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Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

A judge or circuit court commissioner may grant an injunction, also known as a restraining order, that orders a person to refrain from committing acts of domestic abuse against the petitioner, to avoid the petitioner’s residence, or any other location temporarily occupied by the petitioner or both, or other remedies under law.

A Court may grant such an injunction if all of the following occur:1. The petitioner files a petition alleging the necessary elements 2. The petitioner serves upon the respondent a copy or summary of the petition and notice of the time for hearing on the issuance of the injunction, or the respondent serves upon the petitioner notice of the time for hearing on the issuance of the injunction.3. After hearing, the judge or circuit court commissioner finds reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent has engaged in, or based upon prior conduct of the petitioner and the respondent may engage in, domestic abuse of the petitioner.

What is domestic abuse?

Wisconsin Statutes for the Entry of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order provide the following definitions. 

“Domestic abuse” means any of the following engaged in by an adult family member or adult household member against another adult family member or adult household member, by an adult caregiver against an adult who is under the caregiver’s care, by an adult against his or her adult former spouse, by an adult against an adult with whom the individual has or had a dating relationship, or by an adult against an adult with whom the person has a child in common:1. Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness.2. Intentional impairment of physical condition.3. A violation of s. 940.225 (1)(2) or (3).4. A violation of s. 940.32.5. A violation of s. 943.01, involving property that belongs to the individual.6. A threat to engage in the conduct under subd. 1.2.3.4., or 5.(b)

“Dating relationship” means a romantic or intimate social relationship between 2 adult individuals but “dating relationship” does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary fraternization between 2 individuals in a business or social context. A court shall determine if a dating relationship existed by considering the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, and the frequency of the interaction between the adult individuals involved in the relationship.

“Family member” means a spouse, a parent, a child or a person related by blood or adoption to another person.(c) 

“Household member” means a person currently or formerly residing in a place of abode with another person.(ce) 

“Reasonable grounds” means more likely than not that a specific event has occurred or will occur.(cj) 

Do you need legal assistance with a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

Attorney Nathan J. Wojan and the rest of the legal team at Petit & Dommershausen is here to help. Call 920-739-9900 for your confidential consultation. We have assisted many people through these difficult proceedings and we can help you.

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Paternity Law In Wisconsin

DECLARATION OF PATERNAL INTEREST

Don’t let your parental rights be terminated without your knowledge!!

Do you believe someone you slept with could be carrying your child?  If so, do you want to be notified if the mom is making the important decision to give the child up for adoption? If the answer is yes, you must file a declaration of paternal interest which can be found at: https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/files/forms/pdf/0019a.pdf

This declaration can be filed as soon as you suspect a child could have been conceived but it must be filed either 1) before the birth of the child  2) within 14 days after the birth of the child or 3) if the possible father receives notice under Wisconsin Statute 48.42(1g)(b) that the mother of a child under the age of one is seeking to voluntarily terminate her parental rights and has identified him as the father. 

If it is not filed, any potential father’s rights could be terminated and the child could be placed for adoption with only a tiny notice published in a local paper!

This filing is confidential and can only be used by children’s court proceedings.

Filing a declaration of paternal interest does not establish parental rights to a child. The potential father will need to take further action to establish and protect his rights and responsibilities as a father!!

Need help?? Contact Petit & Dommershausen today at 920-739-9900!

With three convenient locations in Oshkosh, Appleton 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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Grandparents Rights

Grandparent Rights in Wisconsin

Most states allow at least some form of grandparent visitation, after a determination as to whether scuh visitation is in the best interests of the child. This inquiry can vary vastly from county to county and Judge to Judge. At Petit & Dommershausen, we guide you thru the process to get grandparents a great outcome.  Learn more about Grandparent’s Rights below.

Grandparent Visitation

Parents have fundamental rights to raise their children as they see fit, as long as the children’s basic emotional and physical needs are being met. However, in certain circumstances, Wisconsin law allows grandparents to have reasonable visitation with a grandchild, even if it’s against the parent’s wishes.

