Family & Divorce

Terminating maintenance is a tall task for attorneys in Wisconsin because a termination of maintenance is permanent. To terminate maintenance, attorneys must show that the purposes or goals of maintenance, fairness and support, are no longer being accomplished under the circumstances confronting the parties at the time of termination. In termination cases, the courts will consider the style of living that the parties enjoyed during the marriage, the current income of the parties, and the assets of the parties.
Continue Reading Maintenance Termination and Hidden Assets

What is a Termination of Parental Rights?
Before a child may be adopted, they must be “available for adoption.” Availability can be accomplished through termination of the birth parents’ parental rights. In many states, this takes the form of a court order.
What is the Difference Between Voluntary and Involuntary Terminations of Parental Rights?
A voluntary termination of parental rights is the result of an informed and willing consent by a birth parent to termination of their parental rights.
Continue Reading Termination of Parental Rights: Voluntary vs. Involuntary

Wisconsin Statutes allow the court discretion to order maintenance—often also referred to as alimony or spousal support—in cases for annulment, divorce or legal separation. The statutes do not define a strict formula for courts to rely upon as to when maintenance should be ordered. There are, however, factors for the court to consider which are outline below and included in Wis. Stat. 767.56(1c).

Courts may grant maintenance for a limited or indefinite period after considering:

  • The length of the

Continue Reading Maintenance in Wisconsin: When and how is it ordered?

Getting a divorce can be a complex, difficult process. The strong emotions involved with the end of a marriage can be hard enough on their own, but they can be especially difficult when paired with financial issues and practical considerations related to living arrangements and parenting. Being prepared to address divorce-related issues can help make this process easier. If you are considering divorce in Wisconsin, it is important to understand the steps you can take to protect your interests
Continue Reading 9 Steps to Take When Preparing for Divorce

While the court is required to order support, it can deviate from the standard factors if determines that the percentage standard is unfair the child or either of the parties. The court is obligated to state in writing or on the record during a hearing the reason for an unfairness finding, the reason for the modification and the amount of support should be ordered.

Those factors that the court shall consider are found in Wisconsin Statute 767.511(1m), but will
Continue Reading Child Support Deviations from Standard Factors

In many family law cases it may become necessary for the court to appoint a guardian ad litem to conduct an investigation and make a recommendation relating to custody and placement. A guardian ad litem is a licensed attorney who has completed at least the minimum training to serve as an advocate for the best interests of children. A guardian ad litem may also be appointed in cases where are allegations of domestic abuse in the relationship.

In cases
Continue Reading Working with a guardian ad litem in family law cases

While part of me (a large part) would prefer a different topic for this month, avoiding the controversial issues affecting the Wisconsin Supreme Court is not consistent with my role as a columnist on our legal system. No, I’m not talking about any of the cases pending before them, which should be controversial enough. Rather, of course, it is the firestorm following the investiture of Justice Janet Protasiewicz who, to the dismay of some, won an election. Not that
Continue Reading Not Playing Nice Together

The Tailored Dispositional Orders Project is led by the Children’s Court Improvement Program (CCIP) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

The CHIPS Tailored Dispositional Project was piloted in three counties during 2021-22. The project is now being expanded statewide to counties that are interested in improving their CHIPS and Youth Justice conditions.

Counties participating in the project have seen a reduction in the number of conditions, language that is easier for parents and youth to understand, and
Continue Reading Improving CHIPS and Youth Justice Conditions through the Tailored Dispositional Orders Project

Pursuant to 767.511 of the Wisconsin Statutes when the court enters a judgment for annulment, divorce, legal separation or an order regarding paternity, it must order one or both of the parties to pay reasonable child support. Child support is paid from one parent to the other and is intended to finically support the expenses for the child or children for food, clothing, housing, utilities, transportation and personal care and healthcare. The parties may come to an agreement for
Continue Reading Child Support Standard Orders and Obligations

Those keeping an eye on the Wisconsin Supreme Court know that it’s been in the news a bit over the last month. But in this column, we look past the internal politics of the court and review the civil cases currently pending before it, paying special attention to those affecting civil practitioners in Wisconsin. The court kicks off its 2023–24 term with a relatively light September oral argument calendar, featuring just two civil cases. Constitutional rights and tax
Continue Reading Wisconsin Supreme Court Update: September 2023

In Wisconsin, child custody cases can often be complex and emotionally charged. Parents will often encounter disputes over how they will share custody of their children, including how they will make decisions about important issues, when children will live in each parent’s home, and how they will handle various childcare duties. In some cases, a parent may believe that they should have sole custody of their children rather than sharing custody with the other parent. It is important to
Continue Reading When Is Sole Custody an Option in Wisconsin Family Law Cases?

Guardians ad litem (GAL) ​​are tasked with the unique role of representing a child’s wishes and their best interest. Everything a GAL does is to ensure that children have safe environments to grow up in and the most meaningful relationships possible with their families.

It is important that GALs understand the impact a child with disabilities has on their family, so they can effectively be an advocate for the child.

Every professional who works within and around the child
Continue Reading Unveiling the Gaps: Improving Our Advocacy for Disabled Children

Guardian Ad Litems are appointed by courts in custody and placement disputes to help educate the court on what placement and custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child or children. When determining if an arrangement is in the best interests, the Guardian Ad Litem will look at 16 factors. Those factors are enumerated in Wis. Stat. Sect. 767.41(5). None of the factors discuss firearms.

In the absence of any direction on how to handle firearms, firearm
Continue Reading Firearms and the Best Interests of the Children: Can a Guardian Ad Litem Take My Guns?

It doesn’t come up often, but when it does, it’s a problem.

If, through the course of litigation, you come to believe that a self-represented opposing party is incompetent, there is a fairly simple procedure outlined in the Wisconsin statutes to both protect the party’s interest and keep the case moving.

Wis. Stat. section 803.01(3)(a) is mostly used for minors, but it applies to potentially incompetent parties as well. It reads, in part:

If a party to an action
Continue Reading What To Do If You Believe a Pro Se Party May Be Incompetent

In divorces involving minor children two of the biggest concerns for parents are custody and placement of the children. Both terms are easily incorrectly used interchangeably so it is important to explain the differences between the two and what they mean.

Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make major decisions concerning the child. Those major decisions include the right to consent to marriage, the right to consent to a child entering military service, obtaining a driver’s license,
Continue Reading Placement or Custody?

Deciding whether to file for a divorce can be an emotional and difficult decision for people to make, especially when there are young children involved. Many people are likely left without direction or knowing how to start the processes. There are a few basic guidelines for a divorce that are imposed by the legislature, dictating where a petition for divorce should be filed, the grounds for obtaining a divorce and how quickly the divorce may be granted.

In order
Continue Reading Divorce Basics in Wisconsin