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Wisconsin Child Physical Placement Laws

5 Important Factors about Filing for Child Placement in Wisconsin

  1. In deciding on placement of your minor children, the Court looks at the best interests of your children.
  2. Specific factors the Wisconsin Court considers in determining the best interests of your children include the following:
    1. The wishes of the child’s parents;
    2. The wishes of the child;
    3. The interaction of the child with his/her parents, brothers and sisters and any other person who significantly affects the child’s best interests;
    4. The amount of time each parent has spent with the child in the past;
    5. The child’s adjustment to home, school, religion and community;
    6. The age of the child and the child’s developmental and educational needs;
    7. The physical and mental health of the parties and child;
    8. The need for regularly occurring and meaningful periods of placement;
    9. The availability of child care services;
    10. The cooperation between the parties;
    11. Whether one parent can support the other parent’s relationship with the child; and
    12. Whether either party engaged in domestic abuse.
  3. Generally, the Court orders mediation between the parties before a matter is set for a hearing on placement.
  4. If mediation fails, the Court will generally appoint a Guardian Ad Litem who acts as an advocate for the minor child. The parties usually share the cost of the Guardian Ad Litem, but the Court may deviate from that presumption.
  5. It is the obligation of the Court to set a placement schedule, “that allows the child to have regular occurring meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent and that maximizes the amount of time the child may spend with each parent.” Sec. 767.41, Wis. Stats.


Wisconsin Physical Placement

Physical placement is the condition under which a party has the right to have a child physically placed with that party and has the right and responsibility to make, during that placement, routine daily decisions regarding the child’s care. Physical placement is generally defined as where the child is living on a day-to-day basis.


How can I make sure I will be awarded primary placement of my children?

There are no guarantees that you will be awarded primary placement of your children in a divorce action, except in exceptional circumstances. The court weighs the factors addressed earlier in this chapter to make a determination relative to the allocation of placement. Although an attorney may give you his or her opinion relative to your likelihood of success in obtaining primary placement of your children, it is just an opinion. Any lawyer who guarantees a result in a custody and/ or placement case is a lawyer who should be avoided.


What’s the difference between visitation and placement?

Visitation generally occurs when a third party spends time with a minor child. Third parties include grandparents, significant others, or stepparents. Placement is the term used for parents when spending time with their children.


What factors does the court consider in awarding custody and physical placement?

The court considers all facts relevant to the best interest of the children. Some of the factors the court considers for child custody and placement are:

  • The wishes of the children’s parent or parents as shown by an agreement between the parties, or a proposed parenting plan, or any other proposal submitted to the court at trial
  • The wishes of the children, which may be communicated by the children or through the children’s guardian ad litem
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the children with his or her parent, parents, or siblings
  • The amount and quality of time that each parent has spent with the child in the past
  • The child’s adjustment to the home, school, religion, and community
  • Whether the mental or physical health of a party, minor child, or other person living in a proposed custodial household negatively affects the child’s intellectual, physical, or emotional well-being
  • The need for regularly occurring and meaningful periods of physical placement to provide predictability and stability for the child
  • The availability of public or private child-care services
  • The cooperation and communication between the parties and whether either party unreasonably refuses to cooperate or communicate with the other party
  • Whether each party can support the other party’s relationship with the child, or whether one party is likely to unreasonably interfere with the child’s continuing relationship with the other party
  • Whether there is evidence that a party engaged in abuse of the child
  • Whether any of the following has a criminal record and whether there is evidence that any of the following has engaged in abuse of the child or any other child or neglected the child or any other child:
    • A person with whom a parent of the child has a dating relationship
    • A person who resides, has resided, or will reside regularly or intermittently in a proposed custodial household
  • Whether there is any evidence of inter-spousal or domestic abuse
  • Whether either party has or had a significant problem with alcohol or drug abuse
  • Such other factors as the court may, in each individual case, determine to be relevant


Child Placement Schedule Example

In the event both parties have placement of ninety-two overnights or more, placement is considered shared. Although child placement is generally awarded based on overnights, equivalent care is also considered. An example of equivalent care would be a parent who works third shift, but cares for the children each day.

In 50/50 shared physical placement arrangements, many parents follow a 2-2-5 schedule, or a variation thereof, where one parent has the children for two weekdays, the other parent has the children for the following two weekdays, and then the parties alternate weekends from Friday to Monday morning. Below is an example placement chart to demonstrate the 2-2-5 schedule.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Mother Mother Father Father Mother Mother Mother
Week 2 Mother Mother Father Father Father Father Father

Another example illustrates a 9-5 schedule, which is sometimes flip-flopped during the summer so the schedule becomes 5-9 to the opposite parent.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Father Father Mother Father Mother Mother Mother
Week 2 Father Father Mother Father Father Father Father


Parents can negotiate any type of schedule that works for them and the minor children. Sometimes the schedule is nothing more than an agreement to work together on a substantially 50/50 basis, leaving the actual dates and times flexible, based on the minor children’s schedule and extracurricular activities. If the children are old enough, some parents prefer to have a one-week-on, one-week-off parenting schedule. Each family presents a different set of facts and circumstances to be considered and weighed when determining the appropriate placement schedule.


Shared Placement

“My husband wants shared placement of the children. What does shared placement mean?”

Pursuant to DCF 150.02(25m), shared placement means a parent who has a court ordered period of placement of at least 25% and is ordered by the court to assume the child’s basic support costs in proportion to the time that the parent has placement.

The child placement attorneys at Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C. law firm are knowledgeable, experienced and top-rated placement lawyers with local offices in West Bend and Germantown, serving Washington, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Dodge and Door Counties, Wisconsin.