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Who Gets the Pets in a Wisconsin Divorce Case?

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many pet parents getting a divorce in Wisconsin, one of your primary concerns is what will happen to your four-, two- or no-legged family members. Pet custody is a real thing, and it’s been gaining steam across the U.S. – but what about Wisconsin? This guide explains pet custody and who gets the pets in a Wisconsin divorce.

Who Gets the Pets in a Wisconsin Divorce Case?

In the state of Wisconsin, pets are considered personal property. That means one of you – you or your soon-to-be ex-spouse – will typically be awarded the pets. However, judges are permitted to honor agreements that you and your ex make about pet visitation and custody.

Related: What to know before you get a divorce

If you and your ex can’t agree on what should happen with your pets, it makes sense to go to mediation to find common ground. There, you can reach an agreement that details the terms of your pet custody arrangement; you can even agree on who’s financially responsible for the pet, and which of you has the right to make major decisions regarding your pet’s health and well-being (including euthanasia when the time comes).

When you and your spouse reach an agreement about your pets, the court will likely incorporate it into your final judgment. That means the terms you agreed to become legally binding (and enforceable).

If you cannot agree, you may ask the judge to listen to evidence from both sides – including testimony on your bond with your pet, how much you’ve contributed to its care and upbringing, and who should be responsible for financial obligations related to the pet.

However, this all depends on the judge. Some judges only see pets as personal property and nothing more. If that happens in your case, provided that you and your spouse haven’t reached an agreement, the judge will determine where the pet goes.

Related: Divorce survival tips

Pro Tip: If you have children, you can treat the pet as the children’s property and determine that the family pet should go where the children go. The pet will visit with each parent at the same time as the kids do.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Pet Custody?

If you’re a divorcing pet parent, we may be able to help you. Although there’s no way to predict how a judge will rule, we can help you and your pet get the best possible outcome. Contact us at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation with a Wisconsin divorce lawyer now.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-09-19T14:40:52-05:00October 20th, 2021|Family Law|0 Comments

What Happens if You Don’t Make Alimony Payments in Wisconsin?

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, the judge in your divorce case has ordered you to pay alimony – sometimes called spousal support or spousal maintenance – to your former spouse. But what happens if you don’t pay alimony in Wisconsin? Will the courts come after you, garnish your wages, or hit you with criminal penalties? This guide explains.

What if You Don’t Pay Alimony in Wisconsin?

When a judge orders you to pay alimony, whether it’s through a stand-alone order (such as one issued during divorce proceedings) or through your marital settlement agreement, you have to do so – it’s a legally binding order.

If you fail to hold up your end of the bargain and make your alimony payments, your former spouse can bring up the matter with the judge in your case. The judge can then choose to order you to pay any outstanding amounts or order that you sell securities to make your payments. The judge might also enter a contempt of court order or order your employer to garnish your wages, as well.

What is a Contempt of Court Order?

If your ex’s attorney files a contempt motion, you’ll have to appear in court for a hearing. At your hearing, both you and your ex will have the opportunity to explain what’s going on. If the judge finds that you purposely avoided paying your alimony, they can order you to go to jail until you’ve paid the past-due amount in full. The judge can even order you to pay fines and your ex’s legal fees for having to take you to court to get payment.

Garnished Wages for Alimony

The judge may order your employer to take part of your earnings and send them to the court before you get your paychecks. The court gives that money to your ex-spouse.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Non-Payment of Alimony?

Whether your ex is accusing you of purposely failing to make your alimony payments or you’re the spouse who is supposed to receive them, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your free consultation.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:15:48-05:00September 1st, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on What Happens if You Don’t Make Alimony Payments in Wisconsin?

Can You Go to Jail for Kidnapping Your Own Child in Wisconsin?

By Carlos Gamino

In the state of Wisconsin, parental kidnapping is a crime that occurs when a parent imprisons, confines, or takes their child away from the child’s other parent – and it’s a serious one that could put you behind bars. Here’s what you need to know about kidnapping your own child in Wisconsin.

