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We Can Help with Divorce in Wisconsin Step by Step

Each county, and sometimes each court, does things a little bit differently. You should check with your local attorneys for complete information.

Our legal team can help you understand the process, your options, and assist you in selecting the options that are best for your circumstances. Our firm will help you analyze and pursue your interests throughout the following steps:

1. We can help you decide how to file. Will you start the action on your own as the petitioner? Or, will you and your spouse sign the documents together and file the action jointly?

2. We can help you file the divorce. The summons and petition (or joint petition) for divorce or legal separation and confidential petition addendum must be filed with the court and appropriate fees paid to the Clerk of Circuit Court.

3. We can help you decide whether you need a temporary order. A temporary order is a court enforceable outline of the rights, responsibilities and obligations of parties undergoing the divorce process. We can help you pursue a temporary order if you and your spouse cannot agree on the following issues:

  • Child Custody
  • Use of automobiles or other personal property
  • Child Placement Payment of bills
  • Child Support Payment of maintenance or spousal support
  • Use of the family residence

4. We can help you serve the necessary paperwork for divorce and temporary order on your spouse. A court cannot hear the action until your spouse is provided with copies of the materials and proof of that service must be filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court.

5. We can represent you and your interests at a temporary order hearing. We can assist you in negotiating a stipulated temporary order (agreed upon order) or if needed we can advance your positions and arguments at a contested hearing before the court.

6. We can help you through the divorce process. Is your case languishing? Waiting for a final hearing? Our legal team has the knowledge to assist you in obtaining the necessary pretrial information, pretrial orders, and scheduling to complete your divorce as efficiently as possible. We can help get you to final hearing in a manner that advances your interests.

7. We can help you prepare, negotiate and finalize all the paperwork for your final divorce. These documents include:

  • Marital Settlement Agreement (if you and your spouse can agree on everything) or a Proposed Marital Settlement Order (if you don’t agree).
  • Financial Disclosure Statements
  • Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Judgment of Divorce
  • Vital Statistics Form (from the Clerk of Circuit Court office).

8. We can help you at the final hearing whether its contested, partially stipulated/contested, or a full agreement.

9. We can help you complete any post divorce work or documents after the final hearing. We will assist you in the preparation and transmission of deeds, titles, and the documents needed to divide retirement accounts such as pensions, 401ks and IRAs.

Call Petit & Dommershausen, SC today. 920-739-9900.

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Important Tax Information While Going Through Divorce

Determine your filing status. Your marital status at the end of the year determines how you file your tax return. If you were divorced by midnight on December 31 of the tax year, you will file separately from your former spouse. If you are the custodial parent for your children, you may qualify for the favorable head of household status. If not, then you will file as a single taxpayer, even if you were married for part of the tax year.

Consider the tax implications of support.
If you were divorced before 2019 and have not been back to court, the recipient of maintenance must claim it on her tax return, but child support isn’t reported as income. If you rolled your support together into “family support” in your agreement, that makes it fully taxable to the recipient and deductible to the payer, just like maintenance. Child support isn’t deductible.
If you are divorced in 2019 or after, maintenance and child support are not deductible to the person who pays it nor are they income to the person who receives it.

Don’t run afoul of the special rules regarding support. If maintenance payments are concentrated in the first year or two after divorce, the IRS may consider the money to be non-deductible property settlement. And if maintenance is scheduled to end within six months of a child’s 18th or 21st birthday, the IRS may consider the alimony, in reality, to be disguised child support.

Review your divorce decree to see who will claim the child tax credits. If divorce agreement did not specify who claims the children as exemptions, then the exemption for your kids goes to the custodial parent. If you have joint custody, the exemption goes to the parent who has the child the greatest number of days during the tax year.

File first if tax credits are an issue. If you are entitled to claim the children on your return, but your ex threatens to claim them instead, file early in the year. That way, since you’ve already claimed the children, the IRS will make your ex prove he or she was entitled to the exemption.

Claim the child care credit if you are eligible. If you are the custodial parent and you incur work-related child care for children under the age of 13, you may be able to claim a credit for a portion of the cost. Unlike the exemption, which can be assigned using IRS Form 8332, the child care credit is available only to the custodial parent.

