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Experienced Milwaukee Family Law Attorneys

Milwaukee Family Lawyer Helping You Fight for Your Rights During a Divorce

When you are going through a family law proceeding in Wisconsin, a court may make decisions that can affect the rest of your life. When so much is at stake, you cannot afford to take chances by trying to navigate the process alone. No matter your situation, you should seek counsel from an experienced and aggressive attorney who understands the law and procedures and who will make sure that your voice is heard. At Reddin & Singer, family law attorney Terese J. Singer advises and vigorously represents clients on all matters related to divorce and custody. Our firm also can assist you with criminal matters in Wisconsin courts, such as DUI and drug charges.

Divorce

Wisconsin mandates a no-fault divorce on the basis of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Either spouse must have been a bona fide resident of the state for a minimum of six months. A key issue that is likely to arise during a divorce is property distribution, which determines which spouse receives which assets from the marriage. Wisconsin is a marital property state, so each spouse is entitled to an equal share of the marital estate. It may be necessary to determine whether a piece of property is part of the marital estate or separate property. Only the marital estate will be divided, while generally each spouse keeps their own separate property.

Legal Separation

In Wisconsin, a married couple may obtain a legal separation instead of a divorce, and sometimes a separation will be converted into a divorce. A court can issue orders in connection with a number of issues during a legal separation, including the division of property, child custody, support, and visitation. In this way, the process is similar to divorce. Also, one of the spouses trying to get a legal separation must be a Wisconsin resident for six months before filing for the separation and a resident of the county where they are petitioning for the separation for at least 30 days before filing. Certain grounds must be alleged for the separation.

Experienced Milwaukee Criminal Law Attorneys Child Support

In Wisconsin, children are entitled to support from both parents. Child support guidelines are used to set the amount of payments in what is called the Percentage of Income Standard. Some of the factors considered include income, how much time is spent with each parent, and whether other children are also receiving financial support. In Wisconsin, child support is based on gross monthly income or the amount that a parent receives, which is the income before taxes, Social Security, and other amounts are deducted each month.

Legal Custody & Placement

Legal custody and placement of a child can be very fraught issues. When parents divorce, the court will make orders about these matters. Placement involves the time that a child spends with each parent, while legal custody is made up of a parent's right to make major decisions for a child in areas such as medical care, education, and religion. Wisconsin courts are guided by the child's best interests when deciding custody and placement matters. Often, parents are able to reach their own agreement as to custody and placement with the help of an experienced family attorney in the Milwaukee area. The court likely will approve the agreement if it finds that it is consistent with the child’s best interests.

Same-Sex Divorce & Child Support

Same-sex divorce can bring up unique issues, such as from which date the start of the marriage should be calculated for the purposes of marital property division and parental rights. In Wisconsin, when a parent has placement of a child for more than 50% of the time, the other parent is usually required to pay child support based on percentage guidelines. However, same-sex couples were unable to adopt in Wisconsin before 2014, so many children were adopted by a single parent. Thus, one parent may be better situated than the other with regard to issues like child support and child custody. It is important to retain an experienced Milwaukee family lawyer who understands the complexities of the issues at play, and who can make strong arguments for an appropriate and fair outcome.

Modification of Support & Custody

When a modification would substantially reduce the time that one parent has with a child, courts usually refrain from modifying legal custody or placement within the first two years of the order. There are exceptions when there is a risk of harm or when the parents share substantially equal time with a child, but one is unable to fulfill those responsibilities, and it would be in the best interests of the child to modify the order. After two years have passed, a parent or guardian can seek a modification of custody or placement by petitioning for a modification and showing that the modification is in the child's best interests and that the parent has had a substantial change in circumstances.

High Asset Divorce

In some marriages, there are assets that are substantial in value, such as vacation homes, bank accounts, trusts, pensions, stocks, annuities, retirement benefits, businesses that may or may not have goodwill, and heirlooms. High asset divorces can be more complicated, particularly when spouses try to hide assets from each other or improperly value important assets. A Milwaukee family attorney can help you hire forensic accountants, tax advisers, or financial planning experts to ensure that property is appropriately traced and characterized and that an appropriate division is reached based on relevant factors.

