Category: Divorce

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.



Questions to Ask During Your Initial Consultation With a Divorce Lawyer

If you are scheduled for an initial consolation with a divorce lawyer, it is a good idea to think about questions you may want to ask. You will likely want information regarding their experience, a general sense of how your case will be handled, and what fees you can expect. First, let’s consider the attorney’s experience and what questions you may have:

  • Does the attorney handle the type of divorce you are seeking? Are you looking for divorce mediation services, a collaborative divorce, or a more traditional divorce? Perhaps you and your spouse have hammered out an agreement you only wish to have reviewed. Your attorney should have experience in the type of divorce you hope to enter into – many will be happy to provide a referral if they do not offer the services you seek.
  • Has the attorney handled cases involving child custody disputes, spousal support, business valuation, or whatever issue is your major concern? Divorce can be simple or complex depending on whether children are involved, if there is a family business or substantial property to be divided – you will want an attorney that has experience handling issues that are relevant to your case.
  • Ask the attorney how many divorce cases they have handled and whether those cases went to trial or settled beforehand. A skilled negotiator can often help you reach a fair settlement, but it is also advantageous to have an attorney that has experience in the courtroom, and the judges who may hear your case, in the event you and your spouse cannot agree.
  • Does the lawyer know the opposing attorney and are they able to work well together? When trying to reach a settlement, it is helpful if the attorneys representing the spouses are able to communicate effectively so if there is a problem, you should know.

When you are seeking legal representation for a divorce, finding an attorney with experience and knowledge is important. Preparing questions in advance of your consultation will help you to decide if the attorney has the experience to handle your case. Please see our Wisconsin family law blog posts regarding questions to ask regarding what you can expect in a divorce case and questions regarding fees before hiring a divorce attorney.

Probst Law Offices has decades of experience specializing in all areas of Wisconsin family law, including divorce, divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, child custody, spousal support, property division, guardianship and termination of parental rights and we will answer your divorce questions. To set-up your free initial consultation, give us a call at 414-210-3135 or email us.

What Questions Should I Ask About Fees When Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering divorce, it is important to understand how attorney billing and miscellaneous fees are handled before hiring an attorney. It is a good idea to ask questions about fees when hiring a divorce lawyer at your initial consultation so you know what you can expect if you hire the attorney.

  • What is the billing rate? Attorneys typically bill by the hour, so you will want to ask what their billing rate is and that of the associate (if any) assigned to your case. Ask what is the minimum unit of time the attorney bills at and if phone calls are billed.
  • Do I need a retainer? Typically a firm will ask for a retainer, a lump sum, which they will deduct charges from as the case progresses. Ask if a retainer is required and how much it is? Ask what happens when the retainer is depleted.
  • Can my spouse pick up the tab? One question that many clients ask is if the attorney can collect fees from their spouse – ask your attorney about options in this regard.
  • What other fees can I expect? Ask about any extra fees you can expect beyond the attorney’s fees such as court costs, process servers, expert witnesses, photocopies, stenographers and more. Ask if the fees are paid in advance or as you go. An experienced attorney will be able to provide you a ballpark figure on various miscellaneous fees you may incur in your case so you have a general idea of what you can expect.

It is important to understand attorney fees and other costs associated with getting a divorce. Preparing a few questions in advance of your initial consultation regarding the potential costs along with questions pertaining to the attorney’s family law experience and what you can expect from your case will help you make an informed decision when seeking a Wisconsin divorce attorney. For a free initial consultation, give us a call at 414-210-3135 or an email.

What to Expect from Your Divorce Attorney

During your initial consultation with a divorce attorney, it is important to ask questions regarding the handling of your case. The following are some questions you may want to ask to get a feel for the day to day handling of your case before making a decision to hire a divorce attorney:

  • Who will be working on my case? Many attorneys work closely with associates. Ask your attorney if anyone will be assisting him or her on your case and what their experience and qualifications they bring to the job. If an associate will be working on your case regularly, you may want to meet them to put a name with a face. Although the help of an experienced associate is invaluable, ensure that your attorney will be negotiating your case.
  • How will communications be handled during my case? Ask how you will be notified of developments and if the attorney is available to take phone calls to answer questions you may have. It is important that you know what is going on in your case and you should expect to get copies of important papers in a timely manner. Of course, you may have questions as your case progresses, so find out who is the best point of contact at the firm for questions that arise.
  • What is the general plan for a case like mine? After meeting with you to discuss your unique situation, an attorney should be able to give you a general idea of the divorce process and the time it could take. Ask the attorney to briefly speak to an overall plan for your case. Ask them what problems they foresee and if you will have input in the decisions concerning your case. Finally, ask the attorney how much they think the case will cost given the circumstances of your case – see our blog regarding questions to ask about divorce fees.

