Category: Child Custody and Visitation

Sharing Custody of Children Across All Ages and Stages

sharing custody When there are children involved in a divorce, it is unrealistic to expect that visitation arrangements will be set in stone throughout a child’s life. As the child grows from an infant to a teenager, parents will often make changes to child custody and visitation arrangements to meet their child’s needs. Parents who keep an open line of communication and are able to work together can often make appropriate changes simply by talking to the other parent. However, sometimes, a parent may need to work with an attorney to change a custody agreement to respond to a child’s changing needs.

If you are divorcing and you have an infant, for example, the parenting plan may shape up to include a non-custodial parent having more frequent, albeit shorter visits, instead of every other weekend. Generally, shorter visits may work best for infants, especially those who are nursing, but if you choose to alternate weekends and homes, be prepared to be flexible if a baby is having difficulty.

Toddlers are going through a lot of changes and can be sensitive to changes in their environment and shifting between caregivers. Separation anxiety can be made easier by building in more time for transitions and having regular contact with both parents. Communication between parents is key so that the approach to discipline, sleep schedules and other issues are relatively consistent for the child’s benefit.

When your child reaches preschool age, they will be more verbal and cognitive and can often begin to handle a typical visitation schedule, such as spending alternate weekends at the other parent’s home although a gradual approach is probably best. It is helpful if the other parent routinely has a weekly in- person contact with the child and that the child is able to communicate with either parent by telephone when in different settings.

When a child heads off to elementary school, the parents will want to make sure that school attendance is a priority. It is important that a child gets plenty of rest on school nights so overnights will likely be confined to weekends and holidays unless the parents live in close proximity to one another and the school. With the added responsibility of school, dialing down disruptions may require flexibility on the parents’ parts when working out a visitation schedule.

During the tween years, kids will likely be involved in more activities and have friends they want to hang out with while continuing to need a close relationship with both parents. You will want to continue to follow a schedule of course, but making sure both parents have built in time with the child and can share in their new interests is key.

The teen years requires more input from your child regarding the visitation schedule. Independence is important at this age and a teen will likely have more demands on their time such as homework, a job, friends, and other activities, in addition to an ongoing relationship with his or her parents. You will have to find a balance by supporting your child’s lifestyle but letting them know you both want to spend time with him or her even if it’s a matter of reserving a weekend or a couple of afternoons a month to spend with a parent.

Just because your child is 18, it is not over by a long shot. Adult children still need the love, support and continued presence of their parents. Parents should continue to show respect to the other parent in the child’s presence and both make an effort to be involved in their child’s adult life.

When trying to reach a custody and visitation arrangement in a divorce, it is important to be sensitive to your changing needs as they progress through childhood into adulthood.  If you are considering divorce and have concerns about child custody and visitation contact the Wisconsin family law attorneys of Probst Law Offices at 414-210-3135.

 

 

 

Keeping Your Wisconsin Divorce Settlement Agreement on Track

divorce settlement agreement The heart of a Wisconsin divorce settlement agreement will address issues of child custody and visitation, marital property division, spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support. Many hope to reach a settlement to avoid going to court, but it often takes a skilled negotiator to make it happen if the parties do not agree on the issues. This is where an experienced Wisconsin divorce attorney can help.

Before sitting down at the table with your spouse and his or her attorney, you and your divorce lawyer will plan the meeting, which often includes an agenda, preferably in writing. Your attorney will often work through less contentious issues first to establish a cooperative tone and move into more heated issues as the meeting progresses. It goes without saying that if you start with the sore point, you will get nowhere on the other issues. However, if you work out the bulk of the issues and then tackle points of strong disagreement, your spouse may be more willing to try and work it out in the spirit of continued cooperation.

A skilled negotiator will help keep the focus on the issues, not in taking positions. For example, if you and your spouse are discussing who will pay for the children’s college educations, the issue is really the cost of college and how to finance it, not a battle over whether your kid should be able to attend the priciest institution.  In the same example, if your spouse wants you to pay for half of the kids college tuition, but you do not feel that you should have to pay anything, negotiations will likely break down. It is much better to remain flexible as you work through the issues and, in this case, perhaps offering to pay a third or making your contribution contingent upon your income when the children enter school will keep negotiations on track.

