Wisconsin Signs New Law to Protect Family and Divorce Lawyers
It comes as no surprise to say that divorce and family issues can be very stressful and emotional for any individual. Divorce can completely change an individual’s life, put their finances in peril, and leave them questioning where they are going to live. Dividing up things and time with kids can take parents away from the things they most value. All of this can create an environment in which tensions are high and family members are prone to saying and doing things they might not otherwise. Relationships can become further eroded when loved ones lash out in the midst of stress and confusion.
Wisconsin family law attorneys are often inadvertently swept up in these emotions and passions because they represent family members, advocate for their best interests, and, often, have to advocate against the interests of others. Whether petitioning for sole custody or trying to force a spouse to hand over the keys to the house, family law attorneys can quickly become the “bad guys” who are ruining another individual’s life in the process.
Each family law attorney endeavors to represent their clients in the most effective and compassionate way possible, and to minimize lingering damage to relationships or to children. It is never the intention to bring harm to any other party, but the reality is that a divorce is rarely easy, and one side will often feel like they have lost.
In recent years, the climate of frustration and anxiety that has been felt across much of the country has extended into the area of family law, and threats against family law attorneys have become more commonplace. On March 22, 2017, family law attorney Sara Quirt Sann was a victim of violence and tensions between family relations. She was shot and killed during a shooting rampage that was a result of domestic tensions and anger arising out of a family law case.
Earlier this month, on April 11, 2018, Governor Scott Walker signed into law “Sara’s Law.” Sara’s law provides additional protections for family law attorneys and stiffer penalties for people who would threaten them with harm. Prior to the signing of Sara’s Law, Wisconsin had specific provisions to criminalize threats of harm against judges, law enforcement officers, district attorneys, and court officers, but it did not provide any special protections for family law attorneys.
Sara’s Law changes this by making it a felony to threaten to harm or to harm family law attorneys or guardians ad litem. If found guilty, a defendant could face up to six years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Convicted felons also face restricted rights and cannot do things such as own guns. Sara’s Law is the first of its kind in the country, and Wisconsin may take the lead in setting new precedent for the protection of family law attorneys. It remains to be seen whether other states will pass similar laws.
With this law, family law attorneys will now have an avenue to assist themselves and their clients when an opposing party or disgruntled family member makes threats against them. They can now report these threats for criminal prosecution, helping to keep their profession safer and to minimize the possibility that these individuals will also take harmful actions against their clients.
At Reddin & Singer, LLP, our family law attorney represents clients in all aspects of a divorce, and we have handled proceedings that are both amicable and respectful, and highly adversarial. We understand the unique challenges and strong emotions that often accompany family law proceedings, and we constantly work to minimize the trauma and difficulties that clients experience when going through the process. We know that divorce is difficult already, and we are here to minimize the stress of the actual legal proceedings. To speak with a knowledgeable divorce attorney today, do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Reddin & Singer, LLP online or give us a call at 414-271-6400.