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How to Terminate Your Ex’s Parental Rights in Wisconsin

By Carlos Gamino

In the state of Wisconsin, courts have the authority to terminate parental rights. However, that’s not an authority they take lightly – and it typically requires one of two things: A significant amount of proof that a parent is completely unfit or the parent’s consent to termination. In either case, it’s very difficult to terminate a person’s parental rights in Wisconsin. This guide explains.

When Will the Courts Consider Terminating a Person’s Parental Rights?

Courts in Wisconsin will only consider terminating a person’s parental rights in extreme circumstances. Even if the parent in question volunteers to give up their rights to a child, the courts don’t generally like to grant termination.

However, there are several grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights, including abandonment, child abuse, substance abuse or incarceration. If you are the parent requesting the termination, the burden of proving that the other parent is unfit lies with you.

Related: Termination of parental rights: The basics

How to Terminate Your Ex’s Parental Rights in Wisconsin

For most people, the simplest way to ask a court to terminate a parent’s rights to a child is to work through an attorney.

If you want to terminate your ex’s parental rights, your attorney will ask you several questions about why you’d like to do so – and what proof you have that supports the fact that your ex should lose rights to your child. You’ll need proof that demonstrates that the other party is unfit to parent your child. You also need to know that termination of parental rights is very rare, and the laws governing it are very specific.

In Wisconsin, every parent has fundamental rights to the care, control and custody of their children. When parental rights are terminated, those rights are destroyed; so is a child’s legal relationship with their biological parent. Termination of parental rights means that the child’s right to affiliate with extended family through that parent, such as grandparents, is also terminated because the legal connection to that family is dissolved.

Often, judges are also concerned with whether there is a fit stepparent who is willing to adopt the child if the court agrees to terminate a biological parents rights. Generally speaking, the state’s position is that it is better for children to grow up with two parents, even if one doesn’t qualify for a “Parent of the Year” award.

A Word on Abandonment

If your child’s other parent has effectively abandoned your child, you should discuss your situation with an attorney. Abandonment only occurs in very specific circumstances, and it’s often very complicated.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Termination of Parental Rights?

Now that you know it’s incredibly difficult to terminate another person’s parental rights, and that you must have significant proof in order for a court to even consider such a petition, you may wish to speak to a family law attorney who can give you the guidance you need. Please feel free to call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation; if it’s easier, you can also request a consultation online.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-05-20T20:55:04-05:00May 2nd, 2022|Family Law|Comments Off on How to Terminate Your Ex’s Parental Rights in Wisconsin

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Wisconsin?

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people contemplating divorce, you’ve heard of couples who have split quickly – and you’ve heard of couples whose divorces have taken years to complete. So how long does it take to get a divorce in Wisconsin, and do they all take the same amount of time? This guide walks you through the Wisconsin divorce timeline so you know what to expect.

How Long Does Divorce Take in Wisconsin?

Generally speaking, a typical divorce – one that doesn’t involve high assets or a lot of controversy – typically takes between six months and a year to complete. That doesn’t mean yours will fit neatly into that timeline, though. Every case is different, which means yours could take several months to a year (or more).

The absolute minimum amount of time is 120 days. The state requires you to go through a mandatory “cooling-off” period to help ensure that you really do want to go through with your divorce. During this time, you can’t have a final hearing; that prevents people from divorcing if they aren’t really positive that divorce is the best choice.

Related: What to know before you divorce your spouse

How Long Does it Take to File Divorce Paperwork?

If you’re thinking about divorce, you need to know that Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state. That means only one of you has to agree to the divorce, and you don’t need to point the finger at anyone in order for a court to dissolve your marriage. All you have to do is let the court know that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Your attorney can fill out and file your divorce papers as soon as you’re ready. After the papers are filed with the court, the mandatory 120-day cooling-off period begins. During that time, your spouse will receive the paperwork and have the chance to respond.

Related: 10 tips for surviving divorce

How Long Does it Take to Finalize a Divorce in Wisconsin?

The court can’t finalize a divorce in Wisconsin until after the 120-day cooling-off period is over. (There are some circumstances in which the court can waive the cooling-off period, but they’re rare.)

In order to finalize your divorce, you must have a marital settlement agreement. The agreement has to be signed by both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and you must also have filed financial disclosure statements with the court. (Your attorney will do that for you.) You must also complete any court-mandated mediation or parenting classes before the judge in your case will finalize your divorce.

If you and your spouse agree on everything, including tough matters like child custody, your divorce will be finalized much faster than it would be if you disagreed. That’s because couples who can’t reach an agreement have to wait for time slots to open up on the court’s calendar – and they have to come up with evidence that supports their own positions.