Another area where couples may not see eye to eye is marital property division, but again flexibility when trying to decide who gets what will go a long way. If you have your heart set on keeping the vintage car, for example, then be prepared to trade something of roughly equal value to achieve your goal. Before sitting down, decide what you want to keep and what you are willing to trade in return to keep the discussion moving.

Sometimes, couples cannot agree on all issues but are able to get a large part of the agreement worked out before heading to court saving them time and money. The best approach in any Wisconsin divorce settlement agreement is to work a skilled negotiator – your family law attorney – who can advocate your position while working toward an agreement you can both feel good about. Contact the Southeastern Wisconsin family law attorneys of Probst Law Offices for more information about the divorce settlement process at 414-210-3135.

 

 

Wisconsin Custody and Physical Placement of a Child

wisconsin physical placement child custodyIf you are a parent considering divorce, you and your spouse may be able to work out an agreement regarding child custody and physical placement that works well for your child.  Child custody refers to a right to make legal decisions regarding your child, which may include where your child will attend school, their religious affiliation, what medical care they receive and more. Some parents agree to make all important decisions together, but for others working together on any level may prove difficult.  Keep in mind that the court goes in with a presumption that both parents should have decision making authority of their child unless there is evidence of problems such as domestic violence or abuse. In the absence of any serious issues, you and your spouse may have to be flexible when approaching how you will handle custody of your child.

Physical Placement

Physical placement refers to how much time a child spends with each parent. If you and your spouse intend to live in close proximity following the divorce, you may be able to work out an arrangement where the child divides their time between both homes somewhat equally. To cut down disruption to daily school attendance, parents who live a bit farther apart may opt for an every other weekend arrangement during the school year and split summer breaks and holidays. When trying to reach a workable arrangement, it is important to consider the age of the child and their comfort level in switching between homes, or whether traveling longer distances to spend time with a parent is a good fit. Certainly as kids get older, they are more able to make sense out of the shuffle allowing them to benefit from a relationship with both parents.

When couples cannot agree on custody or physical placement, they may be referred by the court to counseling in an attempt to reach an agreement. Failing that, a judge will decide after considering the unique circumstances presented. He or she may enlist the help of a child representative such as a Guardian Ad Litem to make recommendations on custody and placement that serve the child’s best interests. If there are issues that may present a danger to a child such as a recent history of drug abuse or domestic abuse, custody and placement may be affected as problems are resolved.

Questions Regarding Wisconsin Child Custody or Physical Placement?

If you have questions regarding Wisconsin custody and physical placement, please contact our Wisconsin family law attorneys for answers. The Milwaukee and Waukesha area child custody lawyers of Probst Law offices have over three decades of experience with family law and can help you work through child custody issues. Call us today at 414-210-3135 or send us an email to schedule your free consultation.

Can I Make My Spouse Move Out During Divorce?

During a divorce, you may want to stay in the family home especially when are children involved. If your spouse refuses to leave, there are certain conditions under which a court can order him or her to go, particularly if the other spouse or children feel threatened. You may request a temporary order if there is evidence of domestic abuse or believe your mental or physical well-being is compromised if both spouses continue to occupy the home during divorce proceedings.

Temporary Support Orders in a Wisconsin Divorce

Many spouses who are stay at home moms or dads, or those who earn less income compared to their spouse, may worry how they will get by if their spouse is ordered to leave. In cases where you remain in your home without your spouse and they are the breadwinner of the family, you can file a special motion with the court asking the he or she continue paying the mortgage until things are sorted out. You may also request the payment of temporary child or spousal support during the divorce proceedings so that you can stay afloat while issues such as marital property division, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony are determined.

Contact Our Experienced Child and Spousal Support Lawyers for Help Today

If you are considering divorce and would like more information regarding temporary orders to occupy the family home during a divorce or to obtain temporary monetary support while your divorce is ongoing, contact the Waukesha Family Law offices of Probst Law Offices for help at 414-210-3135.

