Nov. 10, 2017 – Two Republican legislators are sponsoring legislation that would make it easier to modify child custody and placement orders.
Republican Rep. Jessie Rodriguez (R-Oak Creek) and Sen. Luther Olsen’s (R-Ripon) bill would give parents and the court the ability to incorporate anticipated changes in a child custody or placement order without having to return to court after the changes take place.
Currently, Wisconsin courts lack the authority to make changes to custody or placement orders within two years of a final judgment, even if there is certainty a future event or change in conditions will occur. Meaning, a parent going through a health issue who is temporarily unable to care for a child can’t legally modify placement during his or her treatment and recovery, or parents of a newborn can’t build in modifications to a custody order to address the needs of a child as he or she transitions from infancy to toddlerhood.
The State Bar’s Family Law Section board worked with Rep. Rodriguez and Sen. Olsen on this proposal in an effort to increase flexibility for parents and to allow the courts to be more adaptable as families go through predictable changes. These changes will also benefit children greatly by reducing the frequency and intensity of post-judgment custody and placement litigation, which studies have documented time and again has a damaging impact on children.
Allowing the courts flexibility to address foreseeable changes in the child's and/or parent’s life is a positive step in improving the often difficult experiences people have with a custody or placement order.