Review legal fees paid during your divorce. Although most legal fees are not tax-deductible, fees you paid for advice concerning the tax consequences of your divorce can be taken as an itemized deduction on Schedule A of your tax return. Other fees, such as the cost of preparing a new title for your rental property, can be added to the tax basis of your assets.

Make estimated tax payments if withholding isn’t enough. If your withholding won’t be enough to cover your taxes for the coming year, set up quarterly estimated tax payments so that you won’t owe taxes and penalties at the end of the coming year.
Divorce may not be as inevitable as taxes, but it certainly brings complications to tax filing. Follow these ten tips, and the process should go smoothly in the future.
Tajara Dommershausen is a founding partner at Petit & Dommershausen, SC. Her practice focuses primarily on family law including divorce, paternity, custody, child support, maintenance and property division. She practices in a wide range of counties throughout Northeast Wisconsin, including Outagamie, Winnebago, Waupaca, Calumet and Fond du Lac counties. Please give her a call today at 920-739-9900.

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How will the Coronavirus affect my Divorce or Family Law case?

Governor Evers has declared a public health emergency due to the novel Coronavirus and associated COVID-19 pandemic for the State of Wisconsin. The United States Centers for Disease Control has issued guidance directing that businesses, organizations, and governmental units develop and implement flexible attendance policies that allow employees to stay home when sick, to remain home to care for sick household members, or to work from home when possible. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has issued orders implementing these guidelines into the Wisconsin Court system.

How does this impact the courts?

The Courts of the State of Wisconsin remain open.

However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended all in-person proceedings through Thursday, April 30, 2020. This suspension may be extended or modified by court order as circumstances may warrant. Many hearings and court conferences may proceed telephonically or via video conference. Some courts may even livestream proceedings on YouTube.

Each County, and in some cases each circuit court, has implemented policies to direct the management of cases under the order of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Family Law and Divorce matters are subject to these rules. Pretrial hearings may be rescheduled or converted to telephonic proceedings. Some courts may permit stipulated hearings to proceed via telephone or other remote means, but other contested issues may be subject to rescheduling. Reaching a final resolution in your case may remain possible, but depends on your circumstances and potentially whether your counsel remains well versed and informed on each court’s policies.

Mediations through Family Court Services may be conducted remotely, but individual offices and individual cases may have unique qualities. Preparation for these proceedings is even more essential under these special circumstances.

Are you concerned about your case?

The Family Law Legal Team at Petit & Dommershausen, SC, is here for you. Governor Evers order provided that Legal Services are an Essential Service. We are therefore open and ready to assist you.

We can determine the status of your divorce or family law matter, implement a responsive strategy under the current circumstances, and we can guide you through your case challenges during this difficult time. A Great Outcome Will Not Just Happen under these circumstances. A knowledgeable, caring, and responsive legal team is an essential component of a Great Outcome. We have implemented significant policy changes to protect our clients, staff, and community as we work through this time.

Contact us at 920-739-9900 or visit us at pdlawoffice.com for more information.

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Import Wisconsin Divorce Law Changes: Impact of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Family Law

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in 2017, imposed extensive changes throughout the tax code. A few of those changes directly impact Wisconsin family law litigants and are important to keep in mind, particularly when going through a divorce.

The first, and arguably most drastic change which impacts family law, is the elimination of the deduction for maintenance payments. Maintenance, also commonly referred to as “alimony,” is a monetary payment from one former spouse to the other, for either a limited or indefinite period of time. Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a former spouse who paid maintenance to the other spouse was allowed to claim a tax deduction from his or her income. Similarly, the recipient spouse of the maintenance was required to report all maintenance payments as taxable income. Under the new law, for any divorce or separation decree executed after December 31, 2018, the payor spouse is not allowed to claim a deduction, and the recipient spouse is no longer required to claim the maintenance as taxable income. This is an important change because prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, many divorce litigants were incentivized to pay maintenance based on the knowledge that they would receive a tax deduction. This incentive no longer exists under the new law, which may make maintenance disputes more prevalent.

