Legal Information: Wisconsin


October 5, 2021

How will a judge make a decision about custody?

When making a decision about custody or visitation, the judge will consider all facts relevant to the best interest of the child. These factors include:

  • the wishes of the child’s parent or parents, as shown by any proposed parenting plan or any legal custody or physical placement proposal submitted to the court;
  • the wishes of the child, which may be communicated by the child or through the child’s guardian ad litem or other appropriate professional;
  • the interaction and relationship the child has with his/her parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
  • the amount and quality of time that each parent has spent with the child in the past;
  • any necessary life-style changes that a parent proposes to make to be able to spend time with the child in the future;
  • the child’s adjustment to the home, school, religion and community;
  • the age of the child and the child’s developmental and educational needs at different ages;
  • whether the mental or physical health of anyone living with one of the parties asking for custody/visitation negatively affects the child’s intellectual, physical, or emotional well-being;
  • the ability of a party to provide predictability and stability for the child;
  • the availability of 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, including encouraging and facilitating frequent and continuing contact 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 or child abuse;
  • whether any of the following people has a criminal record and whether there is evidence that any of the following has engaged in child abuse or neglect, of the child or any other child:
    • a person with whom a parent of the child has a dating relationship;
    • a person who lives, has lived or will live with the party; or
  • whether there is evidence of interspousal battery or domestic abuse;
  • whether either party has or had a significant problem with alcohol or drug abuse; and
  • the reports of appropriate professionals if admitted into evidence or such other factors as the judge decides is relevant.1

1 Wis. Stat. § 767.41(5)(am)

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