A grandparent must file a petition requesting visitation with the court. A judge will schedule a hearing to review the circumstances of the case and allow the child’s parents to respond.

All of the following factors must be present for a judge to grant grandparent visitation:

• the child’s parents are not married, or were married but have subsequently divorced, separated or one parent is deceased
• the child isn’t adopted (to non-family members)
• the grandparent has maintained a relationship with the child, or has attempted to maintain a relationship but was prevented by the parent
• the grandparent is unlikely to act counter to the parent’s decisions regarding the child’s emotional physical, educational or spiritual welfare, and
• that grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interests. Most of the time a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed to advise the Judge as to what they think is in the best interests of the child.
Wisconsin courts require all the above elements to be met for grandparent visitation to occur. Grandparent visitation is almost always granted in cases where grandparents have had a strong relationship with the child and death or divorce has disrupted the child’s nuclear family unit.
The Court will then determine a reasonable amount of visitation. What constitutes “reasonable visitation” will depend on the unique circumstances of your case.

When Can Grandparents Get Guardianship of a Grandchild?

In some cases, a grandparent may be able to obtain guardianship over a child’s natural parent when it’s necessary to protect the child’s safety or well-being and the parents are unfit to meet the child’s needs.

A court may only award guardianship to a child’s grandparent if the following are true:

• granting guardianship to the grandparent would serve the child’s best interests, and
• the parent is unfit or unable to adequately care for the child, or there are other compelling reasons for awarding guardianship to a grandparent.

The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Petit & Dommershausen, S.C. can help you thru this difficult process. Call Attorney Tajara Dommershausen today to learn more about your rights and get the help you need.

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Back to School Tips for Divorcing Parents

As the school year begins again, co-parenting issues often come to a boiling point.  Here are some tips to try and co-parent in a more effective and efficient manner in the days ahead. Otherwise, you and your ex will be in and out of court asking the court to order solutions which cause your child will suffer feeling the stress from disagreeing parents. The goal is making school go as smoothly as possible for your child.

  1. Use a shared calendar. It can be a google calendar, through Our Family Wizardor any other calendar that works for you. Through the shared calendar you can share information about extracurricular activities and school project deadlines. If you do not have the same weekdays each week you can mark when sneakers are needed for gym class and what day their library book needs to be returned.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the electronic communication options with the school. Most school districts around here have online portals with your child’s information. Try to get two separate logins. If only one login is allowed, share the password with the other parent so you both can receive the information directly. It is better to have equal access than to be responsible for communicating the information directly. This way each parent is responsible for getting their own information and cannot accuse you of withholding information.
  3. Let the teacher know both parents’ email addresses. Ask them to email both of you when sending out announcements or emails about any concerns they have about your child. Copy the other parent on your communications back to the teacher.
  4. Prepare your child’s teacher. Before the first day of school, and to minimize confusion and uncomfortable remarks, inform your child’s teachers of their family situation. Give them an overview of the child’s routines—who’ll be dropping them off and picking them up on which days, and where they’ll be staying each night. Giving teachers this information up front not only provides them with some context for any emotional issues that may come up, but it also allows them to plan ahead. Perhaps they’ll proceed with more sensitivity when it comes to those “My Family” projects that can sometimes be painful for kids of divorce.
  5. Let the other parent know when your child is home sick and whether any make-up work needs to be coordinated.
  6. Try to attend parent-teacher conferences together. While sometimes this is not possible because the parents cannot get along well enough to be in the same room and the conference will not be productive, if you can, attend the conference together so that both parents can be on the same page and can hear the teacher’s response to each of the parent’s concerns.
  7. Discuss school projects and who is going to take the lead on what part of the project. Lack of coordination puts stress on the child (and each parent’s household). The child suffers the most in this situation.
  8. Be proactive. If you see a slip in grades or any other changes in your child that you think may be associated with the situation at home, talk to the school guidance counselor and consider counseling for the child and/or co-parenting counseling for the parents.
  9. Take your past issues out of equation. This is not about you, it is about your child and their successful school year.