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Lawyer About Divorcing Quickly?

If you’re thinking about divorcing your spouse, you should consult with an attorney. Attorneys who are looking out for their clients’ best interests want to get divorces over with quickly, with the best possible outcomes for their clients. We’ll be happy to schedule a free consultation for you – just call our office at 414-383-6700 now. We’ll talk to you about your situation and give you case-specific legal advice.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-05-20T21:03:14-05:00April 12th, 2022|Family Law|Comments Off on How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Wisconsin?

The Best Books to Help Kids Through Divorce in 2022

By Carlos Gamino

Though there’s no substitute for talking to your kids about divorce, you can help them get through yours by offering them something good to read. Fortunately, there are plenty of good books on divorce (and that feature characters whose parents are divorcing) that can help your children understand what’s going on.

Mum and Dad Glue by Kes Gray and Lee Wildish

In Mum and Dad Glue, the main character wants to fix his parents’ relationship – but the book emphasizes that what’s happening isn’t the child’s fault and that kids can’t assume that responsibility. It also highlights that the kids (and their parents) will end up being okay.

I Have Two Homes by Marian De Smet and Nynke Talsma

I Have Two Homes centers on Nina, a girl who lives in both her parents’ separate houses. This uncomplicated look at what it’s like for kids with divorced parents is a must-read for kids age 4 and up.

Why Do Families Change?: Our First Talk About Separation and Divorce By Dr. Jillian Roberts

Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts wrote Why Do Families Change?: Our First Talk About Separation and Divorceto help kids understand their places in their families during and after divorce – and to help them understand they’re not at fault.

Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce by Tamara Schmitz

Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce is about a regular kid whose parents are divorcing. The uplifting message of the book shows kids that no matter what, parents always love their children – and having two homes to live in can be wonderful.

Divorce Feels Yucky!: The Kids’ Secret to Feeling Better by Madison Lovato and Lucas Lovato

Divorce Feels Yucky!: The Kids’ Secret to Feeing Better is about a young pair of siblings who find out their parents are splitting up. The brother and sister help reassure readers that though divorce seems scary, kids can (and should) talk to their parents and other trusted adults about what they’re feeling.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Divorce?

If you’re contemplating divorce, you’re not alone. We can help you through this difficult process so you’re free to focus on what’s most important: your children. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your free consultation – we can give you the legal advice (and the peace of mind) you need.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-05-20T21:13:49-05:00February 24th, 2022|Family Law|Comments Off on The Best Books to Help Kids Through Divorce in 2022

How to Get a Restraining Order in Wisconsin

By Carlos Gamino

Getting a restraining order may seem like a drastic step – but in many cases, it’s absolutely necessary. A restraining order can make the person who harmed or threaten you stop their dangerous behavior; it can require that person to stay away from you and to refrain from contacting you so that you don’t have to live in fear. But how do you get a restraining order in Wisconsin? This guide explains.

How to Get a Restraining Order in Wisconsin

Some people choose to work with an attorney to get a restraining order in Wisconsin. That way, the attorney handles all the legal paperwork associated with the process – and it’s one fewer thing to worry about if you’re already carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Related: What if you violate a restraining order in Wisconsin?

You must qualify for a restraining order if an adult has intentionally caused you physical pain, injury or illness; impaired your physical condition; sexually abused you; threatened to physically or sexually harm you; or harassed you. You may also file for a restraining order on behalf of an individual at risk (an adult with a condition that impairs their ability to care for themselves or a person 60 or over who is being abused or neglected), as well as on behalf of a child in some cases (to protect the child from physical, mental or sexual abuse).

Related: Women accused of domestic violence

Kinds of Wisconsin Restraining Orders

There are four main types of restraining orders in Wisconsin:

  1. Domestic abuse restraining orders
  2. Harassment restraining orders
  3. Restraining orders on behalf of individuals at risk
  4. Restraining orders on behalf of abused children

If you’re not sure which type applies to your situation, you should speak to an attorney about your case. Your lawyer can give you the advice and guidance you need.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About How to Get a Restraining Order in Wisconsin?

We may be able to help you protect yourself or someone else through a restraining order. Call our office now at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation; we’ll answer your questions and advise you.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2022-01-28T13:10:01-06:00January 7th, 2022|Family Law|Comments Off on How to Get a Restraining Order in Wisconsin

Who Gets the Pets in a Wisconsin Divorce Case?

By Carlos Gamino. Click here for audio version.

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 |2021-11-23T11:43:13-06:00October 20th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on Who Gets the Pets in a Wisconsin Divorce Case?

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?

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