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.Ask a Question
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.Ask a Question
- WI Statutes: s. 48.925 "Visitation Rights of Certain Persons"
- WI Statutes: s. 48.9795(12) "Visitation by a child's grandparents and stepparents"
- WI Statutes ch. 767.401-767.481 "Child custody, placement, and visitation"
- WI Statutes:
ch. 767 "Actions Affecting the Family"
Sections of ch. 767 affected by 2005 Wis. Act 443 are available at the end of the Act PDF
- WI Statutes: ch. 767.41(4)(e): "Electronic Communication"
Discusses virtual visitation.
- WI Statutes: ch. 822 "Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act"
- U.S. Code: 28 USC 1738A "Full Faith and Credit Given to Child Custody Determinations"
- S.A.M. v. Meister
On grandparent visitation.
- S.A.M. v. Meister
- Forms, Family Law (WI Court System)
- Self-help forms assistant (WI Court System)
- Child Custody / Visitation Forms & Guides from Wisconsin Counties (WI State Law Library)
- Videos: how to fill out forms (Milwaukee Justice Center)
Recommended links from our County Resources database:
- Family Court Forms (Dane Clerk of Court)
Divorce, legal separation, annulment, paternity, post-judgment, "paternity packet". Some forms and instructions also available in Spanish / Espanol.
- Instructions for petition for visitation by a minor's grandparent(s) (Milwaukee Clerk of Court)
For request visitation in a chapter 54 guardianship proceeding.
- New Custody / Placement Case (Paternity Acknowledgement Action) (St. Croix Clerk of Court)
Instructions and forms for filing a new custody or placement case when paternity has been voluntarily acknowledged.
- Petition for visitation by a minor's grandparent(s) and/or stepparent - Chapter 54 (Milwaukee Children's Court)
Petition for visitation under a chapter 54 proceeding.
- Birth Certificate Application (Green County Clerk)
- COVID-19 and Shared Custody Public Health Considerations for Parents (WI Dept. of Children & Families)
- Guidelines for parents in family cases (Assoc. of Family and Conciliation Courts)
- Custody & Placement: Answering Your Legal Questions (State Bar of WI)
- Determining the Best Interests of the Child (Child Welfare Information Gateway)
- Effect of domestic abuse in child custody disputes (WI Legislative Council)
- Appointment of Guardian ad Litem (WI Court System)
- Contempt (WI Court System)
- DeNovo Review (WI Court System)
- Modification (WI Court System)
- Request for Mediation (WI Court System)
- Service (WI Court System)
- Service by Publication (WI Court System)
- Stipulation & Order to Amend Judgment with Arrears (WI Court System)
Moving / Relocating with Minor Children
- Notice of motion and motion to relocate with minor children (WI Court System)
- Objection to relocate with minor children and motion to change placement and/or custody (WI Court System)
- WI Statutes: s.767.215(2)(j) Actions prohibited during the pendency of a court case
- WI Statutes: s.767.481 "Relocating a child's residence"
- Visitation by grandparents and other third parties (WI Legislative Council)
- Grandparent Visitation Opinion: No Requirement of Significant Triggering Event (WI Opinion: 2011 WI App 122)
Recommended links from our County Resources database:
- Affidavit of Efforts to Locate Absent Respondent (Dane Clerk of Court)
- Basic guide to divorce (Waukesha Clerk of Court)
Steps for filing a divorce in Waukesha County, including forms, service, temporary hearings, and the pre-trial conference
- Checklist for Contested Divorce or Legal Separation (Dane Clerk of Court)
- Checklist for Uncontested Divorce or Legal Separation (Dane Clerk of Court)
- Collaborative Divorce (Green County Family Court)
- Divorce / Legal Separation (Milwaukee Justice Center (MJC))
- Divorce Process (Green County Family Court)
- Divorce/Legal Separation (Waukesha Circuit Court)
Guided resource to the divorce process, procedures and forms.