You should be comfortable with and trust the divorce lawyer you choose. Asking questions during the initial consultation can help you find the right fit in a divorce attorney. See our Wisconsin divorce blogs regarding what questions to ask about experience when hiring a divorce lawyer and what questions you should ask about fees when hiring an attorney.

Contact Experienced Waukesha Family Law Attorneys

Probst Law Offices, S.C. will assist you with your family law concern. Call (414) 210-3135 or send an email for your free, half-hour initial consultation. We will personally and promptly respond to all messages.

Finalizing Your Divorce in 2018 May Save You Money

Divorce in 2018A reminder to those considering divorce…new tax laws will impact how spousal maintenance is treated beginning January 1, 2019, which can make a difference in how much money remains in the the family unit.

Current Tax Laws and Spousal Maintenance

Spouses who pay alimony that finalize their divorce on or before December 31, 2018 will be able to deduct the alimony paid from their taxes while the presumably lower earning recipient claims the payments as taxable income. For top earners, this arrangement often translates into a whole lot of money saved in taxes for the benefit of the family unit.

Spousal Maintenance Tax Treatment Changes with the New Year

However, for couples finalizing their divorce on or after January 1, 2019, alimony will not be deductible by the payor or taxable to the recipient. Although at first glance, many think a recipient might favor such a change, the shift will likely result in less alimony being paid when a payor loses the incentive of a reduced tax burden.

How Does the Law Apply When Couples are Already Divorced?

The law permits ex-spouses to modify an earlier divorce agreement to adopt the new rule after it goes into effect in 2019, however if a pre-2019 divorce is not modified, your ‘grandfathered-in’  allowing the payer to continue to deduct payments made and the recipient to pay the taxes on what is received. Seek the help of an experienced divorce lawyer to see if a modification is right for your situation.

The timing of your divorce can impact the amount of spousal maintenance you will receive. If you have questions regarding Wisconsin divorce or spousal maintenance, contact Probst Law Offices for a free, half-hour initial consultation with an experienced Milwaukee and Waukesha attorney for child support and spousal maintenance.  Call (414) 210-3135 or send us an email.


Pet Custody in a Divorce

pet custody in a divorceTo the delight of pet lovers across the state, last year the Illinois legislature passed a new pet custody in a divorce law that allows judges to consider the well-being of a pet when allocating sole or joint ownership in an Illinois divorce. Much like child custody, the new pet custody law allows a judge to take the best interest of the pet into consideration instead of just treating pets as marital property to be divided.

Although many in Wisconsin also have strong emotional ties to their pets, often considering them a member of the family, Wisconsin courts do not expressly recognize pets as being more than property. Unfortunately, when it comes to divorce, Wisconsin law treats pets just like any other marital property such as furniture or a car, subject to division based on their monetary value.

When trying to determine what is best for the pet and the family in a Wisconsin divorce, reaching a compromise is ideal. Parties will need to decide who will keep the pet after a divorce and whether the other party will be allowed visitation. If you find that and your spouse cannot agree, it may be worthwhile to work with a third party mediator to help you reach an arrangement.

If all efforts fail and you decide to have the issue decided in court, it is important for you and your attorney to present a strong argument as to why a pet should remain under your care. Factors may include who has taken primary responsibility for feeding and caring for the pet during the marriage, whether being awarded the pet serves the children’s best interests in a primary placement household, or if one of the parties owned the pet prior to the marriage. These and other considerations will help strengthen your argument to maintain your relationship with a cat, dog or other family pet.

Concerned about Pet Custody in a Divorce?

