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Waukesha County family law attorneyWisconsin law recognizes the importance of both parents’ involvement in a child’s life whenever possible. Terminating parental rights is taken seriously and only done in extreme circumstances. Sometimes parental rights are terminated because a judge is convinced that a parent cannot safely remain in their child’s life; other times, a parent willingly gives up their parental rights. Regardless of whether you feel your parental rights are threatened or you believe your child’s other parent should lose their parental rights, a child custody attorney can help you navigate the emotional and procedural complexities of terminating parental rights in Wisconsin. 

Involuntary Termination

Involuntary termination of parental rights usually happens when one parent has serious concerns about the other parent’s fitness. Wisconsin law allows termination of parental rights in several circumstances, including but not limited to: 

  • Abandonment - If a parent leaves a child with another person and does not communicate with the child for six months or more; or, when a court places a child in foster care or with another party and the parent does not communicate with the child for three months or more, it constitutes abandonment
  • Relinquishment - A parent who gives up a child before the child is three days old may permanently lose their parental rights 
  • Child abuse - Physical, mental, or emotional child abuse can be grounds for termination of parental rights 
  • Parental disability - If a parent suffers from serious mental illness or substance abuse issues, it may be unsafe for them to be in the presence of their child; if the disability presents a long-standing, ongoing issue, a parent may lose parental rights permanently

Voluntary Termination

There are some parents, especially fathers who did not plan on having a child and are not  interested in having one, who hope to have their parental rights voluntarily terminated. But Wisconsin does not often grant voluntary terminations; a child with financial support from only one parent is more likely to become dependent on state assistance and termination would allow parents to shirk their responsibilities at the expense of the rest of society. 

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Waukesha County child support lawyerAs gender roles continue becoming more egalitarian and women are now often the primary breadwinner in a family, child support laws have changed to reflect the fact that many families often no longer have the traditional structure of a stay-at-home mother and working father. Rather than giving a mother full custody after a divorce and requiring only the father to pay child support, Wisconsin law now expects both parents to financially support their children and be actively involved in raising them unless there is a good reason to do otherwise. If you are getting divorced and want to learn more about child support laws in Wisconsin, read on. 

Primary Placement Requires Higher Payments 

Wisconsin follows the Shared Placement formula to determine child support payments. Payments are based on how many children are involved and how much time each parent spends with the children. If one parent has custody more than 75 percent of the time, he or she is considered to be the residential parent and has primary placement. While both parents are responsible for financially providing for their children, the parent with primary placement will necessarily receive larger child support payments as he or she has the children with them most of the time. But even when spouses share placement 50/50, one spouse usually pays the other child support. 

Payments Are Calculated According to a Parent’s Gross Income

Child support payments are calculated using a parent’s gross income, including any wages, tips, bonuses, commissions, etc. before taxes are deducted. Child support is also not tax-deductible for the paying parent, and the receiving parent does not have to pay taxes on the payments. Understanding your gross income, net income, tax deductions, and other financial issues is important when negotiating a divorce agreement. For example, the parent paying child support may want to negotiate more assertively for the right to claim the children as dependents on his or her taxes. 

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Waukesha County child custody lawyerFew changes have the potential to affect a man like becoming a father for the first time. If you have recently discovered that you are or will be a father, congratulations - now is the time to start thinking about establishing a legal relationship with your child so you can ensure you have the best chance of developing a lifetime of love and support. Wisconsin law recognizes the importance of fathers in the development of a minor child’s health and well-being and encourages fathers to be present in their child’s life whenever possible. To learn more about father’s custodial rights in Wisconsin, read on. 

Establish Paternity

The most important thing you can do when initiating a case for child custody or placement is to establish that you are, in fact, the father of the child. You can do this using a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage when a child is born. If your child’s mother does not cooperate, you can also establish paternity through a court order, often using a DNA test. 

Seek Custody in a Wisconsin Court

When the parents of a child are unmarried, the mother has full custody by default until the custody arrangement is changed by a Wisconsin family court. A father can present a parenting plan to a court in cooperation with the mother or, if she will not cooperate, by himself. The mother will then submit her own parenting plan and a judge will make a decision for the couple or may order them to seek mediation. 

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Pewaukee drug crimes attorneyPublic perception of drug use in America has changed rapidly over the last ten years or so. As more states legalize medical marijuana and even the federal government moves towards treating drug addicts rather than penalizing them, society’s understanding of drug use has relaxed. 

Unfortunately, many states still have harsh laws that are a holdover from America’s infamous “War on Drugs” period. Mandatory minimum sentencing, large fines, and other punitive measures were meant to prevent drug use and distribution. As overdose deaths continue to skyrocket, these measures appear to have failed in their intent and instead have left many lives ruined by impractical punishments. Recognizing this, Wisconsin allows judges to consider deferred prosecution, probation, and other types of alternative sentences to allow citizens charged with drug crimes to properly make amends without completely derailing their lives. 

Pre- and Post-Conviction Diversion

If you have been charged with or convicted of a drug crime, a diversion program may allow you to receive substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, and even job training instead of going to jail. For up to two years, you will have to pass drug tests, go to therapy, perform community service, pay any restitution or fees, or do any other rehabilitative behaviors ordered by the court. 

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Waukesha criminal defense attorneyWhile the criminal justice system in Wisconsin is supposed to be fair and objective, the truth is that it can be difficult to predict exactly what the consequences will be for a specific criminal conviction. Judges often have some discretion when it comes to sentencing, and a previous criminal conviction may impact a judge’s willingness to be generous or forgiving with a defendant. Other factors, like gang involvement or the specific location of a crime, can require a harsher sentence. If you have been charged with criminal conduct, it is important to have a criminal defense attorney help you understand what issues may increase your punishment. 

What Factors Can Increase a Criminal Sentence? 

Before you are sentenced for a crime, you must either take a plea deal or be proven guilty by a jury of your peers. It is essential to have a criminal defense attorney with either option, because an attorney can work out a defense strategy that gets you a better plea bargain or cause the jury to doubt your guilt. 

Once you agree to a plea bargain, or a jury has decided beyond reasonable doubt that you committed a crime, a judge will decide on your sentence and this is where certain aggravating factors become important. For example, theft of retail property worth less than a certain amount may only warrant probation the first time. But, if you are convicted of theft a second time, a judge may decide to send you to jail for up to nine months. 

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