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milwaukee divorce lawyerBy: Attorney Megan Drury

A couple that plans to get a divorce will need to address multiple types of assets during the property division process. While the division of some types of property may be fairly straightforward, determining to handle complex assets can often be a complicated process. This is especially true in cases where a couple owns a professional practice. After putting in so much time and effort to become a licensed professional and establish a practice, a person may be concerned about how their divorce will affect the ownership and operation of this type of business. If both spouses were involved in managing and operating a practice, they may be unsure about how to proceed during and after the end of their marriage. Since issues related to professional practices can become very complicated, a spouse can protect their rights and interests by working with an experienced divorce attorney.

Dividing or Sharing Ownership of a Professional Practice

Dentists, chiropractors, accountants, and multiple other types of professionals may establish private practices that allow them to interact directly with patients or clients, build strong and lasting relationships, and provide value to their communities. Professionals may need to receive extensive education and training, and they will also need to maintain the proper licenses to ensure that they can provide quality services to their clients. After putting in the time, money, and effort to establish themselves, build a successful business, and maintain a positive reputation, a professional may want to ensure that they will be able to maintain ownership of their practice and continue providing services to clients, regardless of what happens during their divorce.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Max.jpgBy: Attorney Max Stephenson

Getting a divorce will affect the finances of both parties in multiple ways. Spouses will usually need to make significant changes to their living arrangements, lifestyles, and other aspects of their lives as they determine how they will be able to cover their ongoing expenses on a single income rather than sharing two incomes. While these adjustments may be difficult but necessary when both spouses earn similar incomes, there are some cases where one party may struggle to address their ongoing needs. If one spouse was a family’s primary income earner, the other spouse may need assistance as they establish a new life for themselves and determine how to cover their living expenses. In these cases, spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) may be appropriate, and spouses will need to understand how the amount of support will be determined and how long payments may last.

Determining the Amount and Duration of Spousal Maintenance

There are multiple factors that may be considered when determining whether spousal support will be needed during and/or after a couple’s divorce. These factors may also help determine the amount that should be paid, and the length of time that payments will last. Relevant issues that may be considered during the divorce process include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Meganweb.jpgBy: Attorney Megan Drury

Wisconsin is a community property state, meaning that most property acquired by a married couple belongs equally to both. During a divorce, marital property is to be divided equally. This usually means 50/50, although there are a few reasons the court might deviate from this standard. One of the first steps of property division during divorce is sorting through all property owned by the spouses in order to determine what is marital property and what is separate property. Certain types of property acquired during the marriage by one spouse could be considered separate property. Conversely, some property owned by one spouse alone before the marriage could be considered marital property and subject to division during divorce. 

Making this determination can be complicated. You will likely need to enlist an attorney to help you sort this out if you are going through a divorce. 

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wisconsin divorce lawyerBy Paralegal Courtney D. Hess

Couples who choose to legally dissolve their marriage through divorce will need to address many different legal, financial, and practical issues. The division of marital property is one of the key issues that will need to be resolved, and all of the assets and debts that a couple acquired while married will need to be divided as fairly and equitably as possible. While determining how to divide some assets can be a straightforward process, complex financial issues may arise when addressing certain types of assets, including retirement accounts and pension benefits. When dividing these assets, a couple will usually want to use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO.

Using a QDRO to Divide Retirement Savings and Benefits

Retirement benefits usually fall into one of two categories: defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans. Defined contribution plans usually take the form of retirement savings accounts, such as a 401(k), and the value of these assets is usually easy to determine based on the current balance of the account. Defined benefit plans such as pensions can be more difficult to value, since the amount that will be paid when a person begins receiving benefits usually will not be known until a person retires. A QDRO can be used to divide both of these types of assets between divorcing spouses.

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Milwaukee County spousal support law firmMilwaukee, WI divorce attorney for spousal maintenanceBy Attorney Max Stephenson and Paralegal Courtney Hess

In a Wisconsin divorce, spousal maintenance or alimony is sometimes ordered to provide support for a spouse who is likely to have difficulty providing for themself without their former partner’s income, perhaps due to their health, childcare responsibilities, or lack of education and work experience. When maintenance is ordered, the paying spouse has an important legal responsibility to make the payments on time and in the full amount. However, they should also be aware of other obligations that are likely to be included in the court order.

How Is Spousal Support Paid in Wisconsin?

Typically, rather than making payments directly to their former spouse, the paying party in a maintenance order will be required to make payments to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) or a party designated by DCF. The recipient of the payments is responsible for ensuring that they are disbursed appropriately to the receiving party. Failure to make full, on-time payments to DCF or their designee can result in enforcement proceedings against the paying spouse.

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