In Wisconsin a child of divorce has some input in how child custody and visitation responsibility is allocated, particularly if the child is able to understand the situation and form a mature and rational opinion to support their wishes.
Although there are no age related guidelines to look to, certainly a child who is in high school is more likely to understand and articulate the implications of choosing to live with only one parent compared to a preschool or elementary aged child, so the court will be inclined to take an older child’s wishes under consideration.
Depending on the circumstances, a judge may meet privately with the child to discuss their preference for spending time with one parent over the other parent, or may order a custody evaluation or appoint a guardian ad litem to gather more information to make an informed decision regarding custody.
The wishes of the child is but one factor in the overall assessment of what is in the best interests of the child, however. When making a custody determination, the court will consider other factors too:
Both parents’ wishes regarding custody and their ability to work together to make a parenting plan work
The relationship the child has with each parent, including the time each parent has spent caring for the child in recent years and what caretaking arrangement the parents may have previously agreed to
The child’s relationship with other members of each household which may include a parent’s significant other or a step parent, half or step siblings, live in roommates and the like
The physical and mental health of both parents and the child and if the parents are capable and willing to support the needs of the child
The distance between the parents’ homes geographically, and the ability of the child to adjust to changes in their home environment, community and school whether that is because of distance between the homes or just shifting environments to facilitate a visitation agreement
Whether there is a history of violence or abuse situations perpetrated by a parent against the child
Other relevant factors
When you have questions regarding Wisconsin child custody, contact the family law attorneys at Probst Law Offices for answers at 414-210-3135.