Can You Go to Jail for Kidnapping Your Own Child in Wisconsin?

Under Wisconsin law, kidnapping anyone (including your own child), is a Class C felony. The penalty for a Class C felony is up to 25 years in prison with up to 15 years of extended supervision, plus fines of up to $100,000.

Defining Parental Kidnapping in Wisconsin

The most common types of parental kidnapping cases in Wisconsin involve one parent taking children out of state, either for an extended vacation or to live permanently. Kidnapping as a Class C felony involves one parent who does not have parental rights to take the child.

However, it’s not always illegal for a parent to take kids out of the state; many custody agreements include information on trips or moves outside of Wisconsin.

Note: If you have full parental custody of your child, then you can’t be charged with parental kidnapping. That’s because nobody else has parental custody of your child – only you do – and you are entitled to make all the decisions regarding where your child lives and spends his or her time.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Parental Kidnapping Charges?

You may need to speak with an attorney if you’re facing parental kidnapping charges. Your attorney may be able to defend you and help you get the best possible outcome.

Call us at 414-383-6700 to talk about your case during a free consultation. We can give you the answers you need and build a strategy to represent you in court.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T08:46:40-05:00August 25th, 2021|Criminal Law, Family Law|Comments Off on Can You Go to Jail for Kidnapping Your Own Child in Wisconsin?

What’s the Best Placement Schedule for Your Family?

By Carlos Gamino

Physical placement refers to how much time your kids spend with you and your ex. When your children are with you, you have the right to make routine decisions about their daily care; likewise, when they’re with your ex, your ex has that right. But how do you make a physical placement plan that works for your whole family – and what’s the best physical placement schedule? This guide explains.

Related: Child custody FAQ

What’s the Best Placement Schedule for Your Family?

The best placement schedule for your family is one that:

  • Meets your children’s best interests
  • Minimizes disruption to all of your lives
  • Is convenient and flexible

With that said, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every family. Families with younger kids may have completely different needs from families that have teenagers, for example. However, the most common physical placement arrangements include:

  • Wednesdays and every other weekend. In this type of plan, kids spend most days with Parent A, except for Wednesday evenings and every other weekend (Friday night through Sunday night). They spend those days with Parent B.
  • 2-2-3 plans. In a 2-2-3 plan, kids spend two days with Parent A, two days with Parent B, and three days with Parent A before the schedule starts over with Parent B. This ensures that the children have alternating three-day periods with each parent and guarantees both parents get some weekend time.
  • Alternating week plans. In alternating week plans, children spend one week with Parent A, then one week with Parent B. The parents switch each week, making adjustments for holidays and special occasions.

Every family’s needs are different, though, and your child custody attorney can help you develop a plan that will work for your family.

Related: Custody versus physical placement

Working With Your Spouse on the Best Placement Plan

You and your spouse should negotiate to reach an agreement that meets your kids’ best interests (rather than yours), and if you’re having a hard time finding common ground, you may wish to work with a mediator who can help.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About a Child Placement Plan?

If you’re divorcing or splitting up from your partner and need to speak with an attorney about creating a child placement plan, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation now.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:17:53-05:00August 16th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on What’s the Best Placement Schedule for Your Family?

Explaining Divorce to a Preschooler

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Telling your children you’re divorcing their other parent is never easy, and kids of different ages – and of different personality types – will take the news differently. So how do you explain divorce to a preschooler? This guide offers some helpful tips.

How to Explain Divorce to a Preschooler

If you’re like most parents, your primary concern is your child’s well-being – and that may mean that you’re agonizing over how to tell your little one that you and their other parent are splitting up. The bottom line is that preschoolers don’t understand the idea of divorce, and they generally don’t want their parents to separate (even if there’s a lot of family tension, fighting and arguing). Preschoolers are just learning about control (and how they can exert control over their own environments), so the thought of being out of control can be stressful, frightening and confusing for them.

Related: What to know before you divorce

Preschoolers may feel uncertain about the future when their parents divorce, so you should give them as much comfort as possible. Reassure your child that no matter what happens between you and your spouse, you’ll both always love and parent your child.

