WHAT ARE THE STANDARDS IN WISCONSIN FOR PHYSICAL PLACEMENT?Physical placement means where a child is physically, and is usually counted by number of overnights with the party.If the parties can’t reach an agreement, the court will determine physical placement based on the child’s best interests. The court will consider several factors, including: the child’s wishes; the child’s relationship with each parent, with siblings, and with any other person who may affect their best interests; the amount and quality of the time each parent spent with the child in the past; any reasonable changes proposed by the parent to be able to spend more time with the child in the future; the child’s adjustment to the home, school, religion and community; the child’s age and age-related developmental and education needs; the mental and physical health of the parties, the minor children, and other persons living in the proposed custodial household; the need for regularly occurring and meaningful periods of visitation and physical placement in order to provide predictability and stability for the child; the availability of public or private child care services; whether each party can support the other party’s relationship with the child, or whether one party is likely to interfere with the child’s continuing relationship with the other party or to unreasonably refuse to cooperate or communicate with the other party.WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL STEPS IN A CHILD PLACEMENT/CUSTODY CASE?Usually, there will be an initial hearing in front of a judge or a court commissioner to see if the parents can agree on a schedule. If there is no agreement, usually the case is referred to mediation. If mediation fails, then most counties will appoint a guardian ad litem and/or order a child custody study. A guardian ad litem, commonly referred to as a GAL, is a lawyer who will represent the best interests of the child(ren). If the parties still cannot agree, eventually the case will go to trial. A typical timeline is anywhere between 2 months and a year or more, depending on if the case is settled quickly or goes to trial. Temporary orders are usually possible while waiting for the full case to be completed.HOW ARE CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATIONS MADE?If one parent has the child the majority of the time, known as primary placement, typically child support will be based on the statutory guidelines: 17% of gross income for one child; 25% of gross income for two children; 29% of gross income for three children, and 31% of gross income for four children. Either parent may request a deviation from these standard calculations, and the court may use a different formula for high or low income payers.A Shared Placement formula is used if both parents have the child at least 25% (92 overnights per year) of the time. This formula looks at the income of both parents and the amount of time spent with each parent. Other costs, such as health insurance premiums, may also be considered.WHAT DO I DO IF I’M BEHIND ON CHILD SUPPORTIf you’re having trouble meeting your child support obligations it is important to speak with an attorney to determine if a modification possible. Once you get behind on your support payments, there are severe penalties that may be imposed, ranging from losing your driver’s license to being sentenced to jail.IS AN ATTORNEY REALLY NECESSARY?There is no easy answer to this question. People handle family law disputes on their own (pro se) all the time. Working with an experienced family law attorney allows you to be sure your rights are being protected. Also, having an attorney who can negotiate on your behalf often makes the difference in being able reach a satisfactory agreement instead of having a decision imposed by the judge. An attorney can make a realistic assessment of your case, advise you on court procedures, knows how to get evidence admitted, and can frame appropriate legal arguments for the court.