15850 W. Bluemound Rd. Suite 304 • Brookfield, WI 53005

15850 W. Bluemound Rd. Suite 304 • Brookfield, WI 53005 • 262-788-5335

Planning Your Child’s Mental Health Care During Divorce

Parenting a child with a significant mental health issue can be stressful and trying. Often, attending to their needs can mean seeing numerous specialists and even watching them endure multiple hospitalizations. There can also be challenges that come with making sure that they get the right accommodations at school. When the family is going through a divorce, parents will have to consider the right ways to make sure their child’s needs will be met today and in the future.

Child Custody and Placement

In Wisconsin, child custody means a parent’s ability to make decisions regarding their kids.  The law presumes that joint legal custody is in the best interest of a child.  The decision-making authority will include deciding about medical and mental health treatment for the child.  If parents are on the same page regarding their child’s care, this may not present a problem. However, when they disagree, there could be problems ensuring that their child gets the treatment they need. Further, one parent may be more informed and better equipped to make therapeutic choices. During divorce, it will be critical for parents to explore this issue and develop ways to resolve disputes efficiently.

Child placement & visitation rights refer to the parent’s right to have their child physically with them and make routine decisions about their care. Wisconsin law favors a placement schedule that allows a child to have frequent contact with both parents.  However, when a child has a mental health condition, their placement schedule may need to be planned to support their well-being.  For instance, if structure and routine are important to keep the child’s symptoms under control, the child may need to be in one parent’s home during the school week while seeing the other parent on the weekend.

Child Support

Wisconsin courts follow guidelines when establishing child support which takes numerous factors into consideration including a child’s health. Many parents have questions regarding spousal support or alimony. As parents are negotiating their divorce, they will need to be mindful of the expenses associated with their child’s mental health condition and treatment. Child support in Wisconsin ends when a child turns 18 or 19 if they are still in primary or high school. The law does not obligate a parent to pay support after this point. The fact that the child may not be able to live independently because of their condition does not impact the limit on child support. However, parents can develop agreements between themselves to continue support into the child’s adulthood.