It’s also a good idea for you and your spouse to sit down together to answer your child’s questions, as well as to discuss his or her feelings. Often, preschool-aged kids reflect their parents’ moods and attitudes, so they’ll take cues from you and your spouse on how to act – and that means remaining calm and confident whenever your child wants to talk about the split.

Related: How does divorce affect kids?

Sometimes books can help preschoolers cope, too. Two Homes by Claire Masurel, My Family’s Changing by Pat Thomas, and Standing on My Own Two Feet by Tamara Schmitz may all be helpful for your child.

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Divorce Attorney?

If you’re contemplating divorce and aren’t sure where to start, or if you have specific questions, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to speak with an attorney about your situation. We can give you the case-specific legal advice you need to begin moving forward with your life.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-08-08T14:18:18-05:00July 20th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on Explaining Divorce to a Preschooler

Can You Withhold Child Support in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you know someone who has withheld child support from an ex in the past – maybe the ex wouldn’t let your friend see his or her kids, or perhaps the payer didn’t feel like the recipient was doing the right thing with the money – but is it ever okay (or even legal) to withhold child support in the state of Wisconsin? Here’s what you need to know.

When is it Okay to Withhold Child Support in Wisconsin?

The absolute only time it’s okay to withhold child support in Wisconsin is when you have a court order stating that you don’t have to pay it. If you fail to pay, you will face serious legal consequences.

The Penalties for Withholding Child Support in Wisconsin

If you withhold child support despite having a court order that says you’re supposed to pay it, the child support agency can ask the court to hold a contempt hearing. During your contempt hearing, the court will determine whether you could have paid child support but chose not to. If the judge in your case finds you guilty of being able to pay but refusing, he or she can hold you in contempt of court. That means you’re guilty of the crime of failing to follow a court order – and you could go to jail over it.

However, the judge doesn’t have to send you to jail; he or she may set “purge conditions,” which are conditions you can meet to avoid going to jail. Usually, in cases like these, the purge conditions involve paying an amount of money toward your past-due child support amount.

Your child’s other parent – the one who is supposed to receive child support – may decide to file a complaint with the district attorney. (The child support agency may also refer case to the district attorney.) The district attorney will decide whether or not to take the case, and you could be charged with the crime of criminal nonsupport.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Child Support?

If you’re experiencing issues with child support – either receiving it or paying it – we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your consultation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-08-08T14:31:59-05:00June 13th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on Can You Withhold Child Support in Wisconsin?

Child Custody FAQ

By Carlos Gamino

Child custody can be a difficult issue for divorcing parents – you both want what’s best for your kids, but you may have a tough time seeing eye-to-eye on what that is. Check out this child custody FAQ to get some answers, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for here, feel free to call us at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to get you the answers you need.

Child Custody FAQ

Some of the most common questions we hear about child custody include:

  • What makes a parent unfit for custody?
  • What should you not do in a child custody case?
  • What questions does a judge ask a child in a custody case?
  • What kind of evidence do I need for child custody?
  • Can text messages be used in court for custody?

Here’s a closer look at each.

What Makes a Parent Unfit for Custody?

Some things can make a parent unfit for child custody – particularly when that parent’s conduct fails to provide proper care, guidance or support to the child. Abuse, neglect and substance abuse issues can also make a parent unfit for child custody. Every case is different, so if you suspect that your ex is unfit to parent your children, you should speak to a Wisconsin divorce and child custody attorney immediately.

What Should You NOT Do in a Child Custody Case?

You should never do anything that jeopardizes your ability to parent your children during a child custody case (or at any other time, for that matter). You should also avoid:

  • Verbal or physical confrontations with your ex
  • Introducing a new partner to your children
  • Criticizing your kids’ other parent to family, friends, or worse, to the children
  • Failing to make your child support payments
  • Letting your children down – when you say you’ll be there, be there
  • Preventing your children from seeing their other parent

Related: Wisconsin child custody laws

What Questions Does a Judge Ask in a Custody Case?

