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Child support is generally ordered pursuant to the guidelines provided for in the governing statutes. Courts may deviate from these guidelines if it finds that the guidelines amount would be unfair. The court makes the fairness determination after evaluating the fifteen fairness factors. It is important for litigants to be prepared ahead of any request for deviation because the burden is on the requesting party to show that deviation is appropriate. Litigants often believe that child support is
Continue Reading Child Support: Deviating from Guidelines?

In Wisconsin, your child has the right to deny you placement or visitation with your grandchild absent a court order requiring visitation or placement. You, as the grandparent, have the right to petition the state courts for relief. When determining whether placement or visitation is appropriate, a court will look at whether the grandparent will act in accordance with the parent’s wishes and if placement or visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild. Grandparents have a
Continue Reading Grandparent Rights: My Child and I Had a Falling Out and They Have Prevented Me from Contacting My Grandchild

The Wisconsin Administrative Code pertaining to child support guidelines was updated effective January 1, 2024. The code chapter, specifically Department of Child and Families Chapter 150 (DCF 150), was updated to clarify when and how equivalent care should be applied when calculating child support. Child support is the obligation to support a child financially. Support is calculated by reviewing the payor’s gross income and comparing it to the amount of overnight placement that person has with the child.

Continue Reading Equivalent Care Credit in Wisconsin

Unfortunately, there are times when one party withholds placement of a child. There a can be many reasons or motivations for a party to withhold placement from the other parent. Regardless of the reason, the party who has had their placement denied, withheld or interfered with may file a motion with the court to have the placement order enforced. As in most cases when a motion is filed, the moving party must allege facts to show that their placement
Continue Reading Enforcing Physical Placement Orders

A temporary order in a divorce proceeding is especially helpful when there are contested issues. Think of a temporary order as the “rules of the game” during a divorce proceeding. Aside from limited situations, the soonest a divorce judgment may be granted is 120 days after service or filing a joint petition. A lot can happen in that time and without any provisions or orders in place either or both parties may find themselves in at a disadvantage. A
Continue Reading Temporary Orders in Divorce Proceedings

In pending divorce proceedings, it is common for the parties to reach at least a partial agreement regarding physical placement, legal custody, child support, property division or maintenance while other matters remain unresolved. In that case, even though the parties prepare, sign and file that written agreement with the court, Wis. stat. 767.333 requires that the circuit court hold a hearing to review the agreement with the parties. At that hearing the court will ensure that the written agreement
Continue Reading Initial Orders on Stipulations in Family Proceedings

You might hear of people who are legally separated and wonder how that is different from simply being divorced. In Wisconsin, legal separations and divorces share a similar legal process, but the end result is differently. For example, in both cases the parties have to file petitions with the court. The court cannot enter a judgment in either case until 120 days have passed since the joint petition was filed or the non-filing party was served.

In Wisconsin, the
Continue Reading Legal Separation versus Divorce

A proceeding to terminate the parental rights (TPR) of one or both parents is initiated by preparing and filing a petition, summons and a notice. The petition is the document that identifies the people involved, including the child, and the grounds to terminate the right of one or both of the parents. Think of “grounds” as the reason for filing the petition. The summons and notice are the documents in which the parents and other parties are notified of
Continue Reading Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDROs) is a court order that divides an individual’s retirement plans between themselves and their former spouse. The order is presented to the plan administrator and instructs how the plan should be divided between the member and the member’s spouse, often referred to a “alternate payee”. The QDRO is required by the plan administrator in order for it to deviate from the requirement that the member receive benefits from their retirement plan and instead
Continue Reading Qualified Domestic Relation Orders in divorces. What are they and why they matter

In an action for divorce and any other family action, the parties are required to submit a full financial disclosure. The court is actually required by law to order the parties involved to file the disclosure. This disclosure includes all assets owned separately or jointly between the parties in a divorce. The statute defines “assets” as real estate, savings accounts, stocks and bonds, mortgages and notes, life insurance, retirement interests, interest in a partnership, limited liability company, or corporation,
Continue Reading Financial Disclosures to the Court

When a Court enters a final judgment for legal custody and physical placement it can be very difficult to modify it within the first two years of the order. There is a preference to maintain consistency for the children and the family during that time. There is also a presumption that what the court ordered is in the child’s best interest so there is a high burden to show that it should be changed. There are two standards that
Continue Reading Modifying Custody and Physical Placement Orders

When the court makes an order on custody and placement, all of its consideration must be related to the best interest of the child. The court is prohibited from preferring one parent over the other on the basis of sex or gender. Separate from limited circumstances the court must consider several factors when determining the appropriate custody and placement arrangement. Wisconsin statute section 767.41(5) lists the factors for the court to consider and those factors are listed below:

Continue Reading Factors to Consider when Ordering Custody and Placement

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

You went out last night to have a few drinks and an out of control patron assaulted you causing you to incur thousands of dollars in medical bills—who is liable for your injuries?

Of course, the individual who assaulted you is likely a target for any lawsuit. However the perpetrator may be judgment proof and the bar may be the only entity you can recover from.

While bars in Wisconsin enjoy broad immunity from liability for overserving patrons
Continue Reading Bar Fights and Third-Party Liability

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?

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