Areas in Family Law
Family law encompasses a number of different areas. The main practice areas in family law are as follows:
- Child custody, including legal custody and physical placement
- Child support
- Maintenance, also referred to as alimony
- Property division
- Post-divorce modifications
If you have a dispute in any of the above areas, you need legal advice. A Wauwatosa family law attorney can provide it.
What Will a Wauwatosa Family Law Attorney Do for You?
According to the State Bar of Wisconsin, good family lawyers do not try to push their clients into engaging in a long and bitter courtroom battle. When two people litigate a matter in court, particularly those as sensitive as family disputes, it can greatly damage the parties involved and build resentment that can last for years.
Contrary to this, the best way to resolve family disputes is through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution such as mediation. Either of these options can result in an agreed-upon settlement reached by both parties. It is important to remember that there really is no ‘winning’ during a family dispute. Although you can and should obtain a fair settlement or reach an agreement, the likelihood is that both parties will end up losing something.
The Basics of Divorce in Wauwatosa
As throughout the rest of Wisconsin, all divorces in Wauwatosa are filed on no-fault grounds. This means the spouse filing for divorce must only state that there has been a breakdown in the marital relationship and there is no chance of reconciliation. A family law judge though, must be convinced that there is no hope of the couple reconciling their differences. If a judge is not convinced of this, the judge can order a future hearing or suggest that the parties attend marriage counseling.
Wisconsin, like the majority of states, recognizes two types of custody. The first is legal custody, which is the authority to make major decisions for the child. These decisions can include the healthcare the child receives, the religion they are raised in, and the school they attend. The second type is physical placement, which refers to the parent that spends time with the child. In the majority of cases, family law judges strive to divide both types of custody as equally as possible among both parents.
The parent who is physically with a child can make decisions when they are caring for the children. However, those decisions must be in line with the decisions made by the person who has legal custody.
Child support refers to the payments made by one parent to the other. All parents in Wauwatosa are expected to financially support their child until they are at least no longer considered a minor. Calculating child support in Wisconsin is a complex matter. The amount paid will depend on the number of children, the income the paying parent earns, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. A Wauwatosa family law attorney can review the facts of your case and determine how much support you are entitled to, or how much you may have to pay.
Once called alimony in the state, maintenance refers to the payments made by one spouse to another after divorce. The family courts will take a number of factors into consideration when determining if maintenance should be awarded. These include:
- The length of the marriage
- The age of each spouse
- The health of each spouse
- Assets and liabilities obtained in property division matters
- The education of each spouse
- The standard of living enjoyed by each spouse during the marriage
- The likelihood that a party could support themselves
- Any agreements between the spouses
- The contributions each spouse made to the family or the marriage
- Any other amount a family law judge considers relevant
A judge may award maintenance for a certain amount of time, or they may order it indefinitely.
During a divorce, property must be divided between the two parties. Wisconsin is one of the few states that is considered a community property state. This means that both marital assets and liabilities are divided equally between the two parties. Judges will not consider which person earned the most income, or bought the most property. When parties are getting an uncontested divorce, they can try to reach an agreement about the distribution of marital assets and liabilities.
Premarital and Postnuptial Agreements
No one wants to go into a marriage thinking that it may end in divorce. Unfortunately, marriages do come to an end. When they do, a premarital agreement can help the matter proceed quickly and smoothly.
A premarital agreement can outline certain terms, such as how property will be divided and whether one party will pay alimony. Premarital agreements cannot address child support issues, as the support is that of the child’s, not the recipient parent. Child custody also cannot be determined through a premarital agreement. Premarital agreements are only considered enforceable if they are in writing, signed willingly by both parties, and there must be an upcoming marriage.
Couples who marry without a premarital agreement may decide to draft a postnuptial agreement after they wed. This sometimes happens because circumstances change, such as one spouse starting their own successful business. Postnuptial agreements are enforced in the same manner as premarital agreements. The only difference is that the couple is already married.