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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 |2021-01-17T07:02:55-06:00March 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 |2021-01-17T07:11:39-06:00March 8th, 2021|Family Law, Immigration Law|Comments Off on What Happens if You Divorce Before Getting a Green Card?

How to Tell Kids About Divorce

By Carlos Gamino

As a parent, divorcing your spouse is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do – next to breaking the news to your children. Here’s how to tell kids about divorce and how to encourage them to share their feelings.

How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Leading psychologists agree that the vast majority of children can weather the storm of divorce and come out just fine on the other side – but that doesn’t stop parents from worrying about missteps along the way. How you tell your children about your divorce can set the tone for the rest of the process (and beyond), so it’s incredibly important that you approach the situation properly.

With that said, kids of different ages need to be told in different ways. Ideally, though, you and your spouse will sit the whole family down together and break the news – and you’ll both reassure them that you love them no matter what happens. You’ll also tell them that you’ll both be there for them to talk, answer questions and provide comfort.

Related: The effects of divorce on kids

Tips for How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Although we can’t tell you exactly what to say, because you know your children (and how they’ll respond) best, we can give you these guidelines:

  • Plan what you’ll say ahead of time. Don’t hold a spur-of-the-moment family meeting; instead, talk to your spouse about what you’re going to say (and what you’re not going to say), and plan on a response to use if you don’t know the answer to something.
  • Talk to your kids together. If possible – and certainly only in the absence of domestic violence – you and your spouse should sit down with the children together. Presenting a united front now can make things easier on them.
  • Don’t assign blame. Your kids love you both equally, and it hurts them if you blame each other. Don’t point the finger at the other party, no matter who’s at fault for your divorce.
  • Tell your kids – without details – what’s happening. Kids need to know that they’ll be living in two separate homes and that you’ll no longer be married, but they don’t need to hear any grisly details. Those are for adults only, and telling your children why you’re divorcing (outside the fact that you can’t repair your relationship or that you both want different things from your lives) will make them want to take sides; that can be psychologically harmful.
  • Explain that some things will change while others remain the same. Kids are primarily interested in how your divorce will affect them, so tell them what will change and what will remain the same. You can talk about school, where the kids will live, how they’ll be able to see their friends and other issues that matter to them – and above all, let them know your love for them will never change.
  • Reassure your kids. Your kids need to know that you’ll be there for them, no matter what – and now is the best time to tell them.

Related: Keeping your kids out of your divorce

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Divorce Attorney?

If you’re considering divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we may be able to help you get the best possible outcome. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to discuss your case – we’ll give you the guidance you need.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T07:09:03-06:00February 7th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Can You Date While Separated From Your Spouse in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you’re wondering if you can date while you’re separated from your spouse. After all, many people are separated for quite some time while they wait to finalize a divorce – but is it legal? Could there be unintended consequences? Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Date While Separated From Your Spouse in Wisconsin?

There’s no law that says you can’t date someone else while you’re separated from your spouse, but it’s important that you know it can still affect the outcome of your case. It’s best to refrain from dating anyone until your divorce is final.

Related: Separation agreements and Wisconsin law

How Can Dating Someone Affect Your Divorce?

The courts have one primary interest in a divorce case – at least one with children – and that’s to ensure that the children’s best interests are being served. If you start dating someone during your divorce, the court can think that being around that person is unhealthy for the kids. It can affect child custody in some ways. If you live with someone, it could also affect the amount of spousal support you get (if it’s awarded in your case).

Should You Date While You’re Separated From Your Spouse?

Aside from the ways that dating can affect the outcome of your divorce, it’s typically still a bad idea. You’re under a lot of stress (and so are your kids), which means dating is probably not the best thing you can do for yourself or your family. It’s a good idea to stay single, focus on your future, and hold off on finding a new partner until your divorce has been finalized in court.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Divorce?

