Are there any laws that prevent convicted domestic abusing husbands from receiving custody of children in a divorce?

My cognitively disabled sister is divorcing her domestically abusive husband, and he has convinced her to agree to 50/50 custody of their two young children. The children themselves have not been hurt by him, but after knowing this man for four years I am concerned for their safety. He has been convicted of battery for the domestic abuse toward my sister including one instance that hospitalized her, multiple disorderly conduct charges, and in 1998 was charged with 2nd Degree Sexual Assault of Child and 4th Degree Sexual Assault. Are there any laws that would prevent him from receiving custody of their two children or any legal action that can be taken to prevent him from having them without supervision?

Green Bay, WI -

Attorney Answers (1)

Ronald K. Phillips

Ronald K. Phillips

Family Law Attorney - Bothell, WA
Answered

This is a serious matter - your sister should immediately consult with an attorney and contact the child support agency attorney for your county.

Wisconsin laws do protect children when a parent has been convicted of spousal abuse:

767.41(2)(d)1. Except as provided in subd. 4., if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a party has engaged in a pattern or serious incident of interspousal battery, as described under s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m), or domestic abuse, as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (am), pars. (am), (b), and (c) do not apply and there is a rebuttable presumption that it is detrimental to the child and contrary to the best interest of the child to award joint or sole legal custody to that party.

In other words, when there has been a serious case of interspousal battery/abuse, the burden is on the person convicted of that to show the court why it should *not* give the other spouse sole custody of the child.

Hopefully your sister has an attorney helping her through the divorce - if not, she really needs one, and now. Her attorney needs to be aware of what's happened and can help straighten this out.


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