Child custody disputes are not something any parent wants to go through. Going through the process can be a stressful and emotional experience, especially for the children involved.
Navigating the intricacies of the legal system while trying to protect your parental rights and maintain your child’s best interests can be challenging.
Hiring a skilled custody lawyer can significantly alleviate this burden and help you through the process. In this blog post, we will discuss the concept of child custody in Wisconsin and help you identify when it may be the right time to hire a custody attorney.
Understanding Child Custody in Wisconsin
Before diving into the specifics of when to hire a custody lawyer, it is crucial to understand the fundamentals of child custody in Wisconsin. The state recognizes two main custody types: legal and physical.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
Legal custody refers to a parent’s authority to make critical decisions about the child’s upbringing. These include things like education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. On the other hand, physical custody pertains to the parent with whom the child will reside. The difference really boils down to decision-making authority and the child’s physical residence.
Types of Custody Arrangements
Physical custody arrangements may vary. Some parents may share joint physical custody, while others have sole physical custody.
Joint Custody: Both parents share legal and/or physical custody of their child. This arrangement requires a high level of cooperation and communication between the parents. It is often considered the most beneficial for a child as it allows them to maintain meaningful relationships with both parents. It also ensures each parent has a say in important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.
In a joint custody arrangement, the court will typically establish a parenting plan. It details the type and frequency of visitation arrangements, as well as any other requirements.
Sole Custody: One parent has exclusive legal and/or physical custody of the child. This arrangement may be necessary if one parent poses a risk to the child’s well-being or is unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities. Also, sole custody may be necessary in domestic abuse or parental alienation cases.
Note that sole custody doesn’t mean the non-custodial parent is automatically excluded from the child’s life. Sometimes, they may exercise visitation rights or be required to pay child support.
Factors Considered by the Courts in Custody Decisions
Wisconsin courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody decisions. Some of the factors considered include:
The child’s age, physical, and emotional needs: The court evaluates their developmental stage and specific needs to ensure the custody arrangement supports their well-being.
The child’s preference: If the child is of sufficient age and maturity to express a preference, the court may consider the child’s opinion.
The parent’s ability to provide a stable home environment: The court considers each parent’s capacity to create a safe, nurturing, and consistent living situation for the child.
Available support networks for the child: Another factor taken into account is whether the child will have access to networks of support. For example, that could consist of extended family members or close friends.
The quality of a parent-child relationship: A healthy bond between a parent and their child carries great importance. Courts may factor it into custody decisions.
The parent’s mental and physical health: The court considers each parent’s health. It can directly affect their ability to care for the child and make sound decisions regarding their upbringing.
History of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse: Finally, any history of abuse or addiction will be closely examined. These factors can pose a significant risk to the child’s safety and well-being.
Indications That It’s Time to Hire a Custody Lawyer
Now that we have a better understanding of child custody let’s discuss the circumstances under which it might be the right time to hire a custody attorney. There are several situations where hiring a custody lawyer becomes necessary.
If the case becomes complicated due to factors such as interstate custody disputes, a lawyer’s expertise can help you. Additionally, a custody attorney can provide the necessary legal support to protect your parental rights.
Another indication that you need a custody lawyer is when your co-parent is uncooperative. If they withhold visitation and communication or do not adhere to court orders, hiring a lawyer to advocate on your behalf may be in your best interest. You might also wish to modify an existing custody agreement due to significant changes.
Ultimately, hiring a divorce lawyer is essential to ensure fair representation in court. Having a knowledgeable legal professional on your side can affect the outcome of your custody case.
How to choose the right custody lawyer
Selecting the right custody attorney is crucial to the success of your case. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:
Expertise in family law: Look for a lawyer who specializes in family law. They thoroughly understand the specific laws and regulations governing child custody in Wisconsin.
Experience with child custody cases: A lawyer with a proven track record of handling child custody cases is more likely to achieve a favorable outcome in your case.
Strong communication skills: The lawyer should be able to clearly explain the legal process, your options, and the potential outcomes of your case. They should also be responsive to your questions and concerns.
Compassionate and understanding approach: A custody dispute can be emotionally draining for you and your child. Choose a lawyer who is empathetic to your situation and dedicated to achieving your family’s best possible outcome.
Good reputation and client testimonials: Research the lawyer’s reputation, ask for recommendations, and read client testimonials to understand their professionalism and success in handling similar cases.
Trust Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C.
By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the right custody lawyer to represent you and protect your parental rights. Remember, securing experienced legal representation can significantly impact the outcome of your case, ensuring the best interests of your child are prioritized.
If you find yourself in need of a custody lawyer, consider reaching out to the experienced team at Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C.