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How can I gain sole legal custody & sole placement with visitation at my discretion if I agreed to 50-50 custody under pressure?

Milwaukee, WI |

I agreed to joint custody of my daughter because I thought it would help relations between her father and I. It has had the opposite effect, and now I am worried about her future with us both trying to grab the "wheel" to make decisions for her life. How can I win full custody, sole placement, and have visitation be at my discretion? Because he is reckless and violent.

Attorney Answers 3


Unfortunately you are likely stuck with this arrangement at least for 2 years. If you can prove that a change in placement is necessary because the conditions with the other parent are emotionally or physically harmful to your child, then a court may award you primary placement. Otherwise you have to wait at least 2 years before filing a motion to modify placement and then you may only file if there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the best interests of your child.

Obtaining sole legal custody is next to impossible. A parent has to be incapable of making decisions for his child or completely unavailable. So even if you would obtain primary placement, you would need to continue to discuss the major decisions for your child with your ex.

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Most counties give deference to any previous custody orders entered in the past 2 years. (The statute requires this deference for initial custody/placement orders in divorce but I believe some judges will not give similar deference to subsequent orders unless the parties specifically agree to that deference. Speak with whatever attorney you hire (yes, you're going to need a good one to go back on what you agreed to) to find out about what he/she thinks your judge will do with your unique circumstances.

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It will be very difficult to modify the placement order within two years of the most recent order. The court will not grant a modification within that two year period unless it is necessary to protect the children from immediate harm. Similarly, based on what you have written, it is unlikely that you could withdraw from the stipulation on the grounds that you were pressured into it. Simply because your goal in making the agreement was not realized, it is not grounds to withdraw from the agreement. On the other hand, if it has been more than two years since the last order, and if it is in the children's best interest to change the arrangement, the court may be inclined to do so.

This answer is for informational purposes only. By answering this question, no attorney/client relationship is created. Although the legal information is accurate, it may not be appropriate for your situation. The best way to handle any legal problem is to seek the advice of an attorney.

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