Useful Child Custody and Placement Concepts


Is that "Custody" or "Placement?"
In Wisconsin, "custody" is distinct from "placement" and the terms are not interchangeable. "Placement" refers to the physical placement of the children, whereas  "custody" refers exclusively to major decision-making, such as the choice of schools and health care treatments.

Bringing an action to modify Custody or Placement.
Assuming previous custody and/or placement orders have been issued, either as the result of a divorce or paternity action, it is usually necessary to bring a motion before the circuit court to modify these arrangements. Once in place, unless there is a reasonable belief that there may be harm to the child, existing orders cannot be disputed for 2-years after the family court has made them. 

A substantial change.
After two years, and upon a "substantial change in circumstances," a motion may be brought before the family court. A "substantial change in circumstances" is a legal concept that establishes whether an action to modify an existing custody and/or placement order is warranted. 

Examples of a substantial change in circumstances are a significant deviation in the placement arrangements, such as a child spending substantially more or less time with a parent than was previously ordered or agreed to, the loss of a job, or a substantial increase or decrease in either parent's income.