Appealing Wisconsin Family Court Commissioner Order

Appealing Wisconsin Family Court Commissioner OrderTypically, in Wisconsin, family law matters will be heard in front of a family court commissioner out of a need for efficiency and expediency. Sometimes parties believe that the commissioner “got it wrong” and wonder if there is any recourse.  The answer is yes. If you disagree with a commissioner’s decision in a contested family court commissioner hearing, you have the right to appeal a Wisconsin family court commissioner order.

Appealing Wisconsin Family Court Commissioner Order

Any party has the right to file a review of a court commissioner’s order or can request a new hearing by filing a de novo motion for review.  The difference between the two is that a motion filed simply as a review is really just requesting that a judge decide whether the commissioner properly exercised his or her discretion. On the other hand, in a de novo motion for review, you will be entitled to a new hearing, which can result in a completely different outcome depending on the court’s findings.

De Novo Motion for Review Hearings

If you go the de novo review route, recent case law holds that a ‘full’ evidentiary hearing is in the best interest of all parties to avoid appeals or reversals. Any new evidence or issues that have come up since the initial hearing may be heard providing an important opportunity to present newly discovered or overlooked information that may help your case.

Although rules vary from county to county, filing a de novo motion for review of a family court commissioner’s order is often subject to a strict timeline and may require certain documents to accompany the filing. It is important to check on the local court rules to ensure you are in compliance with the requirements.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer With Decades of Wisconsin Family Court Experience

If you have questions regarding a Wisconsin divorce or the process of appealing Wisconsin family court commissioner orders, contact the Waukesha and Milwaukee family law offices of Probst Law Offices S.C. for more information today at 414-210-3135.

Child Custody In Cases of Domestic Violence

Sad LadyIf domestic violence was an issue during a marriage, sometimes it will impact how a victim and his or her ex-spouse will be able to co-parent after a separation or divorce particularly in the first year after the split.

A recent study by the University of Illinois takes a closer look at co-parenting relationships in the year immediately following separation for couples with a history of intimate partner violence. The studies seeks to answer questions such as whether harassment continues following divorce and if parents emerging from domestic violence situations can support each other as co -parents.

It turns out that the type of violence a victim is subjected to, has an impact on co-parenting success. Couples who were involved in situational violence such as arguments escalating into physical abuse against a victim, for example, had better outcomes when compared to couples engaged in a relationship involving coercive, controlling violence.

Although victims of situational violence in marriage did continue to experience harassment and conflict during the first year, it was less than those who left controlling, violent relationships. It appears that parents who emerge from marriages where situational violence erupts are more able to work out issues after the divorce, allowing them to work toward co-parenting more readily.

In contrast, victims who had experienced coercive, controlling violence in their marriages continued to experience higher levels of harassment, conflict, and volatility from their former partners. A level of unpredictability played out for many victims who might experience high levels of conflict and harassment that sometimes improved or seemed better, only to worsen all over again. It is an unfortunate cycle of fear and unpredictability that undermines co-parenting success.

Waukesha Divorce, Child Custody and Domestic Violence Attorneys

A history of domestic violence in a marriage can have a lasting impact on families in a divorce.  It is important that all parties, especially those working on behalf of the children, the victim and the abusive spouse, understand the effects that specific types of violence have on the ability to co-parent when making child custody assessments in a divorce. If you are seeking a divorce and have been a victim of abuse, it is important to work with an experienced family law attorney to represent your and your children’s best interests. Call the Waukesha Family Law Attorneys of Probst Law Offices for help today at 414-210- 3135.

 

 

 

 

 

Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights in Wisconsin

Termination of parental rights can be involuntary or voluntary.  Involuntary termination can occur in cases of certain felony convictions, long periods of incarceration, severe or chronic abuse or sexual abuse of a child or other children in a household, long term problems with drugs or alcohol, mental illness or deficiency, failure to support a child or abandonment.

Adoption After the Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Children who have been removed from a home where parental rights have been involuntarily terminated may have relatives, a foster family or another party who may wish to adopt them. This can be beneficial to the children in terms of financial and emotional support as well as stability.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

Voluntary termination of parental rights usually occurs when parents wish to give their child up for adoption. One or both birth parents must legally consent to the adoption without coercion, threat of force. Most states require consent in writing before a judge with both the biological mother and father (if paternity established) on-board.

