WI Parenting Plans (Custody and Placement Agreements)
Parenting plans detail how parents who aren't in a relationship will handle the many aspects of raising their child.
Parents can draft a plan together, with or without help from an attorney or an alternative dispute resolution method like mediation. It can become part of the final order once approved by a judge or commissioner as part of a settlement.
When parents cannot agree, each proposes the parenting plan they believe is best for their child.
In some counties, parents must submit a proposed plan within 60 days of giving up on court-ordered mediation or having the mediation requirement waived. If they don't, the court may not allow them to object to the other parent's proposal.
Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.
Parenting plan templates
Many judges require parents without attorneys to use Wisconsin's Proposed Parenting Plan template. To add detail, parents can attach documents, such as a visual placement calendar or a list of parenting provisions.
Other judges let parents use a personalized format for their plan, such as a Custody X Change parenting plan.
If you have an attorney, you can save them time (and save yourself money) by giving them a draft of the parenting plan you have in mind.
Information required in your plan
At a minimum, Wisconsin requires parenting plans to address the following topics.
Legal custody (decision-making authority)
Legal custody gives someone the right and responsibility to make major child-rearing decisions. This can go to one parent (sole legal custody) or both (joint legal custody).
Your plan must say who can make major decisions regarding:
- Nonemergency health care
- Education (List the child's school and district.)
- Child care providers (Name approved providers.)
- Extracurricular activities
- Religion (Specify a religion, if any.)
Resolving disagreements (joint legal custody only)
If both parents are allowed to make major decisions, stipulate what to do when you reach a stalemate. Will you allow one parent to have the final say, return to court or leave the decision to someone else, such as a parenting coordinator?
Physical placement is where the child lives and regularly stays. You must specify the type of placement for each child in your case.
A placement schedule details the length of time the child spends with each parent. The state's template has space for a two-week schedule and a holiday schedule that's based on even and odd years. You can attach an alternate schedule to use a different arrangement or provide more detail.
If it's unsafe for the child to be alone with a parent, set requirements for supervised visitation.
Specify how the child will get between parents' homes. Choose one of the following:
- The parent who has the child will drop them off.
- The parent who doesn't have the child will pick them up.
- One parent will always transfer the child.
Maintaining contact with the other parent
Explain if and how the child can communicate with the parent they're away from. Give as much detail as possible. Is any equipment (cell phone, laptop, etc.) required? During which hours is calling allowed?
Child support and expenses
Indicate on your plan whether you'll follow the child support guidelines or are proposing a different amount. If you're proposing an amount, explain why. Detail any other payments you suggest or agree a parent should make.
You must explain how you'll share the costs of child care and education, and you can include other expenses as well.
The child's healthcare
List the child's doctors, which parent is responsible for obtaining the child's health insurance coverage and how you'll share health care expenses.
Include the name, city and state of your employer, your current home address and where you plan to live during the next two years. If your case involves domestic violence, you can just include a general description of locations.
Suggested information to consider including
The more detailed your parenting plan, the more effective it will be. While you don't have to address the topics below, including them helps you avoid disagreements down the line.
This can cover how you'll discipline your children. For example, if a child is grounded at one parent's house, does this carry over to the other house? You can also include things like dietary restrictions and bedtimes.
Canceling a period of placement
Specify what happens when a parent misses a visit. How much advance notice must they give? Can the visit be rescheduled?
Consider incorporating vacations into your placement schedule. You can specify dates or allot each parent a certain length of time to take the child away over a year.
Require both parents to communicate respectfully so that tension doesn't impact your child. If a child frequently hears one parent badmouth the other, they're more likely to hold negative feelings toward the maligned parent.
Making sure you don't overlook anything
While the state's parenting plan template covers a lot of important information, it doesn't know your family's circumstances. To ensure your child's needs are fully addressed, make sure to add custom provisions or build your own plan.
Custody X Change enables you to do both. In the app, you can choose from over 140 popular provisions, as well as enter rules unique to your family.
This creates a document you can attach to the Wisconsin template or submit on its own (if your judge allows).
In the end, you'll be glad you made a thorough plan that will work for you and your child for years to come.
For more guidance as you create your parenting plan, see these resources: