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Restraining Orders

A restraining order is a court order that orders someone not to hurt you, to avoid any contact with you, cease harassing you, or require the person to move out of the house.  

In order to get a restraining order, you must file a petition for a temporary restraining order and injunction.  The person seeking protection is called the petitioner and the person you file against is called the respondent.  The Court will decide whether or not to issue a temporary restraining order based on the information that you write in the petition.  If the Court grants the temporary restraining order, a hearing will be scheduled within 14 days.  At that hearing, the Court will decide whether to issue an injunction, which is a final order of protection.  An injunction can be granted for up to 2 years for child abuse and up to 4 years for domestic abuse, harassment, and individuals at risk. 

If a temporary restraining order or injunction is granted, violation of the order is a crime.  If the police believe that the order has been violated, they may arrest the respondent.  However, the respondent must be served with the temporary restraining order or the injunction before the respondent can be found in violation. 

If you would like to find out more information about restraining orders, please contact Greg Babcock at our office for assistance. 

Tags: Family Law Litigation

Divorce in Wisconsin

If you or a loved one is faced with a divorce, it is important to know your legal options.  Divorces can be very emotional and complicated and a lawyer can help you navigate through this process.

Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state.  In other words, the reason for your divorce is largely irrelevant in the Court's eyes.  A court will not penalize you in your divorce because you may have been at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. 

In order to commence your divorce, you need to file a summons and petition for divorce with the Clerk of Court's office in the county where either you or your spouse reside.  After you file the necessary divorce documents with the Clerk of Court's office, you are required to serve the documents upon your spouse.  From the date of filing there is a 120 day minimum waiting period before the Court will grant you with a divorce from your spouse.  Only one spouse is required to state that the marriage is irretrievably broken in order for the Court to grant a divorce.  During the pendency of the divorce proceedings, either spouse can request a temporary order on all issues relating to the divorce including child custody, placement, child support, maintenance, payment of debts, and possession of property. 

At your final hearing in your divorce, the judge will make orders relating to child custody, placement, child support, maintenance, property division, and other relevant matters in your divorce proceeding.  The judge makes orders regarding child custody and placement as it relates to the best interest of the child.  In the event the parties are unable to agree what is in the child's best interest, the court will appoint a Guardian ad litem who will represent the child's best interest and make recommendations to the Court regarding custody and placement of the child.  Generally, child support is calculated based upon placement of the child and the incomes of one or both spouses.  Maintenance is support to one spouse and is awarded in the discretion of the court based upon a number of factors including the length of marriage and earning capacity of each spouse.  Finally, usually the Court will divide property equally between the spouses with the exception of property acquired by either spouse by gift or inheritance. 

This is a general and broad outline of divorces in Wisconsin.  If you would like more information about divorces in Wisconsin, please contact Greg Babcock at our office for your no-cost initial consultation. 

CHANGES IN CHILD ABUSE REPORTING LAWS

The child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University has caused other states to revisit their laws that aim to protect children from abuse.

In Wisconsin, several changes to the mandatory-abuse reporting laws have taken place within the last month in order to provide more protection to children subject to abuse. One of the significant changes is that “school employees” are now mandatory reporters for child abuse. Previously, there were about 29 other occupations who were mandatory reporters including social workers, physicians, nurses, school teachers, administrators, and counselors.

The requirement to report the abuse is mandatory if the person has reasonable cause to suspect the abuse or if the person has reason to believe the child has been threatened with abuse or neglect. There are some exceptions to the mandatory reporting including some exceptions for clergymen and parents. In addition, those who report in good faith as required may not be discharged from employment, or otherwise disciplined or discriminated against with respect to such report.

As a “court appointed special advocate” for a child, lawyers are required to report the suspected child abuse. Penalties for failure to report the abuse is a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment of not more than six months or both. A civil case under tort law is also available for the victim and the family.

This article is just a general overview of the law with regard to child abuse reporting, as this area of the law is complicated and contains many caveats and exceptions. If you have any questions contact Greg Babcock at the Green Bay, Wisconsin law firm Wanezek & Jaekels.  Attorney Greg Babcock practices in the area of family law. Call or email him for a consultation.

Tags: Family Law

PROPOSED BILL COULD CHANGE STANDARDS FOR CUSTODY AND PLACEMENT

In Wisconsin, when a court makes custody and placement determinations for children, the court examines the best interests of the children.  When examining the best interests of the children, the court considers numerous statutory factors.  In addition, when allocating periods of physical placement with the parents, the court must try to maximize the amount of time the children may spend with each parent, taking into consideration geographic seperation and accomodations for different households. 

A proposed bill may change the manner in which Wisconsin courts reach decisions regarding legal custody and physical placement.  This bill is 2011 AB 54.  If this bill passes, courts would be required to presume that a placement schedule that equalizes to the highest degree the amount of time the child may spend with each parent is in the child’s best interest.  This presumption could only be overcome if the court found, by clear and convincing evidence, after consideration of the statutory factors, that equalizing physical placement would not be in the children’s best interest. 

 

This proposed bill has caused significant controversy between proponents and opponenets.  Proponents of the bill believe that it will provide both parents with equal footing at the start of a court’s determination of custody and placement.  Opponents of the bill think the bill places the interests of the parents before the children while creating a situation in which parents who are not capable of taking care of their children are given equal shared placement. 

If this bill is passed into law in Wisconsin, it could significantly alter the landscape for how courts decide custody and placement cases.  Our office routinely assists clients who are seeking custody and placement of their children.  Call or email Greg for a consultation. 