The second important change which impacts family law is the elimination of personal exemptions. Prior to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers were allowed to claim a $4,050 deduction per qualifying taxpayer, spouse, or dependent. Under the new law, personal exemptions are suspended for the tax years of 2018-2025. Personal exemptions provided tax savings for all filers, but particularly for filers with dependent children. This is an important change for the divorce process because parents going through a divorce typically negotiated as to which parent would be allowed to claim the child(ren) for each tax year.

Although personal exemptions are eliminated under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the child tax credit was doubled from $1,000 to $2,000 for the tax years of 2018-2025. The child tax credit is available for each qualifying child under the age of 17. Although this increase can impact divorcing parents, it does not hold the same negotiation importance during the divorce process as the personal exemption did because the child tax credit is generally only available to the parent who the child lives with for at least six months out of the year.

It is important for family law litigants to keep tax considerations in mind when going through a divorce. If you need help with a divorce, please contact Petit & Dommershausen today and speak to one of our experienced family law attorneys. With three convenient locations in Oshkosh, the Appleton area, and Green Bay, we serve all of northeast Wisconsin including Outagamie, Winnebago, Waupaca, Calumet, Brown, Oconto, Marinette, and Fond du Lac counties.

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Wisconsin Law: At what age can a child decide which parent they want to live with?

So, you’re either going through a divorce or you already have an existing placement order. Your child is at an age where they have started to express an opinion as to which parent they want to live with or spend the most time with. At what age does the child’s opinion matter?

Under Wisconsin statutes, physical placement orders will be structured to either award shared placement to both parents or primary placement to one parent. Shared placement occurs when both parents have at least 25% of overnights per year. Primary placement occurs when one parent has more than 75% of overnights in a year. Wisconsin law provides that a child is entitled to meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent, unless such an order would endanger the child.

In a contested placement dispute, Courts will typically appoint a Guardian ad Litem for the minor child. A Guardian ad Litem is an attorney who advocates for the best interests of the child and makes a recommendation to the court upon conducting an investigation. Under Wisconsin law, the Guardian ad Litem is required to consider the wishes of a minor child, but is not bound by those wishes when making their recommendation to the Court.

Similarly, the Court is required to consider the child’s wishes when determining periods of physical placement. However, the child’s opinion is only one of the many factors that the Court must consider. Among the other factors that the Court is required to consider are: the parents’ wishes, the age of the child, the amount and quality of time the child has spent with each parent in the past, the mental and physical health of the parents and child, etc.

Therefore, there is no specific age in Wisconsin where a child is able to decide which parent they want to live with. A child’s wishes must be considered by both the Guardian ad Litem and the Court once the child reaches an age where they are able to articulate those wishes. However, both the Guardian ad Litem and the Court are also required to consider all factors relevant to the best interests of the child, even if the result is a placement order that is contrary to the child’s wishes.

If you need help with a divorce or custody/placement dispute, please contact Petit & Dommershausen today and speak to one of our experienced family law attorneys. With three convenient locations in Oshkosh, the Appleton area, and Green Bay, we serve all of northeast Wisconsin including Outagamie, Winnebago, Waupaca, Calumet, Brown, Oconto, Marinette, and Fond du Lac counties.

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WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER MEDIATING YOUR DIVORCE

Divorce Mediation

Divorce can be emotionally, financially, and physically stressful. Divorce mediation is a way to reduce stress. While protracted litigation is necessary in some cases, for many people, mediation is an effective alternative that allows you to reach an agreement in the least stressful way. In a divorce mediation, a neutral mediator assists a divorcing couple in arriving at a mutually acceptable agreement. While emphasizing cooperative problem solving, it is non-adversarial and gives you more control over the issues that matter most to you, such as child custody, placement and division of assets. Many people find that mediation helps the parties maintain cooperation both during and after the divorce. The following are some of the benefits to mediation:

