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Who decides child custody matters in divorce?

Are you getting ready to pull the plug on your marriage? Do you have children that you need to consider while doing so? If you do, you probably have a lot of questions about child custody and who gets to decide how it will work out for your family.

In Wisconsin, child custody matters are generally determined in one of two ways. Either the parents will work out an agreement that they think is best, or a judge will get to decide. The former is ideal.

Parental negotiation

While the divorce process is rarely an easy thing to get through, plenty of couples can do so amicably, or amicably enough that they can reach settlement terms on their own or with the assistance of counsel. They only need a judge to sign off on it when all is complete. Negotiations can take place in private, in mediation sessions or at an attorney's office. If both parties choose, they can also have their legal counsel negotiate a custody agreement based on their wishes.

Court intervention

If you and your soon-to-be ex are unable to come to agreeable custody terms, taking the matter to court may be unavoidable. If this becomes necessary, you'll have to:

  • File an official custody case.
  • Schedule a hearing.
  • Share your thoughts with the judge.

Both parties will have the opportunity to present their case for custody to the court. A judge will make a decision based on the information shared by both parents and any professionals asked to give their opinion on the matter.

Are custody orders permanent?

Not necessarily. It is possible to seek a modification if there is a good reason to do so. The courts do not like to interrupt a schedule that already seems to be serving the best interests of the children. If both parties wish to modify an existing order, they may negotiate new terms on their own. If only one party wishes for the change, one must file an official modification request.

Do what you think is best for your children

When it comes to child custody matters, you have to do what you think is best for your children. You know them better than anyone else. You know what will help them thrive and what will only cause problems. Whether you are in a place where negotiating with your ex is possible or you have to go to court, with the right assistance, you can achieve a custody plan that best suits your family's needs.

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