Voluntary termination of parental rights is often seen in cases where one parent, sometimes a father, has not established a relationship or supported a child and a step parent wishes to adopt the child as their own. Sometimes it is a minor couple, or an adolescent mother, who wishes to give a baby up for adoption believing it is in the best interests of the child.

Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights in Wisconsin

For those wishing to adopt a child, an adoption can only occur after the termination of parental rights is legally established, whether voluntary or involuntary.  The procedures in Wisconsin for adoption and termination of parental rights can be very complex by design so that the best interests of children are served and the rights of parents are protected.

Contact an Experienced Waukesha Adoption Lawyer

If you are considering adoption or terminating your parental rights it is important to contact an experienced Wisconsin adoption attorney to help guide you through the process. Contact Milwaukee and Waukesha adoption lawyer Jane Probst for more insight into pursuing an individual or family adoption or the termination of parental rights. We offer a free, half-hour initial consultation to gain an understanding of your situation, providing you with general feedback so that you can decide the best course of action given your unique circumstances. If you need representation, Jane Probst Law Offices is poised to provide you with experienced and knowledgeable legal assistance in individual, agency and non-agency adoptions.

Parental Alienation

Most children wish to have a good relationship with both parents following divorce. According to research, children often say that the worse thing about a divorce is that they do not get enough time with one or both parents after the split. It may be that the parent they spend the most time with during the week is busy making ends meet on one income or that weekend visits with the other parent just don’t seem like enough. Ideally, parenting plans should strive to provide regular contact with both parents, with an even balance between homes.

On the other side of the coin are children who reject one parent, resist contact or show reluctance to be with one of his or her parents, sometimes resulting in alienation. While some children have good reason to reject a parent, others may suddenly withdraw from a parent with whom they previously had a good relationship aligning themselves with the other parent who may be displaying negative feelings toward their ex-spouse. In these cases, the treatment of the rejected parent is inconsistent to the parent-child relationship they once had and has no apparent relation to the parent’s behavior.

Sometimes, it is a situation in which one parent subconsciously turns their children against the other parent. In extreme cases, one parent may deliberately damage the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent through various means of manipulation. Unfortunately, this can result in the destruction of the parent child relationship over time.

Of course, pitting a child against his or her parent is a lose – lose situation for the child. The effects for children involved in this tug-of-war have included depression, poor academic performance, self-esteem issues and more. Although emotions can run high in divorce proceedings, and sometimes one parent may wish to punish the other parent, damaging a parent-child relationship  should be off-limits.

Of course, malicious behavior can have legal consequences. Some parental alienation actions may be violations of criminal law if child abuse is an issue or there may be violations of civil law, where a parent is denying court ordered visitation. Both can be considered as factors in any proceeding to gain or adjust custody.

Sometimes it can be difficult to prove that the other parent is negatively influencing your relationship with your child, however, there have been cases successfully litigated. Not only has custody been awarded or modified to the benefit of the targeted parent, but sometimes courts may  require the meddling parent to seek court ordered counseling and to submit to supervise visitation until the problem is resolved.

Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Parental Alienation Family Law Attorney

If you suspect that your ex is interfering with your relationship with your child or is refusing to allow you to see your child, it is important to seek the help of an experienced Wisconsin parental alienation family law attorney. Put decades of experience to work for you and contact the child custody modification lawyers at Probst Law Offices, S.C. for a free and confidential consultation at 414-210-3135.

 

 

 

 

Child Custody Dispute : The Role of the Guardian Ad Litem

custody visitation lawyer and attorney wisconsinIf divorcing parents cannot agree on a custody and visitation arrangement for their child, the court may assign a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the interests of a child in a Wisconsin child custody dispute.

Contested Child Custody and Visitation

A guardian ad litem is a person the court appoints to investigate what solutions are in the best interests of the child. They are typically appointed in contested child custody and visitation cases, but they may also be involved in adoptions, termination of parental rights cases or other cases that require more information about the child’s circumstances.

A GAL can look at things such as where the child should live most of the time, whether there are issues of substance abuse, or what contact a child should have with a parent. Depending on what is in the court order, a GAL may be asked to report on the overall situation and offer a custody recommendation to the court or their role may be limited to investigating a few specific issues.

