Child Custody: 5 Legal Terms You MUST Know

Little daughter closing dads eyes with hands and laughing after child custody caseEvery state has different regulations regarding child custody; Wisconsin is no different.  That’s why it’s important to contact a lawyer when you have questions about your current or future child custodial issues, find out your rights, and the processes needed for your specific child custody case (some cases can be settled without going to court).  When you do contact a local attorney for your case, be prepared for these child custody and child support terms to come up during your consultation.

Sole Legal Custody

Legal custody does not mean the child is physically with you at all times, but it does mean full decision-making rights for all major decisions for the child. This could include where to send the child to school, religious preferences, or choosing their primary physician.

Joint Legal Custody

If this term comes up during your child custody proceedings, this means that both parties have the right to make major decisions for the child TOGETHER.  This arrangement means that each custodial party (typically each parent) needs to consult with each other on decisions that are above and beyond routine daily decisions.

Physical Placement

Physical placement is just what it says: a schedule of where the child lives if more than one party is granted placement, or the place where the child resides if there is one.  If you find that the other party/parent is not participating in the placement schedule—not taking the child as the schedule dictates—keep track of the dates and times missed. Contact your lawyer to have the placement schedule modified.

Child Support

Child support is the amount ordered by the court that a party should pay to cover the needs of the child or children.  Child support is not always determined by physical placement; the amount and party ordered to pay is decided by the court.  Child support payments can be used for costs related to sheltering the child (i.e. mortgage, rent, utility bills, etc.) or expenses directly related to the child’s care (i.e. clothing, food, etc.)  Non-cash child support can also be ordered in the form of health insurance.

Child Visitation

This is the right to visit the child, on a schedule or with stipulations ordered by the court. Parents, grandparents, or other significant parties can be granted child visitation.

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