Premarital & Post-Marital Agreements

Premarital agreements are contracts related to such issues as property division and finances that are formed before a couple marries. Post-marital agreements are contracts formed after a couple marries. Some factors that the court will consider when deciding whether to enforce a premarital agreement include whether the parties knowingly and voluntarily entered into the agreement, whether complete financial disclosures were made, whether both parties had legal representation, and whether there has been any substantial, unforeseeable change in circumstances that affects the fairness of the agreement at the time of the divorce. There are many potential grounds for challenging a premarital or post-marital agreement.

Grandparent Rights

Under Wisconsin Statute 767.43, grandparents may petition the court to get visitation with grandchildren. The court can grant reasonable visitation to a grandparent if visitation is in the child's best interests, but it is supposed to give significant deference to a parent’s right to decide what is in their child's best interests, and the child's wishes are also considered. Generally, grandparents can assert their rights during or after legal actions that affect the whole family, such as divorce or custody modification.

Annulment

There are certain situations in which it may be appropriate to seek an annulment rather than a separation or a divorce. A family attorney at our Milwaukee firm can advise you on whether this option may be right for you. An annulment is different from a divorce in that it invalidates a marriage as if it did not happen at all. Grounds for annulment include an underage spouse, force or duress, a lasting form of mental incapacity, or a temporary impairment like intoxication. A spouse also may be able to obtain an annulment if the marriage involved fraud, bigamy, incest, or impotence.

Temporary Orders

A divorce can take months. It can be important to obtain temporary orders to address such issues as alimony, custody of children, child support, property issues, debts, and health insurance coverage for children. Generally, temporary orders can be obtained at any time before the divorce trial. The court will consider the same factors when making temporary orders that it considers when making final orders. Sometimes the terms of the temporary order are kept for the purposes of a final order, particularly when children are involved, so it is important to retain a skilled family lawyer in the Milwaukee area who can represent your interests.

Domestic Violence

In Wisconsin, domestic violence occurs under Wisconsin State Statute section 968.075 when there is or has been a household, spousal, or co-parenting relationship. It involves the intentional infliction of physical pain, illness, or injury, the intentional impairment of the victim’s physical condition, sexual assault, or physical actions that cause a reasonable fear that any of these acts is imminent. Domestic violence also can affect child custody and other family law proceedings.

Restraining Orders

A restraining order is a legal order issued by a court that requires one person to stop harming another person. The order may be sought due to harassment, domestic abuse, or child abuse, among other situations. The existence of a restraining order can significantly influence certain issues, such as how child custody and property division are handled during a divorce. A family attorney at our Milwaukee firm can help Wisconsin residents pursue or fight against restraining orders.

DUI

Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol can be charged if you are caught while driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater. There is an implied consent law that states that when you drive in Wisconsin, you have given consent to submit to a chemical test. If you are convicted of a first offense, you may face a fine, a surcharge, a suspension of your license, and mandatory alcohol and other drug assessments. You may be found to be a high-risk driver, which means that you would have increased insurance rates. Certain situations can increase the penalties, such as having a minor who is under the age of 16 in the car at the time of the drunk driving. Further DUI offenses carry additional penalties, such as possible jail time and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Drug Offenses

Wisconsin criminalizes the possession, cultivation, sale, manufacture, and trafficking of controlled substances. If you have been caught with an illegal substance on your person (such as in a pocket) or within your control (such as in your car or home), you may be charged with possession. Drug charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on which controlled substance is at issue, the amount, which action was involved, and any prior history of drug crimes.

Consult an Experienced Family Attorney in Milwaukee

Attorney Terese J. Singer was born and raised in the Milwaukee area. She is committed to providing a compassionate yet aggressive approach when representing parents fighting for their children’s best interests in a custody battle or spouses trying to protect their finances during a divorce. Our firm represents people in Port Washington, Mequon, Racine, West Bend, Waukesha, and other communities in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington, and Waukesha Counties. Contact us at (414) 271-6400 or via our online form to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

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