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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 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?

Child Placement Laws in Wisconsin

Child Placement Laws in Wisconsin - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Child custody and placement are two of the most disputed parts of divorce. It can be tough for parents who both want the best for their children to see eye-to-eye, particularly after a break-up. But having knowledge of child placement laws in Wisconsin can help you determine what’s right for your kids – and what a judge is likely to sign off on when you submit a plan to the court.

Child Placement Laws in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know

Physical placement refers to the time that your children are in each parent’s care. When the children are with you, you have the right to make routine decisions about their care. Likewise, when they’re with their other parent, he or she has the right to make those decisions.

Most court orders outline the placement schedule between the parents so there’s not much room for confusion about where the kids are (and when they switch from one parent’s house to another).

Do Parents Have to Have Equal Placement?

In Wisconsin, the law says that kids should have a schedule that gives them plenty of time with each parent. The placement doesn’t have to be 50-50. In fact, it just needs to maximize the time the kids will have with each parent and make sure the time they spend with each parent is regularly occurring and meaningful.

It’s in your best interest to reach an agreement with your children’s other parent. If you don’t, the courts will have to rule for you. And while judges do their best to remain fair and impartial while putting the kids’ needs first, nobody knows your family – or what works for them – like you do.

Some of the factors the judge will consider if he or she must rule on placement include:

  • Availability of child care
  • Communication and cooperation between the parents
  • Each parent’s availability to care for the kids
  • Past parenting time
  • The child’s adjustment
  • The child’s family and other significant relationships
  • The needs and wishes of the children
  • What the parents want
  • Whether each parent is supportive or interferes in the other parent’s relationship with the children

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Child Placement Laws in Wisconsin?

If you need to talk to a Milwaukee child custody lawyer about placement, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to learn more.

Carlos Gamino

By |2019-11-27T21:32:33-06:00November 27th, 2019|Family Law|Comments Off on Child Placement Laws in Wisconsin

3 Benefits to Reaching a Custody Agreement Outside of Court

3 Benefits to Reaching a Custody Agreement Outside of Court - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Most child custody attorneys in Milwaukee will advise you to reach a custody agreement with your spouse rather than going through a lengthy court process. That’s because there are several benefits to doing so, including:

  • Reaching the arrangement that works best for your family’s unique needs
  • Saving time and money on legal fees
  • Showing your kids that you can – and will – cooperate when it comes to parenting

#1: Meeting Your Family’s Needs

Judges always put your kids’ best interests first when they’re making custody determinations, but only you know your family. You know what activities your kids are involved in, where their friends are, when they’re most comfortable – and although the judge will do his or her best to create an ideal custody arrangement, it’s better if you and your spouse work together to create a plan that works best for your kids.

#2: Saving Time and Money on Legal Fees

Litigation is time-consuming… and it’s expensive. When you and your spouse can reach an agreement, you’re saving hours of prep time for your lawyer (and you’re keeping that cash in your pocket). It’s always okay to come to your lawyer when you and your spouse can’t agree – but if you can, you’ll be better off than you would waiting on a court date, providing evidence and testimony, and paying your lawyer to fight with your spouse’s lawyer in court.

Related: Should you try mediation during divorce?

#3: Showing Your Kids You Can Cooperate

The things you do right now are setting the stage for your future relationship with your spouse – and let’s face it: You’re going to be parents for the rest of your lives. When you and your spouse can cooperate, you’re preparing for other big decisions in the future.

Your cooperation now doesn’t just set a good example for your kids. It shows your spouse that you’re willing and able to negotiate.

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

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 for a free divorce consultation with an experienced, compassionate divorce lawyer. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you get started on the path to a successful divorce.

Carlos Gamino

By |2019-11-27T08:27:59-06:00November 27th, 2019|Family Law|Comments Off on 3 Benefits to Reaching a Custody Agreement Outside of Court

Wisconsin Child Custody Laws

Wisconsin Child Custody Laws - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Child custody laws in Wisconsin are different from those in other states – but even if you’ve lived here your entire life, it’s easy to become confused about what the state requires when it comes to custody and placement. Here’s what you need to know about Wisconsin’s child custody laws and how they apply to you.

