Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nesting Arrangement

I tell people that the only limits on how to create a placement schedule for your children is your own imagination. That might seem like an odd statement, but what works for your children might not work for the family down the street. Children at different ages need different schedules. Often, it is easiest to start a separation by implementing a nesting arrangement. Instead of having your children bounce between households, you as the parents move in and out. For example, some teenagers can go a week without seeing one parent (or even noticing one parent is missing), so mom takes week one and dad takes week two. On Sunday at noon mom leaves for her parents for the week and dad moves in for the week. Next Sunday, mom and dad switch. When parents live it first, they can under the impact living in two households has on their children. (i.e. How aggravating it is leaving items behind on accident, like homework or a tooth brush. Parents also get the benefit of test driving a schedule to see if it works for the children before a divorce is final. But, nesting arrangements are not, repeat not, for everyone. If you are going to fight over who buys what for the house, who mows the lawn, who cleans, . . . its not for you. The children will be negatively impacted by the bickering and annoyed with having to call mom on dad's week to ask if they can drink mom's orange juice in the frig.

While this posting is not full of legal terms or theories, I still have to remind readers that this is no substitute for legal advice from an attorney who knows your particular family situation.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What is the difference between custody and placement?

Quite often, parents are confused by the terms "custody" and "placement" when they start legal proceedings involving their children in Wisconsin. I always start my explanation of placement by telling people that placement is where the children are physically during the week. For example, Mom has placement of the children on Mondays and Tuesdays, Dad has placement of the children on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and the children alternate weekends between Mom and Dad's homes.

Custody is not as straight forward. Custody is defined as "... the right and responsibility to make major decisions concerning the child, except with respect to specified decisions as set forth by the court or the parties in the final judgment or order." Wisconsin Statute 767.001 (2). So what is a major decision? The statute goes on to say that a major decision "includes, but is not limited to, decisions regarding consent to marry, consent to enter military service, consent to obtain a motor vehicle operator’s license, authorization for nonemergency health care and choice of school and religion."

Obviously, we are not talking about what cereal the kids eat for breakfast. But, what if that nonemergency health care involves braces? I want my child to have braces, but my former spouse says no? The best way to avoid being back in court after a divorce or paternity case is to raise these issues in the beginning. Sure, some people can't agree the sky is blue when they are in the midst of a divorce; however, if you know that you and your spouse or child's parent have different views on when your child can drive or what school they should attend, raise the issue now.

As always, this blog posting is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney that knows your specific circumstances. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the reading of this website. Use the information on this blog at your own risk.