  1. You control the results. You and your spouse decide the terms of your agreement – not the Court, not divorce attorneys, and not a Guardian ad Litem. Important decisions about your children, your finances, and your future are not in the hands of anyone but you.
  1. Non-adversarial. Mediation focuses on creative and cooperative problem solving and tries to address everyone’s needs. We try to resolve any outstanding issues by communicating and discussing instead of arguing. This allows you to work as a team to have a stronger possibility of reaching a mutually satisfying agreement.
  1. There is greater confidentiality involved. All communications and documents associated with the mediation process are confidential, as are all discussions had with the mediators. This is not true of litigation as anything that is discussed is fair game in the courtroom.
  1. Your children are more protected from conflict. This allows your children not to be exposed to tension, additional stress and other signs of the continuing conflict between their parents. This also allows them not to be interviewed by a Guardian ad Litem and/or the custody study evaluators. Divorce mediators help you focus on your children’s needs as you try to reach a custody and placement agreement.
  1. Get divorced faster. Instead of having to wait for hearing dates, depositions and the discovery process, many parties are able to resolve their case more efficiently and thus get divorced faster. This way, you are able to move on to the next chapter of your life more quickly.
  1. Post-divorce communication is better. During the mediation process, the parties are required to talk as they work towards a consensus on important issues. This ability to talk through issues and cooperate will have a positive long-term impact on your future co-parenting skills, which obviously benefits your children.

If you think that you and your spouse could possibly, with the help of a third-party mediator, work through your issues, mediation could be the right strategy for you. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Petit & Dommershausen can help you address the ending of your marriage in a supportive, non-confrontational environment. Please call Attorney Tajara Dommershausen 920-739-9900, today to learn more about the divorce mediation process.  You can learn more at pdlawoffice.com

 

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Co-Parenting Tips for a Happy Holiday

Holidays can be a difficult time for divorced or separated families especially when people crave the perfect family event. It can be emotionally gut wrenching having to split holiday time with your ex and knowing that the person passing the gravy to your kids is not you, but your ex’s new love.  Protect your kids from the stress of their changing family situation this holiday season. Kids are easily influenced and often remember holidays for a lifetime.

Remember the holidays should be all about your kids, NOT YOU!

These experiences, combined with the cultural expectation to have a Hallmark holiday, can send divorced parents into emotional overload. So how do you keep your charged feelings from spilling over onto your kids? Especially at exchanges which can seem like an emotional rollercoaster? Here are some tips for managing holiday drop-offs with true co-parenting grace.

 

  • Try to talk with your ex (if you can’t talk, email or text but in as neutral tone as humanly possible!!). If your children will be traveling, you and your ex must discuss beforehand what they will need to bring. Winter coats? Games they love? A backpack of activities? A favorite stuffed animal?  Bring necessary items to the drop-off. Don’t be passive-aggressive by “forgetting” anything. Similarly, don’t yell at your ex if he didn’t bring what was expected. Protect your children from any transitional snafus by handling the situation like the adult you are and arranging, if possible, to deliver the goods as soon as you can.

 

  • Talk with your children.Younger kids especially can be confused by the change in your usual schedule.  Discuss holiday plans with them beforehand. Assure them that they will get to spend time with both parents and other important family members. Explain this well before the holiday so they have time to process the news and ask questions before drop-off.  Does traveling make them anxious? Would they like to take something along? Games they love?  A backpack of activities? A favorite stuffed animal?  Help your children transition easier.

 

  • Be on time.Do not be late! If your child is worried about how he’s spending the holiday, rushing to get her to your ex’s will only increase her anxiety. And don’t purposely dawdle. It doesn’t matter how much you hate your ex; your children deserve to arrive to a holiday gathering – or an airport – on time. Remember: ruining the holiday for your ex will also ruin it for your kids.

 

  • Keep your feelings in check. No matter how sad or angry you may feel, you must pull yourself together before and during your placement exchange. This means no crying, no angry words with your ex, no hostile body language. Your composure will make the exchange easier on your kids. It will also model to them how to resolve conflict and manage tough situations. If you must fall apart, do it as you drive away or when you’re alone, or with your therapist.

 

  • Take care of yourself – Kids are often reflections of our own moods. If you can be calm, they’ll be more likely to be calm – and we all know the reverse is true too! So be kind to yourself. Exercise, eat healthy food, get good sleep, enjoy close friends, meditate, pray, relax.

