By Attorney Max Stephenson

Issues related to child custody are often the most difficult part of a divorce. Parents must learn to balance not wanting to live under a different roof than their children and wanting the best for their kids. Determining the best way to address these issues can be challenging for a judge to determine. They must look at every facet of the child’s life and factor in each parent’s ability to meet a child’s needs. In most situations, parents will have shared or joint custody of their children. In these cases, parents will share in the right to make decisions about how to raise their children, and the children will typically spend significant amounts of time with each parent.

Are There Different Forms of Joint Custody?

Joint custody arrangements can vary significantly from family to family. The time a child spends in the care of a parent is known as placement. Primary placement refers to where the child will live the majority of the time. This parent is known as the custodial parent. 

Shared placement has the child living with each parent at least 25% of the time. This is common with most families. It gives the child a good amount of time with each parent while still signifying a “primary home” for them. 

Split placement is not as common, but it is an option used by some families. For couples with multiple children, some instances warrant a child or two staying with one parent and other children living at their other parent’s house.

How Do Custody Arrangements Affect Child Support?

Custody arrangements are a primary factor considered when calculating child support payments. In most cases, the higher earning parent will have to pay some form of child support to ensure that the children’s needs are met. For those with sole custody in which one parent has the children for fewer than 92 overnights per year, the court will take the non-custodial parent’s monthly income and multiply it by an assigned percentage that reflects the number of children they have. These percentages are set by law. These percentages are:

  • 1 child – 17%
  • 2 children – 25%
  • 3 children – 29%
  • 4 children – 31%
  • 5 or more children – 34%

In shared placement situations in which each parent has the children for at least 92 overnights per year, the percentages above will be determined for each parent’s monthly income. The resulting amounts will be multiplied by 1.5, and each parent’s total will be multiplied by the other parent’s percentage of overnights. Of the two results, the lower amount will be subtracted from the higher amount to determine the amount of the monthly support payment that will be paid by the parent with the higher amount.

What Are Common Child Custody Arrangements?

There are a few schedules that are common for joint custody arrangements. A 50/50 plan has the child spending equal time at both parents’ houses. Since there is an uneven number of days in the week, most kids will spend four days at one house and three at the other, alternating each week. Some families will rotate each week to avoid switching houses in the middle of the week. A 60/40 schedule commonly utilizes an extended weekend every week. In other words, the child will stay at one house Friday night through Sunday night and return to the other house for weeknights. A 70/30 schedule is very similar. The child will live at one parent’s house Friday and Saturday night, then they will live at their primary home the rest of the week.

A Milwaukee Child Custody Attorney Can Help

Parents are rarely able to create child custody arrangements without conflict or disagreement. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin, & Brown, LLP, we understand the complex and sensitive nature of child custody cases, and we will work to help you determine what is best for your child. If you are considering divorce and need to address the custody of your children, contact our Milwaukee, WI family law attorneys at [[phone]].



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