A married person in Wisconsin can file for a divorce from their spouse as long as that person had been a resident of the State Wisconsin for at least 6 months prior to the filing for divorce.
In Wisconsin, you do not need a reason for why you want the divorce from your spouse and your spouse can not prevent the divorce from happening if the spouse does not want the divorce. In addition, Wisconsin is a no fault divorce state where the Court can not penalize the person who might be more at fault for the divorce.
In Wisconsin, there are four main legal issues that the Court is required to decide when you get divorced. These issues include custody/placement of the child(ren), child support, maintenance, and property division. These issues can be very complicated and the assistance of an attorney is recommended to guide you through the process.
CHILD CUSTODY & PLACEMENT
First, custody and physical placement of the child(ren) are issues to be decided by the Court only if you have a minor child or that child is still in high school. Custody means the right to make major legal decisions for a child including medical, school, and religious decisions. The court may order joint legal custody between the parents or sole legal custody to one parent. Physical placement of the child means which parent the child physically resides with. A court may order primary, shared, or some other physical placement arrangement between the parents. If the parents are unable to agree on custody or placement of a child, a Guardian ad litem will be appointed to represent your child’s best interest.
Second, the Court must determine child support that a parent is required to pay to the other parent. Child support is typically based upon a formula which is calculated using one or both of a parent’s income and considering the percentage of placement that each parent has.
Third, the Court may order that one parent make a maintenance payment to the other which depends upon a number of different factors including the length of marriage and the ability of the other parent to become self supporting. Maintenance is essentially a payment from one spouse to the other to offset or equalize incomes. If the length of the marriage is short and/or the spouses have similar incomes, the Court may not order maintenance to be paid by either spouse. Many factors are considered when determining whether or not maintenance might be appropriate.
Finally, property division is the last major issue that the Court must decide. Wisconsin is a marital property state whereby all property, even if acquired before the marriage, is presumed to be divided equally between the spouses at divorce. This would include all debt of the spouses. The exception to this rule is any property that was acquired by one spouse by gift or inheritance and that property maintained it’s separate character and identity. The issues that arise with regard to the division of property can become very complicated including who receives certain marital assets and the valuation of those marital assets.
These are not all of the issues that are required to be determined by a court when a married couple decides to divorce but they are the major issues. It is important to speak with attorney about your legal rights if you are contemplating or in the process of getting a divorce. Please contact Green Bay family law attorney Greg Babcock of our office to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your options.
For your divorce law, other family law, and related legal issues, call the law office of Wanezek, Jaekels, Daul & Babcock, S.C. today: 1-920-437-8191.
Many people own term life insurance policies which, like all policies, contain exclusions. Exclusions provide that under certain circumstances benefits are not payable. Often times there is confusion as to whether a certain fact situation involving a death would qualify as a “exclusion.” Insurance companies typically are quite quick to assert the benefit of an “exclusion.” However, often times there is room to argue that the exclusion would not apply and that the benefit should be payable. A circumstance, for instance, might be that a group life insurance policy (a policy provided through work) provides that an employee will not receive benefits if the death involves the employee driving while intoxicated. Such policies often require specific blood test types and blood test results. However, often, it is the case that not only the type of test that is existent and the result of that test do not clearly “exclude benefits.” Another common dispute in life insurance policies is who the beneficiary is. Often time’s beneficiary forms are filled out improperly or in a way that is unclear as to naming the beneficiary. If similar circumstances exist, please contact David at to discuss your case in greater detail. The attorneys at Green Bay, Wisconsin’s Wanezek & Jaekels law firm can help you today!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Post Judgment Modifications
- Child Custody / Visitation Rights
- Child Support
- Spousal Support/Maintenance
- Property Division
- 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.