 

  • Don’t prolong drop-off. If your kids are crying, do not use this as an opportunity either to gloat or to seek reassurance from them that they will miss you. Assure your children that you love them, wish them a happy holiday with your ex, and remind them when they will be with you next. Do NOT have a prolonged farewell! If they’re nervous or upset about their time away from you, engineering a long goodbye will only make them feel more anxious. You do not want to communicate, through words or body language, that this is a scary time, or that they have to tend to your feelings. An appropriate exit is much more tolerable for them than an angst-ridden, ambivalent one.

Try to take the high road. A smooth exchange will signal to your children that it’s okay to have a good time with their other parent. It doesn’t matter how big a jerk you think your ex is. Your children deserve to enjoy their holiday.

Above all, give your kids permission to love their other parent and their family. They are connected to their other family and your kids should not have to hide it from you.

If you need help with your custody issues, contact a family law attorney at Petit & Dommershausen, located in Menasha and Oshkosh.

You can reach our Fox Valley attorneys at 920-739-9900 or our Oshkosh attorneys at 920-231-0699.

Petit & Dommershausen wishes everyone a wonderful holiday season.

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My spouse is having an affair, can I file for divorce? Or maybe my spouse isn’t having affair, can I still file?

You absolutely can file for divorce in either circumstance, but infidelity (aka cheating spouse syndrome) is not a requirement for divorce in Wisconsin. Of course, infidelity can be the reason a spouse files for divorce, but the only required basis to file for divorce in Wisconsin is that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

When a marriage is irretrievably broken it simply means there is no chance at reconciliation or no likelihood of repairing the marital relationship. Whatever the reason may be that you are ending your marriage, so long as it isn’t something you both can move past and make work, you have grounds to file for divorce. Additionally, if a couple has lived separately for 12 months consecutively or continuously, the court will make an automatic finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Because there are no required grounds for filing divorce in Wisconsin we are considered a no fault divorce state. Neither spouse has to be sleeping around or doing anything wrong at all in order to initiate the process: “it’s just not working anymore” will suffice.

Thinking about filing? Going through a divorce or separation is a tough and emotional process, so let us help you through it. Contact Attorney Britteny LaFond at Petit & Dommershausen today at 920-739-9900 for a free consultation.

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Controlling Costs in a Divorce | Cost-Effective Divorce

TIPS TO CONTROL COSTS IN A DIVORCE

When you’re stuck in an emotional battle with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and it feels like money is flying out the door and the fees are mounting faster than the results. These tips will help you understand how to better manage your divorce so costs don’t skyrocket out of control. The number one reason that divorce fees get out of control is leading the fight with your heart instead of your head. The more your emotions get away from you, the more you fight and the more expensive your divorce will be. While you cannot control your spouse and they may be the primary reason that your divorce is costing so much particularly if your spouse is mentally ill, unwilling to compromise or just vindictive; however, they cannot continue the battle by themselves. While you may be playing a much, much smaller role than your spouse, you can take control of yourself and your actions.

A blog post by Attorney Tajara Dommershausen. Here are some practical steps to decrease the cost of your divorce:

Continue reading Controlling Costs in a Divorce | Cost-Effective Divorce

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Dads and Divorce | Child Custody | Divorce Lawyers

“A father’s love is just as important to a child’s development as a mother’s, and sometimes more so, suggests a new review of about 100 studies published between 1949 and 2001.

Researchers found that, overall, the love — or rejection — of mothers and fathers equally affects kids’ behavior, self-esteem, emotional stability, and mental health. “But in some cases, the withdrawal of a father’s love seems to play a bigger role in kids’ problems with personality and psychological adjustment, delinquency, and substance abuse,” says study coauthor Ronald P. Rohner, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. And for others, the presence of a father’s love may do more to boost children’s sense of well-being and improve their emotional and physical health.”

An excerpt from an article by Sandra Y. Lee – found on Parents.Com 

Continue reading Dads and Divorce | Child Custody | Divorce Lawyers