can be complicated and can arise before, during, or after legal separation or divorce, or with unmarried parents. The following resources link to helpful guides and forms for custody and visitation in Wisconsin.

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Popular questions

How old does a child have to be before they can decide which parent to live with?

According to the Fond du Lac County Family Court Services FAQ:

"A minor child does not have the legal right to decide which parent he or she will live with. The wishes of the child are just one factor of many to be considered by the Court in deciding placement and are not determinative."

Wisconsin Statute section 767.41(5), lists factors the court considers when determining child custody, which includes the child's wishes.

Does a mother have sole custody if the parents are unmarried?

The WI Bureau of Child Support has a publication, Your Guide to Legal Fatherhood, which says:

"Under Wisconsin law, when a child's parents are not married, the mother has sole custody (to make legal decisions for the child) until the court orders otherwise."

Wisconsin Statute 767.82(2m) concerns custody pending a court order. The statute section states the following: "Custody pending court order. If there is no presumption of paternity under s. 891.41(1) or if paternity is acknowledged under s. 767.805(1), the mother shall have sole legal custody of the child until the court orders otherwise."

I'd like to move the child support, custody/placement court order from one county in Wisconsin to a different county. How do I do this?

A "discretionary change of venue" (Wisconsin Statute 801.52) changes "the venue to any county in the interest of justice or for the convenience of the parties or witnesses..." To seek this, you would first need to file a motion for change of venue in your current county. There might be filing and/or other fees involved; to find out, contact your current County Clerk of Circuit Court and/or the County Clerk of Circuit Court of the original order.

There is not a standardized circuit court form for the notice and motion to change venue. You could draft your own form, or you could hire an attorney to draft one for you. The library may have sample forms in our collection.

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Additional statutes, regulations & opinions may apply to your specific situation. Search the Wisconsin statutes & administrative code online.


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