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Courts tended to side with mothers in child custody cases for much of the 20th century. In fact, joint custody was so rare in some jurisdictions that it was largely reserved for children of criminal or psychologically unstable mothers. But now, courts in Wisconsin and other states are likely to consider or even encourage joint custody for children of divorced parents.

This applies to both major types of child custody: physical and legal. Physical custody deals with where a child spends time, while legal custody is more complex because it deals with how decisions essential to the upbringing of a child are made. Physical custody, or at least most of it, still goes to the mother most of the time purely for practical reasons. Children would need two different schools and activity groups if they evenly split time.

Sole legal custody, however, was given to mothers four out of five times in 1980. By 2014, only 42% of cases involved sole legal custody for the mother. Some experts believe that the increase in divorce rates and more relaxed laws around ending marriages in the 1980s contributed to this change.

This means that parents are expected to have more of a case for child custody that focuses on the interests of the child in question. Courts are more likely to consider the desires of a parent who would have a better home life and make better decisions for the child’s happiness and future success.

Attorneys are able to help parents preparing to divorce gather the required evidence and prepare their case to be a major part of their children’s lives.