How to Modify Child Custody or Placement Schedules in Wisconsin
Sometimes, the current custody or placement arrangement isn't working as well as it did in the past. Living locations change; children attend new schools. For these reasons, Wisconsin divorce law provides circumstances for when you can modify placement schedules.
If mutual agreement cannot be reached, the following provisions are available to modify legal custody and placement orders:
Within 2 years of the final judgment
A court can only modify custody and placement final orders within 2 years of the final judgment if:
- The requesting party seeks modification with a petition, motion or order to show cause.
- The requesting party provides substantial evidence of the current custody or placement orders are physically or emotionally harmful to the child.
2 years after the final judgment
A court can modify final orders after 2 years of the final judgment if:
- The requesting party files a petition, motion or order to show cause to modify the child custody or placement orders.
- The modification would substantially alter the amount of time one of the parents may spend with their child.
- The modification is in the best interest of the child.
- A substantial change of circumstances occurred since the date of the last legal custody/placement order.
If the court deems the evidence to sufficiently prove the current custody or placement orders are not in the best interest of the child, the court will issue one or both of the following:
- An order of legal custody
- An order of physical placement
The opposing party can rebut the modification motion by providing counterevidence of the current legal custody and/or placement schedule being in the best interest of the child.
Commonly, an inexperienced attorney will forget that a substantial change in circumstances is the initial hurdle that must be proven in order to request a change in placement. The party must indicate what they want changed in detail and then prove why the change would be in the best interest of the children.
Once a motion is filed, the court will have an initial appearance with the parties. At this hearing, the court can provide temporary orders which will be in place while the motion is pending. Commonly, the parties will be ordered to attend mediation. Mediation is a confidential problem-solving process where a neutral third party mediator assists individuals in clearly defining the specific issues at hand and reaching an agreement. Participation is mandatory if it is ordered by the judge. Once an order is signed by the judge or commissioner, it will be mailed out to the parties along with further instructions. If an agreement cannot be reached through mediation, the parties will go back to court for additional hearings.
Guardian ad Litem
If the parties are at odds with respect to the child's best interest, the court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent the best interests of the child. The Guardian ad Litem will investigate and ultimately make a recommendation to the court. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is an advocate for the best interests of a minor child in regard to paternity, legal custody, physical placement, and child support. A Guardian ad Litem is a licensed Wisconsin attorney who undergoes special training by the court. A Guardian ad Litem does not “work for” either party nor the children.
The all-inclusive family law firm in Wisconsin
Our experienced Wisconsin divorce lawyers can assist you at any point in the divorce process. We work with clients at the beginning of the process to the end of the process with appeals and modifications of final orders. You are not alone. We pledge to fight for you and your child's best interests by all means necessary.
Divergent Family Law can help you through the entire Wisconsin divorce process including:
- Filing a petition
- Temporary orders
- Child custody and placement
- Child support
- Child support calculator
- Spousal support
- Courtroom trial