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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:

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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 

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Divorce Residency Rules

You must be a resident to file for Divorce in Wisconsin

30 days hath September, April, June and…the residency requirement for Divorce filing!

If you are filing for divorce or legal separation in the State of Wisconsin, you or your future ex-spouse must be a resident of the county where you file your action for at least 30 days before you file. One of you must also have lived in the State of Wisconsin for 6 months before filing; however, you may be able to file a legal separation after 30 days. This is important to keep in mind if you are planning to file for divorce or legal separation and both spouses are moving out of the marital residence. If both of you move to a new county, neither of you can file the divorce until you’ve resided in your new county for at least 30 days.

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Reconciliation | Can a Divorce be stopped or paused?!? YES

Attempting Reconciliation? We don’t want to get divorced anymore! Or maybe we do?
Did you know that you and your spouse can agree to suspend your divorce proceeding or put it on hold while you try to work out your problems? Or get counseling? It is not uncommon for clients and their spouse to attempt a reconciliation. The divorce process can be very emotionally trying, and it can be even more difficult if you are attempting a reconciliation when you have court deadlines staring you down.

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Selecting the RIGHT Divorce Attorney

Assisting you to ensure you protect yourself and your family while dealing with a divorce.

Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney

Many times, potential clients call to ask whether or not they need an attorney. Our standard response is that while that is your decision, divorce can have many ramifications for your financial and emotional well-being including dividing assets, bills and personal property; the awarding of maintenance (i.e. spousal support or alimony), child custody and child placement that a skilled attorney or mediator can help resolve. Although friends and relatives may have good intentions, their advice is without proper training and is likely to be inaccurate even when based upon their personal experiences. Circumstances in their cases may have been far different from those in your case or the laws may have changed since their divorce. It is like using another’s eyeglasses–they rarely fit properly. Make sure you are comfortable with the attorney you chose as they will help guide you thru one of the hardest times of your life.

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Do I have to go to mediation? And why do I have to take a parenting class first?

I have had many parents ask me why they have to participate in mediation. They often explain that they have not been able to reach an agreement with their child’s other parent on their own, and therefore mediation just won’t work. What those parents don’t realize, and what I explain to them, is that Wisconsin’s family court laws have made mediation the required first step.  Wisconsin Statute 767.405(5) directs that a court must refer parents with placement and custody disputes to their county’s mediation program.  In addition, parents are required to attend a parenting class, which usually doubles as the mediation orientation session. The focus of this programming is often related to co-parenting communication and explanations of how the mediation process works.   Though you should not agree to any custody arrangements you can’t deal with for at least a couple years, most of the local counties have very high rates of successfully getting parents to an agreement.   There are only limited circumstances in which you can bypass the mediation process and proceed directly to a GAL (guardian ad litem).

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10 Things You Need to Know About Divorce and Taxes

Important Tax Information While Going Through Divorce

1. 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.

2. Consider the tax implications of support. Child support is not deductible to the person who pays it, but maintenance is. Likewise, 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.

3. 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.

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