Contact Experienced Wisconsin Marital Property Division Lawyers For Help

Until Wisconsin law catches up to take a more compassionate view of what is in the best interests of the family pet in a divorce, it remains a contentious issue. If you have concerns regarding marital property division with regard to a beloved pet, contact the family law attorneys at Probst Law Offices for immediate help.

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.

Divorce and Business Ownership

The possibility of divorce should be an integral part of your business financial planning – the survival of your business may depend on it. It is not just your own divorce you need to worry about, but the possibility that your business partner or an investor may divorce down the road putting your company at risk.

In community property states, including Wisconsin, all assets and liabilities, including those related to business ventures, are typically split 50-50 if they are acquired during the marriage. Equitable distribution states, on the other hand, will divide assets according to the marital circumstances, so spouses may be awarded different percentages.

Divorce and Business Ownership

Whatever the percentage, a business owner would have to come up with an equal cash value to give to his or her ex-spouse or they may be forced to sell part or all of the business to come up with the funds to satisfy the terms of a divorce settlement agreement. With nearly fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce, it is not wise to take a chance on losing your business so it is important to put agreements in place that will keep the company up and running in the event of a divorce.

The more detailed a prenuptial agreement is, the better. In order to achieve a fair settlement when there is a business involved, parties will need to know how much the business is worth. A prenuptial should include details on how the company will be valued and who will be responsible for the costs of a business valuation as they can run anywhere from 5 to 10K for smaller businesses, to as high as 30K for larger, more complex businesses.

A prenuptial or post nuptial agreement should provide clear details on how assets will be divided. There should also be a provision for an extended payout, to avoid the shock of a hefty, onetime payment to an ex-spouse that could send a company into a tailspin. Because a company will likely change over time, it is also important to include a requirement to update agreements periodically so that they make sense if and when a divorce occurs.

Divorce and Business Ownership Questions?

Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Business Valuation Divorce Attorney For Answers at 414-210-3135

There are many issues to consider if you have a business – having a clear idea of what will happen in the event of a divorce is just good business practice. If you would like more information regarding premarital agreements with regard to a business or  if you are considering divorce with a business, it is very important to seek the help of an experienced complex marital property division and business valuation lawyer. Contact Probst Law Offices for more information regarding the division of marital assets and debts with a business.

Moms Returning to Work After Divorce

The vast majority of parents who take time off to raise children would ultimately like to return to the workplace. This is particularly true for stay-at-home parents that are divorcing who find themselves thrust into finding employment to financially support their family.

Returning to Work After a Divorce

Although there are more dads staying home with the children these days, more typically the mom will put her career on hold to raise the kids during the marriage and, when things go south, she is the one looking for a job.

Fortunately, research shows that many qualified women are able to return to the workforce when they want to or need to. However, studies reveal of the 73% of women who returned to the workforce, only 40% landed regular full time work.

One of the biggest challenges professionals face when trying to make a career shift is perception. Hiring managers looking at candidates who have been out of the workforce may be concerned about how current your skills are and where your priorities lie when it comes to the work/family balance. Continue reading “Moms Returning to Work After Divorce”

Waukesha Domestic Violence Divorce Attorney

Waukesha Domestic Violence Divorce Attorney | Restraining Orders for Wisconsin Divorce

If you are considering divorce and have concerns regarding domestic abuse, child abuse, substance abuse or other safety issues that may put you or your children in danger from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you may want to consider contacting a Waukesha domestic violence divorce attorney for help with a restraining order or an order of protection.

If you are in imminent danger, it is important to contact the police or a domestic abuse shelter for immediate help. If the matter is related to your Wisconsin divorce or family law matter, we can help you with all issues related to obtaining a Wisconsin restraining order or an order for protection.

A restraining order is a court order that directs someone not to hurt you, to stay away from you, move out of your home, cease contact of any kind or stop harassing you. It may also extend protection to your family members.

The process is initiated by petitioning the court for a temporary restraining order, which, if granted, will result in an injunction hearing where the court may issue a final order of protection, or injunction, that will be valid for up to two years for child abuse, and up to four years for domestic abuse or harassment. Continue reading “Waukesha Domestic Violence Divorce Attorney”