How old does a child have to be to choose which parent to live with?

How old does a child have to be to choose which parent to live with?

Understanding Wisconsin custody and placement law is key

When you're going through a separation or divorce, your child's placement is a primary consideration. Custody and placement laws vary from state to state, so understanding Wisconsin law and how it may impact your family is key. More, having a trusted, experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference in looking out for your child's best interests. 

Understanding child custody and placement in Wisconsin

There is an important distinction between custody and placement in Wisconsin, which parents should understand as they enter into separation or divorce. Being awarded custody gives the parent decision-making authority for the child in question. In Wisconsin, the court presumes joint legal custody of the children is in their best interest. Meanwhile, a placement order gives the parent the right to have the child physically placed with them while also granting them control over daily decisions regarding the child's care.

How old must my child be to decide which parent they want to live with?

For a child to decide which parent they want to live with, they must be emancipated. Emancipation occurs when the child graduates from high school or when they reach the age of 18, typically. The court generally considers the child's wishes at any age, but will give their wishes greater weight as they become older; these wishes are usually communicated via the guardian ad litem, someone appointed by the court to represent the child's best interests in court proceedings. The guardian ad litem, however, may recommend something other than the child's wishes if they believe it is in the best interest of the child. In Wisconsin, children are generally only allowed to appear in court in very rare cases.

Finalization of the child's custody and placement can occur either after a trial or when an agreement is reached between the affected parties. If the case goes to trial, the court will consider several factors when making their custody and placement decision, including the wishes of the involved parties, including the child, the nature of family relationships, and child care availability. It will also consider any evidence of abuse, substance abuse or neglect.

Find an attorney near you with experience in child custody and placement

Pursuing legal action so that you can, by law, make decisions for your children or have them live with you can be an emotional and challenging road. Having trusted and experienced legal representation during a separation, divorce or other child custody and placement concern is essential to look out for your best interests and those of your child or children. Our divorce and family law attorneys in La Crosse have the knowledge and expertise to support, advise and advocate for you and your children during this difficult time. Contact us to learn more about your options.


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