Child Custody and Placement

Why shared parenting?

Shared parenting after divorce: Discusses why this is the best for children and parents.

Why shared parenting  site of the Children's Rights Council.


DIFFERENCE between CUSTODY and PLACEMENT/ day chart options for 50/50 placement: click here.

Placement days per two weeks and percentages:  


Prior to May 1, 2000, Wisconsin laws required to the court to decide who gets custody and placement of the children by based only on what the court found to be in the best interest of the child. 


1999 Wisconsin Act 9  made significant changes to statutes in regard to child custody, placement and enforcement.

In all actions initiated after May 1, 2000 Wisconsin law now requires courts to presume joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child and per Wis Stat. 767.41(4)(a)  "The court shall set a placement schedule that allows the child to have regularly occurring, meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent and that maximizes the amount of time the child may spend with each parent, taking into account geographic separation and accommodations for different households."

Wis Stat. 767.41(1m) also established the requirements for parenting plans

Very good parenting plan info:

Parenting plans and the above statutory provision  promised to reduce the fighting between parents in resolving child custody and placement conflicts. Parents could submit their parenting plans to the courts, and the courts would merely set placement schedules that would maximized the amount of time the parents with their children. There is no need for further intrusion into this family to resolve the placement issue.

We continually receive feedback from the parents that contact us, that the professionals charged with resolving child placement conflicts are ignoring the new laws. They do not appear to be requiring parenting plans and are continuing to force parents to resolve these issues by the old process. 

Parents are being sent to mediation first. If parents do not reach agreement on a  placement schedule, a guardian ad litem is appointed who in turn initiates psychological evaluations or a placement study.  Parents are then strongly encouraged to sign stipulated agreements . 

Many placement evaluators and guardians ad litem seem to have no concern about parenting plans,  enforcing the new statutory law for maximizing placement, or supporting the equal fundamental rights of both parents.   If parents don't reach a stipulated agreement they are forced to endure a long, expensive and destructive trial before a judge. 


FACTORS in CUSTODY and PHYSICAL PLACEMENT (16) decision: click here.


Birth to 3 yrs old shared placement info:    

CODIT recommendations for infant and toddler placement:

Placement decision guidelines from AZ:

STEP up placement or FUTURE CONTINGENCY placement info:


AFCC SHARED PARENTING recommendations:


Fathers who were not married to the child's mother at the time of the child's birth, however, have no rights to the child until they are adjudicated as the child's legal father. To do this, they can sign a voluntary acknowledgment (VPA) of paternity,  along with the child's mother and file it with the state office of Vital Records. Alternatively, fathers may file a petition for paternity and may request a paternity test.


BECAUSE THE FAMILY COURT SYSTEM CAN BE COMPLEX, IT MAY BE WISE TO HIRE A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT YOUR INTERESTS. Once a father is adjudicated as the child's legal father, placement and custody can be filed for.


Adjudication can happen two ways:

1)a voluntary paternity acknowledgment can be signed along with the child's mother and returned to State Vital Records Office. If a voluntary paternity acknowledgment (VPA) is signed by mother and father, you waive your right to genetic testing. Once the VPA is signed and filed with vital records, the father becomes the legal father after 60 days. However, the father does not have custody and placement rights. To get custody and placement rights, the father would have to file an action or case under Wis. Stat. 767.805 (paternity acknowledgment case) with the court or you can apply for child support services to file this action for free.

2)fathers may file a petition for paternity.  If a petition for paternity is filed, genetic testing can be ordered.  After testing or after the mother and father admit the man is the father, the courts will the adjudicate the man as the father, and immediately make orders as to custody, placement, support, birth expenses, and the tax exemption.  Child Support Services will file this petition for free after an application for services is submitted.

(see link for sample pleadings from Dane County to start this case on your own).  DOWNLOAD form and edit with



IF you followed one of the two steps above and have an existing case number, you can change your custody/placement/support orders by filing a motion to modify. Must file a "Petition for Modification of Custody" as well as a PARENTING Plan:  click on parenting plan link above

This is the directions to file for custody/placement

This is the form:


DCF info on paternity and custody/placement rights:

Post Judgement modification forms:

Modification  requirements:


Court cases for attempting equal placement post initial placement order.

Landwehr Wisconsin Supreme Court case: 

Considerations for placement schedules 

See the Children's Right's Council's recommendations for different age children.


Beware of temporary orders !

Many WFCF members have made the mistake of agreeing to less time with their children that they wanted in temporary orders, believing that these are only  temporary. They, in fact,  are most often what the final order will be.  These orders often give the greater placement parent an unfair emotional and financial advantage and provide an incentive to prolong the litigation.  So think about holding out for a fair resolution in a temporary order. This may save you a lot of trouble later.



For more information about the legal process go to legal resources.


Easy way to modify existing orders.

The easiest and least adversarial way to modify an existing placement order is to work out an agreement with your ex-spouse, download and print Petition, Stipulation and Order Amending Judgment Affecting Family)

from the Wisconsin Court System web site.  Fill out, sign  this form (both parties), and submit it to the office of the court commissioner or judge  who entered the original order. 

More good info on support and placement from WI Bar assoc.


This can save both parents and the children a great deal of expense and should allow the parents to instead spend their money and energy to benefit the children.


If you need help, contact the Wisconsin Separated Parents Helpline 

Let your voice be heard:
Are you unhappy about the way you were treated in your case or about current
laws?  Let your legislator know about it.  They are the ones who can change the
laws that the courts enforce.
Contact your legislator.

Get involved and join now!

For $20 you can become a member of WFCF.