Latest from Family Law Update

Though I try to discuss new topics in each of my columns, every once in a while, there is something which merits further discussion.

Such is the case with a simple idea: Courts should serve the public. In particular, parties should be allowed to be divorced without the costs and inconvenience of a public court appearance.

Wis. Stats. §767.235(1) requires that “…all hearings and trials to determine whether judgment shall be granted…shall be before the court.” However, this is
Continue Reading Courts meant to serve the public


Family Law Videos
WI Court Opinions
Legal Publications

By Attorney Gregg HermanMay 5, 2022

In all of the columns which I have written for this publication over the years (and there have been many) none have elicited more an angry response than my article on the Court of Appeals decision in Valadez v. Valadez, 2021AP1500: “The Valadez case: A bad start to the year.”
My article criticized the Court of Appeals for reversing the trial court’s custody
Continue Reading VALADEZ – PART 2: Returning to the subject of my most debated column

The former news talk show “The Mclaughlin Group” used to give an annual award for the “Best Political Theater.” If that show was still on the air, the nomination hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson would win hands down.

Amid the political posturing, the most disturbing occurrence was the the criticism lobbed at her over her representation of bad people, aka, criminals. For example, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, said that judicial nominees who have served as public
Continue Reading The Brown Jackson nomination hearings and what they say about the duty to represent bad people

Magnifier and documents. Information search.

In law, as in many things in life, some ideas are better in theory than in practice.

It is not uncommon that the Legislature, which has precious few lawyers (most sessions have ten or fewer lawyers out of 133 state Senators and Representatives, and almost none of them has ever been in the private practice of law), passes legislation which sounds good on its face but has a different practical effect. The phrase which
Continue Reading Will Courts Really Enforce Proposed Financial Information Exchange Rules?

Last weekend, the CBS show “Sunday Morning” did a segment on lawyer advertising.

Of course they showed clips from the over-the-top ads which seem to be mostly from Texas. The effect, as one who believes that the practice of law should be more of a profession than a business, was cringe inducing.

Let me start by conceding the obvious. First, according to the United States Supreme Court, lawyers have a 1st Amendment right to advertise. Second, even before the
Continue Reading Lawyer Advertising: Is it Hucksterism or a Valid Business Practice?

The first family-law case to be recommended for publication by the Court of Appeals in almost two years makes me wish that it would have been longer. Well, the good news is that when I write my end of the year column for 2022 highlighting bad decisions, I will have a good start.

On December 29, the District 2 Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Valadez v. Valadez, No. 2020AP1006, which reversed an order by the Honorable Michael
Continue Reading The Valadez case: A bad start to the year

Last month’s column took a look back at the developments in family law for 2021. So, it seems appropriate to dedicate this month’s column to a look ahead to 2022.

Of course, any “look ahead” needs to be prefaced with a quote from my favorite philosopher, Yogi Berra: “Predictions are very difficult to make – especially about the future.”

For over ten years, I have put together a family-law case and legislation-update program for the State Bar of
Continue Reading Look Ahead to 2022 with Family Law

A few weeks out of law school, I got my dream job.

Then-Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann took a chance on a naïve, inexperienced, 24-year-old, a decision I’m sure he has since regretted many times! After some short training, I was sent into court and given two instructions: First, don’t f**k up. Second, if you do f**k up, don’t let it get in the newspapers.

Both were good pieces of advice. And although I violated both of
Continue Reading Exploiting an Abhorrent Act

It’s time for my annual year in review – a look back at those new cases and statutes in family law which improve this area of law and those which, well, not so much.

As usual, there are more of the latter than the former. Sigh.

The biggest disappointment was the failure of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to clarify one of the most common questions in this area of law: What is the difference between a judgment of
Continue Reading Family Law Year in Review: Looking Back at What Happened in 2021

For about the last thirty years, my side job has been to serve as retained counsel, first for BAPR, then for OLR.

When the staff at BAPR/OLR had more litigation than they could handle or there was a case with unusual aspects, I am one of the private attorneys who will be hired to represent the agency. Since the representation was mostly pro bono (the pay is substantially less than my hourly rate), I want to handle no more
Continue Reading Where Have All the Grievances Gone?


Family Law Videos
WI Court Opinions
Legal Publications

By Attorney Gregg HermanOctober 28, 2021

A friend of mine, who was a federal prosecutor, told me once that the problem with special prosecutors being appointed to investigate potential crimes was that they have an incentive to find a reason to issue charges.
A full-time prosecutor reviews numerous cases and makes individual determinations whether or not to prosecute. On the other hand, a special prosecutor is being hired for
Continue Reading Political theater is not law

My late partner, Leonard Loeb, used to say that every lawyer has at least one case which they think is the cause of most of their headaches and lost sleep. The lawyer thinks “as soon as that case is completed, my life will be so much easier.” But, naturally, as soon as that case does wrap up, there is another one with the same effect on the lawyer.

Recently, I had the opportunity to co-present with Attorney Laura Beck
Continue Reading The High Conflict Divorce

One of the expected consequences of the COVID epidemic was disputes between parents regarding parenting children.

These disputes could be over any of these matters:

  • To vaccinate or not to vaccinate
  • To mask or not mask
  • Virtual schooling or in-person
  • The contact of children with unvaccinated people

Not surprisingly, there have been (to my knowledge, at least) no reported cases on any of these issues at the appellate level. This was expected given the length of time it takes
Continue Reading COVID and Custody: Surprising Lack of Litigation Among Parents Over Vaccines, Masks

In a previous column, I commented that one of the few silver linings of the dark, dark cloud called Covid-19 is that it has led to an increased use of technology, such as Zoom, and the resulting avoidance of unnecessary costs.

Well, every silver lining has a cloud. In this case, it’s the loss of certain advantages which arise from looking at someone directly in the eye – and I don’t mean using a screen.

To be sure,
Continue Reading ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM: Sometimes, in-person is better

There is a saying that you cannot be a little bit pregnant. Well, apparently, you can be a little married.

On June 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals in Kemper Independence Insurance Company v. Islami, 2021 WI 53, 397 Wis.2d 394, 959 N.W. 2d 912. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not resolve the issue of most practical importance to divorce practitioners: What is the difference between a divorce and
Continue Reading Being a Little Married: Divorce vs. Legal Separation

Nothing in our legal system is more important than judges.

Cases proceed (or don’t proceed) and resolve largely on the basis of the individual proclivities of the person wearing the robe. A good judge can make a complex, difficult case into a resolvable one and a bad judge can do the opposite. The judge sets the tone for civility and professionalism.

I can go on and on. One need only consider the independence of our judiciary during the challenges
Continue Reading Being Judgey: Why We Should Pick the Best Qualified Candidates for the Bench