- Family Court Guides (Racine Family Court Commissioner)
- Fond du Lac County Family Court Handbook (Fond du Lac Family Court Commissioner)
- Kewaunee County Family Law Handbook (Kewaunee Family Court)
- Mediation Videos (Dane County Bar Association)
Video guides: Preparation for Mediation; Divorce Mediation; Personal Injury Mediation; Contract Mediation
- Moving On: A Guide to Pro Se Divorce (Dane County Bar Association)
- Moving On: Your Divorce Trial (Dane County Bar Association)
- Serving documents to the other party (Milwaukee Milwaukee Justice Center)
Service of process information for divorce, name change, family court cases, and small claims
Library books & articles
- A practical handbook for the child's attorney : effectively representing children in custody cases
KF 547 .K83 2018
- As judges see it : top mistakes attorneys make in family court
KFW 2494.5.A75 A8 2019
- Child custody and physical placement in Wisconsin
KFW 2418 .L43 2001-2002
- Complex child custody and support issues in divorce
KFW 2504.6 .A75 C45 2015
- Divorce and Other Actions Affecting the Family
KFW 2930 .A65 B725 v.8
- Divorce in Wisconsin : the legal process, your rights, and what to expect
KFW 2500 .V36 2015
- Family Law Seminars
KFW 2504 .A75 F3
- Fathers' rights : a legal guide to protecting the best interests of your children
KF 540.Z9 G76 2004
- Grandparents Rights
- International family law desk book
K 670 .E845 2016
- International family law practice
K 670.A15 I57 2017-2018
- Joint Legislative Council's Report of the Study Committee on Child Placement and Support : 2019 Assembly Bills 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, and 103
KFW 2418 .L43 2019-2020
- Legal custody, physical placement, and child support
KFW 2418 .L43 2011-2012
- Legal rights of children
KF 479 .L43 2015
- Methods of practice
KFW 2930 .W613 v.1A
- Q & A for noncustodial fathers
KFW2504.4.S9 Q8 2000
- Study Committee on Child Placement and Support
KFW 2418 .L43 2017-2018
- Visitation by grandparents and other third parties
KFW 2418 .L43 2015-2016 2015-2016
- Wisconsin judicial benchbooks
Law Review Articles
- Application of child-support guidelines to cases of joint-, split-, or similar shared-custody arrangements
57 American Law Reports 5th 389
- Child's wishes as factor in awarding custody
4 American Law Reports 3d 1396
- Debating the Standard in Child Custody Placement Decisions
Wis. Lawyer 10 (July 1998)
- Fundamentally Fair? A Critical Look at the Due Process Afforded Parents in Child Protection Proceedings Under Minnesota Law
45 Mitchell Hamline L. Rev. 688 (2019)
- Grandparents need not establish a "significant triggering event" to assert visitation rights
State Bar News (August 2011)
- Money Can't Buy You Love: Valuing Contributions by Nonresidential Fathers
81 Brooklyn Law Review 53 (2015)
- Presumption Law in Action: Why States Should Not Be Seduced into Adopting A Joint Custody Presumption
30 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 321 (2016)
- Pros & Cons: A Review of Child Placement and Support Proposals
Wis. Lawyer 34 (July/August 2019)
- Result Inequality in Family Law
49 Akron Law Review 471 (2016)
- Sufficiency of Evidence to Modify Existing Joint Legal Custody of Children Pursuant to Consent Order and/or Divorce Judgment - General Principles, Jurisdictional Issues, and General Issues Related to "Best Interests of Child"
99 American Law Reports 6th 203
- Survey of the Fifty States' Grandparent Visitation Statutes
10 Marquette Elder's Advisor 2 (2009)
- The Empirics of Child Custody
65 Cleveland State Law Review 211 (2017)
- The Shared Custody Child Support Adjustment: Not Worth the Candle
49 Family Law Quarterly 409 (2015)
- The Quasi-Parent Conundrum
90 U. Colo. L. Rev. 941 (2019)
- Wisconsin Supreme Court Clarifies Standard on Grandparent Visitation Rights
Wisbar News (April 2016)