When the court makes an order on custody and placement, all of its consideration must be related to the best interest of the child. The court is prohibited from preferring one parent over the other on the basis of sex or gender. Separate from limited circumstances the court must consider several factors when determining the appropriate custody and placement arrangement. Wisconsin statute section 767.41(5) lists the factors for the court to consider and those factors are listed below:

–       The wishes of the child’s parent or parents, as shown by any stipulation between the parties, any proposed parenting plan or any legal custody or physical placement proposal submitted to the court at trial.

–       The wishes of the child, which may be communicated by the child or through the child’s guardian ad litem or other appropriate professional.

–       The cooperation and communication between the parties and whether either party unreasonably refuses to cooperate or communicate with the other party.

–       Whether each party can support the other party’s relationship with the child, including encouraging and facilitating frequent and continuing contact with the child, or whether one party is likely to unreasonably interfere with the child’s continuing relationship with the other party.

–       The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest.

–       The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents and the amount and quality of time that each parent has spent with the child in the past, any necessary changes to the parents’ custodial roles, and any reasonable lifestyle changes that a parent proposes to make to maximize placement with the child.

–       Whether either party or a person with whom either parent has a dating relationship has or had a significant problem with alcohol or drug abuse.

–       The child’s adjustment to the home, school, religion and community.

–       The age of the child and the child’s developmental and educational needs at different ages.

–       Whether the mental or physical health of a party, minor child or other person living in the household negatively affects the child’s intellectual, physical or emotional well-being.

–       Whether either party or a person with whom the parent has a dating relationship has a criminal record or whether there is evidence that they have engaged in child abuse or neglect.

–       Whether there is evidence of interspousal battery or domestic abuse

–       Reports of appropriate professionals; and

–       Any other factor the court determines relevant.

As indicated in other articles, the court takes into consideration the input from the guardian ad litem and with wishes of the child as conveyed by the guardian ad litem. There is a statutory presumption joint custody and shared placement is appropriate. Additionally, the court is required to set a schedule that maximized the amount of time the child spends with each parent. However, if the court determines that either party has engaged in interspousal batter or domestic abuse, there is a rebuttable presumption that it would be contrary to the best interests of the child for a joint custody and shared placement arrangement. If the court does deny periods of physical placement, it shall advise the party of the relevant factors that could cause a termination of parental rights.