If you’re considering divorce, you may want to schedule some time to talk to an attorney. We will be happy to answer your questions, talk to you about possible outcomes, and help you develop a strategy that best protects your future.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:44:29-06:00January 25th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on Can You Date While Separated From Your Spouse in Wisconsin?

CHIPS in Wisconsin

What is CHIPS in Wisconsin - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

The state of Wisconsin has protections in place for juveniles who need help, and special court cases – called CHIPS cases – are opened to provide special services for kids. CHIPS stands for child in need of protection and/or services, and these cases are available until children reach the legal age of responsibility. Until that time, kids depend on adults for care and protection.

When parents can’t – or won’t – properly care for their children, the juvenile court may step in. That can happen in parent and guardian cases, as well as neglect and abuse cases.

CHIPS in Parent and Guardian Cases

CHIPS in parent and guardian cases typically involve children:

  • Who don’t have a parent or guardian
  • Whose parent or guardian has petitioned the court for help with the child’s care
  • Who petition the court for themselves
  • With inadequate care from a parent
  • Who have been abandoned

CHIPS in Neglect and Abuse Cases

CHIPS in neglect and abuse cases typically involve kids who:

  • Have been abuse victims in the past
  • Are at-risk for abuse
  • Have been placed for care or adoption unlawfully
  • Have been neglected or who are at substantial risk for neglect
  • Are suffering from emotional damage or an alcohol or drug abuse impairment
  • Have not been immunized as required by law

How Does a CHIPS Case Start?

Typically, a CHIPS case begins when someone makes a report of abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services or Social Services. A caseworker will evaluate the situation and see if the report appears to be valid; if he or she doesn’t find any safety issues, the case can be closed. If the case worker does find safety issues, he or she will document the issues and file a petition.

Are CHIPS Court Hearings Confidential?

CHIPS court hearings are confidential, which means it’s probably in your best interest to have an attorney represent you.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a CHIPS Case?

If you’re involved – or about to become involved – in a CHIPS case, call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney as soon as possible. We may be able to help.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T15:22:34-05:00November 17th, 2020|Family Law, Juvenile Law|Comments Off on CHIPS in Wisconsin

Does Cheating Affect Alimony in a Wisconsin Divorce?

Does Cheating Affect Alimony in a Wisconsin Divorce - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you don’t have to prove that your spouse is guilty of something in order to get a divorce. (Your spouse doesn’t have to say that you’re guilty of something, either.) However, if your spouse cheated – or if you did – will that affect alimony (technically called spousal support) in your case? Here’s what you need to know.

Does Cheating Affect Alimony in a Wisconsin Divorce?

You don’t have to prove fault to get a divorce, but if your spouse cheats on you (or if you’re caught cheating), it can affect some aspects of your divorce. Alimony is not one of them, though. Wisconsin courts are not allowed to consider infidelity when making an alimony award. Instead, judges can consider:

  • How long you were married
  • Each spouse’s age and emotional health
  • How your property is divided in your divorce
  • Both spouses’ educational levels at the time of the marriage compared to the time of the divorce
  • How much money each spouse has the capacity to earn through educational background, employment skills, work experience, length of time unemployed during the marriage and responsibilities toward kids
  • Whether the supported spouse is likely to become self-supporting enough to meet a similar standard of living as the couple enjoyed while married, as well as how long it would take the supported spouse to achieve that goal
  • Tax consequences to each spouse
  • Premarital or postmarital agreements
  • Whether one spouse contributed to the education or increased earning power of the other spouse
  • Other factors the court believes are relevant

Related: Will you have to pay spousal support?

Why Do Some People Get Spousal Support in Wisconsin?

The purpose of alimony is to ensure that one spouse – typically the lower-earning one – doesn’t starve or lose his or her home as a result of the divorce. Spousal support is there to provide, not to punish a bad spouse.

Related: Wisconsin alimony calculator

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

We can help you through your divorce, and we’ll be happy to talk to you about spousal support during a free consultation. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule a time to talk to an experienced Wisconsin divorce attorney.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T15:03:28-05:00October 12th, 2020|Family Law|Comments Off on Does Cheating Affect Alimony in a Wisconsin Divorce?

