February 25, 2010

Contact:   Rep. Seidel (608) 266-0654; Sen. Taylor (608) 266-5810

 

Assembly Passes Bill to Provide Critical Information to Parents in Family Court Cases

Bill authored by Rep. Seidel and Sen. Taylor requires custody studies to be offered in accordance with rules of evidence

MADISON, WIS. – Today the Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill that will require custody studies in family court actions to be submitted in accordance with the rules of evidence.  This important change in the law provides parents with the opportunity to find out how critical decisions regarding the legal custody and physical placement of their children were arrived at. 

Under current law, absent an agreement by the parties, legal custody and physical placement orders for children in family court actions are largely determined by custody studies.  These studies are generally accepted in the court record as a matter of course and parents are not afforded with the opportunity to find out how these critical decisions involving their children were arrived at.

“Given the critical role that custody studies play in family court actions, it is surprising that current law does not subject them to any type of meaningful review,” said Rep. Seidel (D – Wausau).  “While this may only be a two-page bill, it will have a profound impact on families in Wisconsin trying to navigate the complicated and often times intimidating family court process.  This legislation will provide parents in very stressful situations with some much needed peace of mind and will promote increased confidence in the family court process.” 

“At times, parents involved in family court actions, have felt an undue pressure to rebut and refute custody studies, but had no option to do so,” Sen. Taylor (D - Milwaukee) commented.  “With the passage of this bill, parents will be able to question the validity of these studies so that the court may make the most sound judgment possible about custody.”

This proposal was previously passed unanimously by the Wisconsin State Senate and will now head to Governor Doyle for his signature.  It has received support from a bipartisan group of state legislators and a broad coalition of groups with a strong interest in family law matters including Legal Action of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the State Bar of Wisconsin and a number of father’s rights groups.