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Wanting to change child's custody

Eau Claire, WI |

My husband and I are considering going to court to request switching his son's custody primarily to him. Right now he has shared custody in the court system but secondary physical placement. We want to change this because his son's mother has him in a situation that lacks any sort of stability. She has extreme mood swings that go from very happy to very low. During those low times, she will not even talk to my husband and I. They have been divorced for a year and a half. We have been married a year. She told him to leave after she had a new man living with her two full years ago now. in the last 3 mos she has had 3 live-in boyfriends. Within one or two weeks of those men being there, she has allowed them to be alone with her son. He is four. He does not show the ability to easily count to ten, nor does he fully know his abc's. his meals seem to be less than nutritious since he will only eat mcd's and pizza and the like. He won't eat my home-cooked meals. We had him potty trained at our house last summer yet he would show up from her house in soiled diapers. Usually his socks and face are dirty. Which is strange because he is almost obsessive about being clean. He tells me that his mom "is mean to (him)", "does not know what is best for him", and "does not play with (him) anymore". He is also angry that he sees these boyfriends more than his mom. She seems to be nearly incapable of having any sort of stability. In the same sentence she will tell me she doesn't want to change anything on her "poor little guy" because he has faced so much change and then say that she wants to change his schedule because it is "apparent in his behavior toward her that he is away from her too much". Really that means she doesn't want him around us. At our home he is taught good morals, fed home-cooked and nutritious meals. He has stability and people who love him more than they love themselves.

Do we have a case? I cannot stand to see him go through any more of this.

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Attorney answers 1


There are a lot of factors that go into the court's determination regarding placement and custody of a child. Typically, the court will require that there is a substantial change in circumstance before changing the placement scheme. It sounds like there may be a change. However, Wisconsin courts are typically very reluctant to change a child's placement scheme when the order has been in place less than 30 months. It sounds like your husband and his ex-wife have very different parenting styles. It may be helpful for them to attend a few joint counseling sessions with a family therapist to try to decide how your households can be more congruent. If therapy is objectionable, perhaps, the family can utilize the services of the family court counseling services available through the Eau Claire Co. Family Court Commissioner's Office to try to work through some of these issues voluntarily. If neither of these options are successful, then a motion needs to be filed. But, be prepared because litigation sometimes makes the situation even more tense for little kids. Good luck!