Wisconsin Child Custody Laws

In the state of Wisconsin, there are two types of “custody.” One involves legal custody, and the other refers to physical placement of your children.

Legal Custody

The term legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make major decisions about a child. These types of decisions include things like non-emergency healthcare, where the child will attend school and what religious upbringing the child will receive.

Physical Placement

The term physical placement refers to the time a child spends in each parent’s care. When your child is placed with you, you’re the parent who makes routine daily decisions (like what the child will eat, where the child will spend time and other day-to-day matters). The law doesn’t require each parent to have equal time with the children, but it does require regularly occurring, meaningful periods of placement that maximize the amount of time the kids spend with each parent.

How Do Wisconsin’s Child Custody Laws Solve Custody and Placement Issues?

Your attorney will probably tell you that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse come up with your own custody agreement. That way, you can keep important decisions about your kids (and their schedules) out of the court’s hands and in yours – after all, you and your ex know your kids best, and you know what will work best for them.

If you and your ex can’t agree on placement, you’ll force the judge in your case to make decisions for you. While judges do remain fair and impartial, they don’t know your family like you do. You and your ex are the most qualified people to work out what’s best for your children.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Wisconsin’s Child Custody Laws?

If you’re considering divorce or if your spouse has already filed, you may need to talk to an attorney about our state’s child custody laws and how they’ll affect your family. Call us at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation with an experienced divorce attorney who can help.

Carlos Gamino

By |2019-11-26T21:08:58-06:00November 26th, 2019|Family Law|Comments Off on Wisconsin Child Custody Laws

Creating a Parenting Time Agreement With Your Ex

How to Coordinate a Parenting Time Agreement - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

When you’re going through a divorce, it’s common knowledge that it’s best to work with your spouse rather than against him or her – especially when developing a parenting time agreement.

Why It’s Important to Agree With Your Spouse on Parenting Time

If you cannot agree with your spouse, the judge will have to decide on who gets physical placement and visitation times.

While Milwaukee and Waukesha judges try their best to remain fair and impartial when awarding custody and visitation time, only you and your spouse know what is actually best for your family. That means you are the two most qualified people to make decisions regarding where your kids spend most of their time.

But where do you even begin?

How to Create a Parenting Time Agreement With Your Ex

First, talk to your soon-to-be ex-spouse about what your children would prefer – and what you would prefer.

Ask yourselves:

  • Is one of you more capable of providing 24-hour care to your children?
  • Does one of you have a more flexible work schedule that allows for extracurricular activities and shuttling the kids back and forth to school?
  • Will one of you be retaining your marital home, where your children have already established themselves?
  • Which one of you will be moving, and will you have enough space for the children to live with you on a more permanent basis?
  • How do your children feel about the divorce, and what would their preferences be if they could choose which parent to live with?

It can be extremely difficult to reach an agreement with your spouse, particularly during a time when emotions are running high (such as during divorce), but remember that the end goal is to be the best possible parents you can be for your children. They need you to make these important decisions wisely – and with their best interests at heart.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney in Milwaukee About Child Placement and Parenting Time?

If you’re contemplating divorce, or if your spouse has already filed for divorce, call us right away 414-383-6700 for a free consultation with a divorce lawyer. We can help you develop a parenting time agreement that you and your spouse can agree on (and that works best for you and your family).

Carlos Gamino

By |2019-11-24T13:18:19-06:00November 24th, 2019|Family Law|Comments Off on Creating a Parenting Time Agreement With Your Ex

Does the Mother Automatically Get Custody of the Kids in Wisconsin?

Do Wisconsin Custody Laws Favor the Mother - Wisconsin Custody Lawyers

By Carlos Gamino

When you’re fighting for child custody as part of a divorce in Wisconsin, whether in Milwaukee, Waukesha or elsewhere, and whether you’re the kids’ mother or father, you may be under a few misconceptions about the way our laws work.

How Do Wisconsin Custody Laws Work?

Many people are under the mistaken assumption that Wisconsin child custody laws favor the mother over the father—but the truth is that our state’s custody laws were designed to work in the children’s best interests.

