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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 |2021-05-17T22:39:45-05:00July 20th, 2021|Family Law|0 Comments

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 |2021-05-17T22:35:10-05:00June 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?

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 |2021-07-17T09:42:49-05:00February 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 |2021-07-17T09:47:08-05:00January 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 |2021-07-17T10:07:06-05:00November 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 |2021-07-17T10:17:21-05:00October 12th, 2020|Family Law|Comments Off on Does Cheating Affect Alimony in a Wisconsin Divorce?