Tags: Family Law

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT DECISION CLARIFIES REQUIRMENTS IN A TERMINATION OF PARENTAL R

In a termination of parental rights proceeding, there are two seperate and distinct phases. The first phase is the grounds phase, at which time the circuit court determines whether grounds exist to terminate a parent’s rights. An example of a sufficient ground for termination of a parent’s rights is abandonment. If grounds are found to exisit and a parent is determined to be unfit, the court will move to the second phase called the dispositional hearing at which time the court will determine if it is in the best interests of the child(ren) to terminate a parent’s rights.

 

A Brown County circuit court was recently appealed by a parent following her no contest plea at the grounds phase because she claimed the circuit court was required to inform her that she was giving up her constitutional right to parent as a result of her no contest plea. The Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed with the parent because the immediate consequnce of a plea of no contest at the grounds phase is that the parent will be found to be unfit. A finding that a parent is unfit does not automatically result in parental termination because there is a dispositional hearing that will follow at which time it will be determine whether it is in the best interests of the child(ren) to terminate a parent’s rights. While the Wisconsin Supreme Court did agree that a parent must be informed about the rights that could be lost in the event of termination, the court is not required to explain that a right to parent derives from the constitution.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the decision of the circuit court and found that the parent had knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered into a plea of no contest to the grounds for the termination of her parental rights. Our firm routinely helps parents with the termination of their parental rights as well as the adoption of the children following the termination.

Tags: Family Law

COURT CAN INCLUDE ALL SOURCES OF INCOME WHEN CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT

When calculating child support, the Court will examine the gross income of the parties and the placement schedule with the children. Most often the only income source of the parties are their wages received from their employers. That doesn’t mean that a Court cannot consider other sources of income when calculating child support, like lottery winnings or personal injury settlements.

A case which illustrates this point is In re Marriage of Lyman v. Lyman.  After the parties had divorced, the husband received a multi-million dollar settlement from a wrongful termination of employment lawsuit.  The wife asked that the Court include the settlement amount received by husband for purposes of calculating child support.  The husband argued that the settlement was not income and not subject to child support.  The trial court found that the entire settlement amount was considered income for child support purposes and awarded the wife a substantial sum of money. 

The husband appealed the award of the trial court and the Court of Appeals noted that all income is presumed to be available to meet a parent’s obligation to support his or her child.  Child support payments are designed to maintain the children’s standard of living at the economic level they would have enjoyed had there been no divorce.  The husband’s claim that the settlement should not be included in his gross income was rejected by the Court of Appeals. 

If you have any family law related issues that you need assistance with, contact our office and ask for Greg. 

Tags: Family Law

INDIVIDUALS AT RISK

In 2006, the Wisconsin legislature made changes in Wisconsin law to address abuse against elderly people and younger vulnerable adults. The focus has been on broadening the scope of the Individual-at-Risk restraining order statute, which would make it easier for a person to obtain such a restraining order.

There are many types of abuse against elderly and young vulnerable adults including physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, emotional abuse, and psychological abuse. Abusers can be anyone including a spouse, parent, adult child, relative, primary caregiver, or a friend.

 In the past, the statute that allowed for restraining orders for individuals-at-risk was not effective in meeting the unique needs of those people who were at risk. The statute provided for a narrow definition of a vulnerable adult, required a specific relationship between the victim and abuser, was limited in scope as to the abusive behaviors that could be restrained, provided restrictions on who could petition for a restraining order, and the remedies available were not extensive.

The changes in the law have broadened the scope of those areas which had been the most restrictive. The definition of “vulnerable adult” has been expanded, the requirement of having a specific relationship between abuser and victim has been removed, the number of abusive behaviors have been increased, any person is now allowed to petition for a restraining order, and the remedies have expanded with the development of a true “no contact” order. For example, the type of abuse that a person can now seek protection for includes financial exploitation and emotional abuse. In addition, friends, relatives, and others can petition on behalf of the vulnerable adult, when it used to be that the vulnerable adult was only allowed to bring the petition.

The changes in the law have worked out for the best because a high percentage of the cases involving individuals-at-risk have involved relatives who file on behalf of the individual-at-risk. In addition, since 2006, two of the most common types of abuses alleged have been financial exploitation and emotional abuse.

If you or a loved one is an individual-at-risk, you should make sure to take advantage of the protections afforded to those individuals under Wisconsin law.

Tags: Family Law

FAMILY LAW PRACTICE OVERVIEW

We offer compassionate and caring legal representation for those people encountering legal issues relating to their families. We understand the stress and uncertainty you may have when you are ready to involve a lawyer with some of your most private family matters. At Wanezek & Jaekels, we strive to make you feel as comfortable as possible during that process to make a difficult time in your life run as smooth as possible.

At Wanezek & Jaekels, Attorney Greg J. Babcock has extensive experience handling various family law cases. Every family law issue that you may be facing, Attorney Babcock can assist you and provide you with excellent representation. Attorney Babcock handles a variety of family law issues including:

  • Divorce
  • Post Judgment Modifications
  • Child Custody / Visitation Rights
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support/Maintenance
  • Property Division
  • Paternity
  • Marital Property Agreements
  • Termination of Parental Rights and Adoptions
  • Harassment Restraining Orders and Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders
  • Foster Parents’ Rights
  • Juvenile Rights

Attorney Babcock also serves as a Guardian ad litem in family cases. As a Guardian ad litem, Attorney Babcock will represent the best interests of children in various proceedings. In that capacity, Attorney Babcock has gained invaluable experience and knowledge when it relates to the children’s interests and needs which has allowed him provide even better representation for our clients.

If you are looking for any attorney to help you and provide you with guidance you need, contact us and ask for Attorney Babcock.

Tags: Family Law

Obtain Legal Help You Can Rely On

To get in touch with one of our attorneys about your case, call our firm at (920) 437-8191 or fill out the form below.