FIVE MAJOR ISSUES
IN FAMILY COURT ACTIONS
Physical placement refers to where a child lives or spends time.
Placement was formerly called visitation. If the parties cannot agree on
placement, they will be referred to mediation. If mediation is not
successful, a Guardian ad litem will be appointed and a custody study will
be ordered. The Court’s ultimate determination will be based upon the
factors found at § 767.41(5)(am) of the Wisconsin Statutes.
Custody refers to the right to make major decisions for a child. Major
decisions include, but are not limited to, decisions regarding consent to
marry, consent to enter military service, consent to obtain a motor vehicle
operator’s license, authorization for non-emergency health care and choice
of school and religion. If the parties cannot agree on custody, they will be
referred to mediation. If mediation is not successful, a Guardian ad Litem
will be appointed and a custody study will be ordered. The Court’s ultimate
determination will be based upon the factors found at § 767.41(5)(am) of the
Child support is the obligation of a parent to provide support to a child
and is based upon a percentage of gross income standard. The standard is 17%
for one child, 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four
children and 34% for five or more children.
However, upon the request of a party, the Court may deviate from the
percentage standards if it is found to be unfair after consideration of the
factors found at § 767.511(1m) of the Wisconsin Statutes.
Additionally, the following special circumstances may warrant a deviation
from the percentage standard: A serial family situation where a payer has
children living in more than one household. A shared placement family where
both parents have placement for at least 92 overnights a year. If the
payer’s earning capacity is below established limits. If the payer’s earns
more than $84,000.00 per year. The guidelines for these circumstance are set
forth in DWD 40.44.
Maintenance, which was formerly called alimony, is the payment from one
spouse to another for spousal support. Maintenance broadly involves two
objectives: to support the recipient spouse in accordance with the needs and
earning capacities of the parties (the support objective) and to ensure a
fair and equitable financial arrangement between the parties in each
individual case (the fairness objective). The factors the Court will
consider when determining maintenance issues are found at § 767.56 of the
There is a presumption that all property is to be divided equally.
However, gifted or inherited property is generally excepted from this
presumption. The factors the Court will consider when determining property
division issues are found at § 767.61 of the Wisconsin Statutes.