Most child custody cases are settled between parents. However, a small fraction of cases go to trial – and in those cases, a judge decides where children will spend most of their time. If your case goes to trial because you and your ex can’t agree on what’s best for your children, the judge will likely ask you several questions, including:

  • Which of you has been the kids’ primary caretaker?
  • What kind of stability can you provide for your child in your home?
  • How will you foster a loving relationship between your kids and their other parent?

Your attorney will submit documentation that helps you get the best possible outcome, and he or she will also help you prepare to go to court. However, it’s almost always in your best interest to try to work out a custody agreement with your ex rather than going to trial.

Related: Child placement laws in Wisconsin

What Kind of Evidence Do I Need for Child Custody?

Your attorney will tell you what kind of evidence you need for your child custody case, which may include things like voicemail messages, emails, text messages, video and audio recordings, and police reports. Every case is different, so we can’t give you a specific list here – but we can tell you after we’ve learned more about your personal situation.

Can Text Messages Be Used in Court for Custody?

Text messages can, and often are, used in court for child custody disputes. Our advice: Never, ever put anything in writing that you may later regret. And if you have something in writing from your ex, don’t delete it.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Child Custody?

If you’re a divorcing parent, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 right now to schedule your free consultation. We’ll ask you some questions (and answer your questions) so you and your kids can start moving forward.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:01:28-05:00May 17th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on Child Custody FAQ

What Types of Restraining Orders Can You Get in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

The state of Wisconsin seeks to protect people from domestic violence, harassment and abuse – and one of the ways it does that is through restraining orders. Restraining orders are legal documents that prohibit someone from behaving a certain way. Most commonly, restraining orders are used to prevent one person from contacting another person, but there are several types of these orders available to victims of abuse.

What Types of Restraining Orders Can You Get in Wisconsin?

You can ask a judge to give you a restraining order for:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Harassment
  • Individuals at risk
  • Child abuse

Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders

You can request a domestic abuse restraining order if you:

  • Are related by blood
  • Have been married or are currently married to the abuser
  • Have a child with the abuser
  • Live with the abuser or are dating the abuser
  • Receive inhome or community care from the abuser
  • Are under the guardianship of the abuser
  • Petition, as a guardian, on behalf of a person being abused under any of these criteria

Harassment Restraining Orders

You can seek a restraining order based on harassment if you’re a victim of someone else doing the following things to you:

  • Hitting or striking
  • Shoving
  • Kicking
  • Subjecting you to physical contact
  • Attempting or threatening to subject you to physical contact
  • Engaging in, threatening or attempting to engage in an act of child abuse, sexual assault or stalking
  • Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts that harass or intimidate you that serve no legitimate purpose

Restraining Orders for Individuals at Risk

You can petition the court for a restraining order as an individual at risk (or on behalf of an individual at risk) if you are an adult who has a physical or mental condition that impairs your (or his or her) ability to take care of yourself (or him- or herself). You can also file as, or on behalf of, a person 60 or older who has experienced, is experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect or self-neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Treatment without consent
  • Unreasonable confinement or restraint
  • Financial exploitation by someone who has, or who may, interfere with an investigation, delivery of services or protective services, or placement

Child Abuse Restraining Orders

Children, parents, stepparents, legal guardians and guardians ad litem can petition the court for a child abuse restraining order for many reasons, including when a child has:

  • Been permitted, allowed or encouraged to violate prostitution laws
  • Forced to view sexually explicit activity
  • Had physical injury inflicted upon him or her by other than accidental means
  • Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation
  • Suffered emotional damage
  • Suffered exposure of genital or pubic areas

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About the Types of Restraining Orders Available to You?

If you aren’t sure what type of restraining orders are available to you, or what you should do in the event that you’ve been harmed or threatened – or that someone you care about has been harmed or threatened – we may be able to help. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to learn about your options.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:17:33-05:00April 19th, 2021|Criminal Law, Family Law|Comments Off on What Types of Restraining Orders Can You Get in Wisconsin?

