A child custody order may no longer work for your family as circumstances change over time. Wisconsin parents can request modification of the custody arrangement under certain conditions.
Understanding when and how the court will modify custody can help you decide on the next steps if you think a change would benefit your child.
Substantial change in circumstances
Wisconsin requires the parent requesting modification to show a substantial change in circumstances. It must directly impact the child’s well-being or significantly alter the conditions outlined in the existing custody order. Examples include a parent’s relocation, changes in work schedule or concerns about the child’s safety in one parent’s care.
Agreement between parents
If both parents agree on the suggested modifications, they may submit an adjusted agreement to the court for approval. This collaborative approach can expedite the process and reflects the parents’ shared commitment to the child’s best interests.
The need for a legal motion
If parents cannot reach an agreement, the party seeking the modification must file a motion with the court. It should outline the reasons for the requested changes and provide evidence supporting a substantial change in circumstances.
The court will assess the proposed modifications and their potential impact on the child. The judge aims to ensure that any adjustments serve the child’s best interests. The court considers factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, their adjustment to the community and school and any history of abuse or neglect.
In some cases, the court may recommend mediation services to help parents reach a resolution without a lengthy court battle. Mediation allows parents to work together with a neutral third party to find common ground and develop a modified custody agreement that prioritizes the child’s well-being.
If you cannot reach an agreement through mediation, the court will make a decision based on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will reflect what the court determines to be most favorable for the child’s overall welfare.
Wisconsin has a divorce rate of about 1 in 500 residents. If you divorce as a parent, a flexible mindset can ensure that your parenting arrangement continues to benefit your child’s best interests over the years.