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).
Establishing paternity has many benefits outside child support, but proof of paternity is required to receive those benefits. Many of the benefits only come into play in the event of the father’s death, therefore you shouldn’t delay establishing legal fatherhood.
Social Security Benefits
Paternity must be established for a child to receive a Social Security benefit if a father dies before the child has attained age 18. Children are generally eligible for Social Security benefits if they are under 18 or under 19 and are enrolled in elementary, intermediate, or secondary school full time.