The term child custody refers to the right to make decisions (like education, non-emergency healthcare, and religion) about your children. The term placement refers to the time that a child is in a parent’s care.

Wisconsin law doesn’t require each parent to have equal time with the children. Instead, the law says that each parent should have as much meaningful time as possible with each parent.

Do Wisconsin Custody Laws Automatically Favor Mothers?

The court is not allowed to prefer one parent over the other on the basis of sex or race. Instead, judges must weigh the benefits to the child in every situation. For example, if a mother is breastfeeding her child, the courts will take that into consideration when they’re determining the appropriate placement; if a father has a stay-at-home job that allows him ample time to care for the children while the mother has a job that takes her out of the country on frequent business trips, the courts will take that into consideration, too.

The court has to look at several factors, including:

  • Each party’s wishes
  • The interaction each child has with his or her parents, siblings, and others
  • How much time each parent has spent with the child in the past
  • How adjusted the child is to school, home, and community
  • How old the child is, as well as his or her developmental and educational needs
  • Each party’s mental and physical health
  • The availability of child care services
  • Whether each parent will be able to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Whether there is a history of abuse, drug use, or crime
  • The reports of professionals, if there are any
  • Other factors the court believes are relevant

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin or Milwaukee Custody Lawyer?

If you need to talk to an attorney about child custody in Wisconsin, call us at 414-383-6700. We’ll be happy to give you a free custody case evaluation, so please, reach out today.

Carlos Gamino

By |2019-11-24T09:04:50-06:00November 24th, 2019|Family Law|Comments Off on Does the Mother Automatically Get Custody of the Kids in Wisconsin?

3 Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents

3 Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents - Wisconsin Child Custody Lawyers

By Carlos Gamino

We’ve all heard that co-parenting is a great way to raise children after divorce, but it isn’t always easy—especially if you’ve had a contentious divorce and you’ve argued about child custody.

Co-parenting isn’t for everyone, so you shouldn’t feel pressured if you’re uncomfortable with it. However, it can be beneficial for everyone involved… especially your kids.

3 Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents

If you do decide to approach co-parenting with your ex-spouse, you can make things easier on yourself (and on your kids) by following these three tips.

Co-Parenting Tip #1: Peaceful, Consistent Communication

If either of you becomes angry when you’re dealing with each other to co-parent your kids, take a break. Most situations aren’t life-or-death, so stepping back before you say something you’ll regret (or your ex does) is nearly always a good idea.

It’s not always easy to communicate with your ex, but if it’s too tough to talk on the phone, try texting or email. There are several ways you can communicate peacefully without meeting face-to-face or talking on the phone.

Co-Parenting Tip #2: Approach it Like a Business… and the Business is Your Child’s Well-Being

How would you talk to a colleague or a business rival? You’d be civil and polite, and you’d keep the end result in mind.

Co-parenting doesn’t have to be any different with your ex. The business you’re conducting is ensuring your child’s well-being, so make sure you talk (or write) to your ex the same way you would communicate with a colleague or business rival.

Co-Parenting Tip #3: Improve Your Relationship With Your Ex

You’re obviously sincere about wanting to co-parent, so remember that there are a few things you can do to make communication easier:

  • Apologize when you’re wrong. It’s not easy to admit, but you should; a sincere apology goes a long way when it comes to communicating with others.
  • Ask your ex’s opinion. Start with an issue you don’t feel strongly about; the idea is to show your ex that you value his or her opinion. Ask for input, and if you can, incorporate it.
  • Choose your battles. Always put your child’s best interests first. If your ex asks for extra time with the child that would ordinarily cut into yours, it may be a good idea to let it slide. Showing flexibility in instances like that can also encourage your ex to be more flexible with you, and that’s a win-win.

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Child Custody Lawyer?

If you need to discuss your case with a Wisconsin child custody lawyer, call us right away at 414-383-6700. If it’s easier, contact us online instead. We’ll be happy to evaluate your case and give you the help you need.

Carlos Gamino

By |2019-11-24T06:47:09-06:00November 24th, 2019|Family Law|Comments Off on 3 Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do - Wisconsin Family Law Attorney

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people going through a divorce in Milwaukee, you’ve heard the term guardian ad litem—but what does it mean, and how does it affect your case?

