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waukesha spousal maintenance lawyerA divorce can lead to a variety of financial difficulties for both parties. While spouses will need to make adjustments to ensure that they will be able to support themselves individually instead of using a combined income, there are some situations where one party may be at a financial disadvantage. If one spouse earns a lower income, or if they are a stay-at-home parent who does not work outside the home, spousal maintenance may be appropriate. In these situations, a spouse may ask for ongoing support payments from their former partner. By understanding how Wisconsin law addresses this issue, divorcing spouses can understand their rights and determine how they can protect their financial interests.

Understanding Issues Related to Spousal Support

When it comes to spousal maintenance, Wisconsin’s divorce laws are fairly broad. Judges have a great deal of leeway to determine when this form of support will be appropriate, how much will be paid, and how long payments will last. The law lists a number of factors that should be considered by a judge when they look at whether to award spousal maintenance, and these include the age and health of both parties, how their financial situations will be affected by the division of marital property, and whether they have made any agreements about this issue, such as a prenuptial agreement.

Some of the most important issues that a judge may consider involve the earning capacity of the spouse who is asking for maintenance. The judge will look at the spouse’s education, job training, and employment skills, while also considering whether they have been out of the job market for a significant period of time, whether the decisions made about child custody and placement have given them responsibilities that will affect their ability to work, and whether they have the means to pursue education or training that will allow them to find employment. The judge may also consider whether either spouse has contributed to the other spouse’s education or training in a way that has increased that spouse’s earning capacity.

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wisconsin child custody lawyerThere are many different legal issues that will need to be addressed during a divorce, and for parents, child custody is likely to be one of the most important of these issues. When a couple’s relationship has broken down, and they no longer wish to remain married, it is understandable if either or both spouses are concerned about their ability to work together to raise their children. While parents will often do their best to set aside their differences and make sure that they will each play an important role in raising their children, there are some cases where a parent may believe that it would be best for one parent to have sole custody of their children. In these situations, parents in Wisconsin will need to understand how the state’s laws address sole and joint child custody.

Sole Custody and Physical Placement Under Wisconsin Law

There are two aspects of child custody addressed in Wisconsin’s divorce laws. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right and responsibility to make decisions about major issues in a child’s life. Physical placement refers to when a child will be in the physical control of a parent, during which the parent will have the right and responsibility to make routine decisions about the child’s care.

In most cases, Wisconsin law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests for parents to share joint legal custody. The only exception to this presumption is in cases involving domestic abuse. This means that most of the time, parents will be able to share in the rights and responsibilities of making decisions about how their child will be raised. However, sole custody may be granted to one parent in certain situations if a judge determines that doing so would be in the child’s best interests. These situations may include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1220724925-min.jpgSeveral years ago, a California woman made national news when she was able to collect $150,000 in back child support almost 50 years after her ex-husband fled the country in order to avoid paying his court-ordered obligation. Since there is no statute of limitations on back child support, the case sent a message to deadbeat parents everywhere that eventually, the delinquency can catch up to them. If you are having trouble collecting child support, a Waukesha County family lawyer can help.

Time to Pay Up

According to the woman in the California case, when the couple broke up in the early 1970s, her ex-husband fled to Canada in order to get out of paying child support for their then 3-year-old daughter. He had been ordered to pay $160 a month until the child reached 21. The woman raised their daughter on her own, never receiving any financial help from the child’s father.

Fifty years later, the woman decided it was time to see if she could track down the father. She discovered he was back in the U.S. and living in Oregon. She took the original support order and headed to an attorney’s office. Decades ago, the amount owed to the woman totaled approximately $35,000, but with 10 percent accrued interest, the amount owed to her was close to $170,000. The woman’s attorney was able to negotiate a settlement for $150,000, which the court approved, and the woman finally received her long-overdue child support.

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Waukesha family law attorneysFrom the physical and mental health of both parents to the wishes of the children, family law judges look at a number of factors before making custody and visitation decisions. They may also consider a parent’s use of drugs or alcohol because frequent use of these substances can impact a parent’s ability to take care of a child. If you are trying to gain custody of your children, but have a history of substance abuse, you should enlist the help of a Wisconsin family lawyer.

How a Judge May Respond to Parental Substance Abuse

Judges do not take alcohol or drug abuse in custody battles lightly. Parents who abuse these substances often neglect to give their children what they need. They may also put their kids’ lives in danger. For example, if a parent is heavily drunk and forgets to turn off the stovetop, it can increase the risk of a fire in the house. Judges want to prevent these sorts of incidents from occurring, so they are weary about awarding custody to parents with substance abuse issues.

If a judge hears an allegation that a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol, he or she will fully investigate that claim. A judge will typically have the accused parent take a drug test. If illegal drugs are found in the parent’s system, the court may award custody to the other parent.

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Waukesha County family lawyerA Wisconsin divorce becomes even more stressful when there are children involved, especially if you and your spouse strongly disagree about what is best for them. The idea of losing custody of your children is devastating to even think about. Although navigating through a custody battle may not always be easy, you can take steps to increase your chances of a positive outcome.

Tips For Securing Custody of Your Children

In order to achieve the best possible result in your custody case, you must prove to the court that you are responsible and a good role model to your kids. Here are a few tips to help you maintain custody.

  • Make your children a top priority. Wisconsin courts prioritize a child’s best interests when making custody decisions. You should do everything you can to demonstrate your commitment as a parent. Always arrive on time for visits and be there to support your children.

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