The best interests of the child are first and foremost in a disputed custody case, of course. The GAL’s recommendation should strive to protect the child’s right to a meaningful, engaged relationship with both parents when possible factoring in the child’s age, the existing relationship with each parent, the stability of the home environments, and each parent’s ability to care for the child among other considerations.

A Guardian ad litem is typically an attorney or a mental health professional who has undergone special training to represent the best interests of a child. In some cases, a parent may feel that a guardian ad litem is not working effectively on behalf of their child, which may be resolved by sharing your concerns with the GAL or sharing your concerns with the court.

Within the general provisos of the Order, a GAL is required to inform the court when his or her recommendation is not in sync with a child’s wishes. To protect privacy, the report provided by the GAL is sealed so that only the parties to the custody dispute and the court can access the information. Your cooperation with the GAL is required by law and it is not permitted to exercise undue influence over your child to gain advantage during the evaluation.

Wisconsin Child Custody Dispute Lawyers

If you have questions regarding child custody in a divorce, contact the Wisconsin child custody dispute lawyers of Probst Law Offices for assistance. If you are dealing with a child custody or visitation matter, it is important to have an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney on your side. Attorneys Jane Probst and Lyndsay White have successfully represented many clients who have family law issues regarding the custody of their children in a divorce. Contact our offices at 414-210-3135 for a free consultation of your case.

 

Wisconsin Grandparent Visitation Rights

Families can grow apart for various reasons and sometimes grandparents become estranged from their grandchildren. Reasons may include issues such as divorce, the death of a parent, drug or alcohol abuse, imprisonment, or a break down in the relationship between the parents and grandparents in general.

Grandparents may wish to seek visitation rights with their grandchildren and, in some cases, they may be permitted to petition the court. However, in Wisconsin, courts strongly protect the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit without outside interference, so a lot depends on the circumstances.

Grandparents who wish to petition for visitation rights may do so only if there is an action affecting the family such as divorce, separation, or perhaps in cases where the parents may be unfit or incompetent. If no action is pending, grandparents are typically not allowed to petition the court.

Grandparent Visitation in Cases of Divorce

If the parents divorce, the courts prefer to see grandparents and children continue an existing relationship of course. However, if both parents refuse to allow grandparent visitation, the court will be hesitant to interfere. If proposed grandparent visitation cuts into the limited time the child could otherwise spend with a parent, time with parents may take priority.

What If My Grandchild’s Parents Were Not Married?

Nowadays, young couples with children may not be married. In paternity cases, the courts are more likely to grant grandparent visitation in cases where the custodial parent is preventing contact if grandparents have maintained a relationship with the child or attempted to.

It is important to bear in mind that if grandparents are seeking visitation, interference with the custodial parents decisions will be frowned upon. In other words, your rights are limited to having a relationship with the child, not calling the shots or otherwise undermining the relationship between the parent and child.

The Best Interests of the Child in Grandparent Visitation Determinations

If you have grounds to petition the court for visitation with your grandchild, generally speaking the court will look at many factors to consider what is in the best interests of the child (see Wis. Stat. § 767.43 )

The wishes of the parent(s)
The needs of the child, including considerations of physical and emotional health of the child, the safety of the child, and the welfare of the child
The capability of the parents and/or grandparents to meet the needs of the child
The wishes of the child, if the child is capable of making decisions for himself or herself
The strength of the relationship between the grandparent(s) and grandchild
The length of the relationship between the grandparent(s) and grandchild
Evidence of abuse or neglect by the parent(s) or grandparent(s)
Evidence of substance abuse by the parent(s) or grandparent(s)
The child’s adjustment to the home, school, or community
The ability of the parent(s) or grandparent(s) to provide love, affection, and contact with the child
The distance between the child and the parent(s) or grandparent(s)

Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Grandparent Visitation Rights Lawyer

Put Decades of Experience with Wisconsin Child Custody and Visitation Matters on Your Side!

If you have questions about Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights or child custody issues and would like to meet with an experienced Wisconsin Family Law attorney, contact our Waukesha and Milwaukee metro family law offices for more information. We understand that grandparents have an important role to play in their grandchildren’s lives and we will make every effort to help you maintain that relationship. Contact the Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights attorneys at Probst Law Offices S.C. for help today at 414-210-3135.