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem, or GAL, is a lawyer who’s licensed in Wisconsin whose sole responsibility is to protect a minor child’s best interests. The guardian ad litem can investigate facts, participate in negotiations, and offer a position to the court about a child’s legal custody and physical placement.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

A guardian ad litem investigates the facts of a case, but more specifically, he or she will speak to both parents and the child or children involved in the dispute.

As the GAL is investigating, he or she will consider:

  • The child’s wishes and both parents’ wishes
  • Whether one or both parents have had a pattern or a serious incidence of violence between them
  • The child’s safety and well-being
  • The child’s relationship with you and other family members
  • How well-adjusted the child is to home, school, religion and community
  • The child’s age and needs
  • Physical abuse or problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Any other significant factors that affect a child’s well-being

This isn’t a comprehensive list. A guardian ad litem’s responsibility is to help the court determine what’s best for your child, so he or she can consider a number of other factors that will affect the child.

Who Appoints a Guardian ad Litem?

A family court commissioner or a judge appoints a guardian ad litem. Typically, one of the parents request a GAL; however, sometimes (as mentioned above) an involved attorney can request one.

The court can appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor child in any action if:

  • Legal custody or physical placement is contested
  • Legal custody or physical placement is stipulated to be with anyone other than a parent, or when a child is in the legal custody of anyone (or any agency) other than the child’s parent
  • An involved attorney requests one on behalf of a minor whose paternity has not been acknowledged

Do You Have Questions About GALs in Wisconsin?

We’ll be more than happy to answer your questions about guardian ad litem services in Wisconsin. Our attorneys are certified and licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, and we have completed specialized training related to the areas of law that guardians ad litem are often necessary for, including divorce, juvenile and paternity cases in which custody or placement is an issue.

Call us at 414-383-6700 or get in touch with us online today.

Carlos Gamino

By |2019-11-23T10:47:19-06:00November 23rd, 2019|Family Law|Comments Off on What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

Legal Custody vs. Physical Placement

Legal Custody vs. Physical Placement - Milwaukee Divorce Lawyers

If you’re like many divorcing parents, you have dozens of questions for your Milwaukee divorce lawyer… and some of them revolve around the differences between legal custody and physical placement. The two are very different things, and because other states have different names for them, it can be a bit confusing.

What is Legal Custody?

Legal custody is the right of a parent to make major decisions about his or her children. Those major decisions can include things such as:

  • Routine healthcare
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Permission to obtain a driver’s license

There are two types of legal custody: joint and sole. In joint legal custody, both parents have the same rights to make those decisions for their children. In sole legal custody, only one parent has the right to make those decisions.

What is Physical Placement?

The term physical placement refers to the time when your children are in your or your ex’s care. Many divorcing couples agree on physical placement schedules based on what works best for their families. A placement schedule can be relatively equal between both parents, place children with one parent during the week and the other on the weekends, or fit into an entirely different schedule.

Some placement orders are very specific, and in many cases, that’s helpful; those that are vague can be tough to enforce.

Who Decides on Legal Custody and Physical Placement?

Ideally, you and your ex-spouse will agree on what’s best for your children. However, as you may have already discussed with your Milwaukee divorce attorney, that’s not always possible.

If you and your ex cannot agree, you may decide to go through mediation on your own, or the judge in your case may tell you that you must visit a mediator at least once.

Finally, if you’re unable to reach an agreement through mediation, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (an attorney who represents your kids’ best interests) to make recommendations. The court will ask for input from the parents, and in some cases, court social workers before making a final decision on legal custody and physical placement.

Do You Need Help With Legal Custody and Placement?

Many people find that it’s a good idea to talk to a divorce attorney in Milwaukee before attempting to negotiate legal custody or physical placement during a divorce.

If you need help, we’re here for you. Call us at 414-383-6700 in Milwaukee. You can also contact us online if it’s easier.

By |2019-11-23T08:13:37-06:00November 23rd, 2019|Family Law|Comments Off on Legal Custody vs. Physical Placement