Do I Have to Prove Paternity to Get Child Support in Wisconsin?

Do I Have to Prove Paternity to Get Child Support in Wisconsin - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Being a parent is hard – and it becomes even harder when you and your children’s other parent are splitting up. Whether you’re divorcing or breaking off a dating relationship, it’s important that you know Wisconsin holds both parents responsible for the care and well-being of children.

But does that mean you have to prove paternity to get child support in Wisconsin? Sometimes. Here’s what you need to know.

Related: Wisconsin child support laws for fathers

Do I Have to Prove Paternity to Get Child Support in Wisconsin?

If you and your child’s other parent were married at the time your child was born, the court assumes paternity. That means the court automatically considers your spouse to be the child’s father. You can ask the judge in your case to order the father to pay child support, even if your child and your ex have never participated in a paternity test.

However, if you and your child’s other parent were not married when your little one was born, you’ll have to establish paternity in order for the court. You can do that in one of two ways:

  • You can ask your child’s father to sign a statement that affirms that he’s the child’s biological father
  • You can ask the court to establish paternity by filing a petition with the county where the child lives.

Signing the statement is the simplest way to establish paternity. However, not all children’s fathers agree – and sometimes people don’t want to sign a statement acknowledging paternity. If that happens, you have the option to ask a judge to establish paternity.

Related: Establishing paternity in Wisconsin

Filing a Petition to Establish Paternity

If you file a petition to establish paternity, the judge in your case will fit you in on his or her calendar. You’ll all go to a hearing. Your child’s father has the right to ask for genetic testing.

Related: Guide to child support in Wisconsin

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Paternity and Child Support?

If you’re not sure whether you should go to court or how you should handle your ex when it comes to child support, we’re here to help. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to a caring, knowledgeable professional who can give you the guidance you need.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-07-17T11:29:30-05:00September 28th, 2020|Family Law|Comments Off on Do I Have to Prove Paternity to Get Child Support in Wisconsin?

International Adoption FAQ

International Adoption FAQ - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

International adoption is one way to complete a family – but if you’re like many people who have considered it, you want to do as much research as possible. Check out this international adoption FAQ to get answers, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, call us at 414-383-6700. We’ll be happy to help.

International Adoption FAQ

When you’re considering international adoption, the answers to these questions may help you make the best possible decision for your family.

Related: Types of adoption processes

Should We Work With an Attorney for International Adoption?

For many families, the best – and simplest – course of action is to work with a family law and immigration attorney during the international adoption process. Your attorney can answer all your questions, ensure you file the appropriate paperwork with the government and the courts, and walk you through the process from start to finish.

What Are the Requirements for International Adoption?

Generally speaking, adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old, and at least one parent must be a U.S. citizen. Each person adopting the child must complete the appropriate government forms, have a home study, and be cleared by the FBI in a search for child abuse records. Other countries may have eligibility criteria, as well.

What Kinds of Immigration Forms Do We Need for an International Adoption?

Usually, you need Form I-600 or I-800 for an international adoption. Your attorney can also let you know if there are other forms you need to file, as well as supporting documentation that you must provide.

How Much Does International Adoption Cost?   

International adoption can cost between $15,000 and $35,000, but the fees vary based on the country from which you’re adopting. Those fees often include agency fees, travel expenses and U.S. government fees for filing the right immigration paperwork.  

Is it Hard to Adopt a Child From Another Country?

It can be difficult to adopt a child from another country, but it can also be difficult to adopt a child in the U.S. It depends on what country your adoptive child is coming from, what issues your current family is facing, and the requirements imposed by your adoptive child’s home country.

Do You Want to Speak With a Family Law Attorney About International Adoption?  