What to Know Before Getting a Divorce

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people contemplating divorce, you know that it pays to prepare – but where do you even begin? Check out these three things you should know before you divorce your spouse; they may surprise you.

What to Know Before Getting a Divorce

Divorce is one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through, and because you’ll most likely be making the decision during a time of emotional upheaval, it’s easy to let logic fall by the wayside. However, there are three things you need to know before you split from your spouse:

  1. Divorce isn’t a “win or lose” proposition
  2. The legal system isn’t built for revenge
  3. You must be financially prepared to leave

Here’s a closer look at each.

#1. Divorce Isn’t a Win-or-Lose Proposition

There are two types of divorce: Successful and unsuccessful. That doesn’t mean that it’s a win-or-lose situation, though – nobody “wins” or “loses.” It does mean, however, that you can have a successful or unsuccessful divorce. A successful divorce is one in which you walk away reasonably satisfied with the outcome, and the outcome sets you up for a successful future.

Related: Cooperating with your spouse during divorce

#2. The Legal System Isn’t Built for Revenge

When you divorce your spouse, what you’re really doing is dissolving a legal partnership. It’s fine to be angry with your soon-to-be ex, but it’s not fine to try to use the legal system to get vengeance. The courts simply aren’t set up that way, so don’t think that you’re going to “take him for all he’s worth” or “prevent her from getting a cent,” regardless of what your spouse did during your marriage. The law looks at divorce like a business transaction; both parties are entitled to walk away with a fair and reasonable outcome.

#3. You Must Be Financially Prepared to Leave

Going from a dual-income household to a single-income household is an adjustment, even if you make a significant enough amount of money that you don’t need any from your spouse. Depending on your situation, you may need to find a new place to live; you’ll certainly be responsible for your own living expenses (unless a judge orders spousal support, and even then, it’s not unlimited), and you’ll have to adjust your schedule to meet your children’s needs. It’s absolutely essential that you’re financially prepared before you file for divorce.

Related: The effects of divorce on kids

Do You Need to Talk to a Divorce Attorney?

If you’re thinking about divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk about your case – we’ll answer your questions and give you the guidance you need.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:28:35-05:00March 28th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on What to Know Before Getting a Divorce

What Happens if You Divorce Before Getting a Green Card?

By Carlos Gamino

When you marry a U.S. citizen, you’re entitled to a green card. Your green card allows you to live and work anywhere in the United States. But what happens if you divorce before getting a green card? Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens if You Divorce Before Getting a Green Card?

Divorce can affect your green card status, but it depends on what stage of the process you’re currently in when you choose to split from your spouse. You’ll have a different outcome if you divorce:

  • After you apply, but before you receive your green card
  • After you receive a conditional green card
  • After you have the conditions removed from your green card

Divorce After Applying for, but Before Receiving, a Green Card

If you divorce before the U.S. government approves your green card, your entire immigration process comes to a halt. Your divorce ends the relationship that made you eligible for a green card, so you can’t continue your application.

Related: New green card rules

Divorce With a Conditional Green Card

If you’ve been married for fewer than two years and still have conditions on your green card, your divorce can affect the process. You’ll most likely have to work with your Wisconsin immigration attorney to ask the government to waive the joint filing requirement, and you’ll have to prove that you entered into your marriage in good faith (rather than simply for the immigration benefit).

Related: What is a green card through registry?

Divorce With a Conditions Removed From Your Green Card

If you no longer have conditions on your green card and divorce your spouse, there’s a good chance that your process will be unaffected. You can typically remain in the U.S. on your green card and renew it when necessary. You can even change your name on your green card after filing the appropriate forms. However, you do need to know that if you later apply for citizenship, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services will reevaluate your entire case.

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Immigration Attorney About Your Green Card?

If you’re an immigrant considering divorce, we may be able to help you – both with the divorce and with your immigration process. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to talk to someone who can answer your questions and help you start moving forward in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:33:05-05:00March 8th, 2021|Family Law, Immigration Law|Comments Off on What Happens if You Divorce Before Getting a Green Card?