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School District Choice: Who makes it?

So, you and your significant other separated and have a joint custody/joint placement order. Sharing placement has been relatively calm but now your child needs to start school.  The two of  you live in different school districts so who gets to choose the school district?

Under Wisconsin statutes, joint legal custody means that the parents share major decision making. Neither parent’s rights are superior. Major decisions include consent to marry, consent to enter military service, consent to obtain a driver’s license, authorize non-emergency healthcare, choice of school, and choice of religion. The presumption in Wisconsin is that joint legal custody is in the best interest of your child.

The sooner you start this discussion with your former significant other, the better. August is not the time to start discussing this. Most counties will require the parents to go to mediation first. Mediation is with a neutral third party who tries to help you work through the issues that you are having. This is the least expensive alternative. If at mediation you cannot reach an agreement, a motion will need to be filed with the court.

The court does not decide which school the child will go to; however, the court does decide which parent gets the right to make that choice. After a motion is filed, it will be set for an initial hearing. If you have already been to mediation on the issue, the court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem. A Guardian ad Litem is an attorney who does an investigation and looks into the best interest of your child and makes a recommendation to the court. If, after a Guardian ad Litem recommendation, the parties can reach an agreement or the court makes an order. If the parties are in disagreement with that order, the matter can be set for a trial. Mediation can often take a few months as can the Guardian ad Litem process. Therefore, the sooner this important decision is discussed and a motion filed, the better off you and your child will be.

If you need help with this process, 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 do 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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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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