Need help with your custody and placement issues?  Contact Petit & Dommershausen today 920-739-9900! With three convenient locations in Oshkosh, Appleton 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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Trying to Move with Joint Custody of a Child?

Parents Should Know

In Wisconsin, if parents share custody and physical placement, you have to provide the other parent with at least 60 days’ written notice if you want to move out of state with the child, move at least 150 miles away from the other parent within the state, or take the child out of state for at least 90 days.

Once the initial notice is provided, the other parent can choose whether or not to object.  If an objection is made, the matter will likely be referred to mediation to try and resolve the dispute.  While the dispute is ongoing, the child cannot be moved unless the court grants permission through a temporary order.  If the dispute still cannot be resolved, the parent opposing the move can file a petition, motion, or order to show cause to modify custody or physical placement of the child, and the court will hold a hearing to determine whether the change is in the best interests of the child.

If the parent seeking to move with the child already has primary physical placement, the court will additionally look at whether or not the proposed move will result in a substantial change in circumstances since the last court order involving placement.  If the parents share substantially equal physical placement, the court will look at whether circumstances make it impractical to continue the current arrangement.

In order to make these determinations, courts are directed to look at specific criteria: whether the purpose of the proposal is reasonable, the child’s relationship with the parent that is objecting to the move and how it would be affected, and the availability of alternate arrangements to continue the child’s relationship with the objecting parent.  The court will also have the option to consider how the child would adjust to the move in terms of the child’s new home, school, religion, and community.

 

If you have further questions related to child custody issues and are seeking legal representation, please contact our firm for a consultation.

 

Attorney Brian Kane practices criminal defense and family law at the Oshkosh office of Petit & Dommershausen, S.C., located at 2001 Bowen Street, Oshkosh, WI 54901.  He can be reached at (920) 231-0699 or briankane@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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What is a prenuptial agreement and should you have one?

Do you know someone in Wisconsin who is engaged or married? Have you talked to them about a prenuptial agreement? Attorneys from Oshkosh and the Fox Valley can guide you in the right direction. A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that two people negotiate and sign with a view toward what would happen if the marriage ends by divorce, separation or death. Before getting married, and even after, you should consider your legal options. It is commonly mistaken that prenuptial agreements, otherwise known as “prenups,” are only for those who are wealthy. No matter how much money or assets you have, a prenup is in fact a useful tool that can protect you and your (future) spouse.

There are many elements to be considered in a prenuptial agreement. In Wisconsin, if you and your spouse acquire property during marriage, a judge will apply statutory guidelines to divide that property in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also contain provisions about child support and custody. If a couple divorces and decides to abide by the terms of the agreement, then they can self enforce the provision on child custody and support. However, if the parties end up disagreeing, a judge will disregard the portions that refer to custody and support in the agreement. Our skilled Fox Valley and Oshkosh attorneys are here to help you.

A prenup can provide a way of avoiding lengthy or expensive legal disputes, pre-determining the division of a couple’s property, including things such as land, retirement accounts, jewelry, or automobiles. A prenuptial agreement can be applied to any couple. If one or both of you are bringing a lot of debt into the marriage, one or both of you are bringing property into the marriage, one of you is much wealthier or poorer than the other, or if one or both of you is remarrying or has children, getting a prenup is of greater importance.  Each spouse should retain his or her own attorney to review and negotiate the prenuptial agreement. You and your spouse cannot share a lawyer, or the agreement won’t be legally enforceable. It is permissible for one party to be represented by an attorney, even if the other party is not. After you are married, you can still revise a prenuptial agreement and it will be called a postnuptial agreement. Both parties have to agree to the changes, and the new agreement must be in writing.

If you have any questions about whether you should enter into a prenuptial agreement, contact a family law attorney here at Petit & Dommershausen, located in Menasha and Oshkosh, for advice. You can reach our Fox Valley attorneys at 920-739-9900 or our Oshkosh attorneys at 920-231-0699.