If you’re considering international adoption – or if you want to adopt a child from within the United States – we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule a consultation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you start moving forward to grow your family.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-07-17T11:09:34-05:00August 25th, 2020|Family Law, Immigration Law|Comments Off on International Adoption FAQ

What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

What is a Marital Settlement Agreement - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people going through a divorce, you already know how difficult it is. When you’re expected to see eye-to-eye with your ex to reach agreements on important issues, it can be even harder. But your divorce attorney might suggest that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse work together to create a marital settlement agreement – and that’s in your best interest.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

A marital settlement agreement is a written agreement between a married couple that resolves all the important issues, such as:

Does a Marital Settlement Agreement Need to Be Notarized?

Usually, a marital settlement agreement does not need to be notarized in Wisconsin. However, your divorce attorney will be able to provide you with case-specific guidance.

Is a Settlement Agreement the Same as a Divorce Decree?

A marital settlement agreement is not the same thing as a divorce decree. Your settlement agreement will outline what you agree to do, take or receive once your divorce is complete. A divorce decree is a court order that ends your marriage (at which point, you’re responsible for upholding your marital settlement agreement).

Is it Better to Settle Divorce Out of Court Through Your Own Marital Settlement Agreement?

For many people, it’s far better to come up with a marital settlement agreement than to litigate a divorce case in court. That’s because you’ll save time and money by coming up with your own agreement (or even by using a mediator to find common ground). Additionally, you and your ex-spouse will both have a hand in the outcome of your case, so you’re more likely to be reasonably satisfied with the outcome.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About a Marital Settlement Agreement?

If you’re considering divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we may be able to help you. Call us right away at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation now. We’ll listen to your situation and help you get the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-05-16T17:49:33-05:00July 13th, 2020|Family Law|Comments Off on What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

What is an Annulment?

What is an Annulment - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re considering an annulment, there are a few things you need to know first – including how to get one, what it means if your marriage was annulled, and how annulment is different from divorce.

What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a legal declaration that makes a marriage invalid. In simpler terms, an annulment makes it like you were never even married. Under Wisconsin law, a court can annul a marriage if:

  • One party lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage for any reason
  • One party doesn’t have the physical capacity to consummate the marriage (have sex)
  • One party was 16 or 17 at the time of the marriage and married without parental consent or judicial approval, or one party was under the age of 16
  • The marriage is prohibited by state law (such as when one party is already married to someone else)

According to the law, these are the only reasons a person can seek an annulment – and if they don’t fit your situation, you’re going to need to think about divorce instead.

What is an Annulment Compared to Divorce?

Annulment is different from divorce because it invalidates your whole marriage – it’s like it never even happened. Divorce, on the other hand, still acknowledges that you were married; it’s just a dissolution of your marriage contract.

Related: Can I get an annulment in Wisconsin?

How Long Do You Have to Annul a Marriage in Wisconsin?

Usually, you only have a year to annul a marriage in Wisconsin. For example, if one party lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage or lacks the physical capacity to consummate the marriage, you must annul it no later than one year after you obtain knowledge of the incapacity.

If you’re dealing with an underaged couple, you have until the underaged party reaches the age of 18 – but a parent or guardian must bring suit within a year of learning of the marriage.

If the marriage is prohibited by Wisconsin law, you have to bring suit within 10 years of the marriage – except in the case of bigamy, and then the 10-year limitation doesn’t apply.

What is an Annulment Petition in Wisconsin?

In order to get your marriage annulled in Wisconsin, you’ll have to file a Petition for Annulment, which your attorney can do for you. The form needs to be filed in the circuit court where either party lives (and you must have lived in Wisconsin for at least 30 days before you file). For many people, the best course of action is to work with a divorce attorney who’s familiar with annulment.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Annulment?

If you’re considering annulment, or if you’d like to see what other options you have, we’ll be more than happy to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation with a Milwaukee divorce attorney now.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-05-16T17:25:54-05:00June 8th, 2020|Family Law|Comments Off on What is an Annulment?