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b2ap3_thumbnail_adam.JPGBy: Attorney Adam Schleis

For a parent, few things are worse than the prospect of losing custody of their children. Unfortunately, there are some situations where a parent may be accused of child abuse or where school officials or other parties may be concerned that a child is at risk of harm. In these cases, Wisconsin Child Protective Services (CPS) may initiate a child in need of protective services (CHIPS) action. Children may be temporarily removed from their parents’ home, and parents will be notified that they will be required to appear in court to address the allegations. 

These situations can be incredibly disturbing, and parents may worry that they could permanently lose custody of their children. To ensure that their rights will be protected, parents will need to understand the procedures that will be followed in these cases, and with the help of a children’s court attorney, they can take steps to resolve these matters with minimal disruptions to their lives.

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milwaukee prenuptial agreement lawyerBy:  Attorney Max StephensonA prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be a great way to protect your assets in the event of a divorce. These types of agreements serve as contracts between couples, and they will usually address how financial issues and other concerns related to a couple's property will be handled if their marriage ends. A prenup or postnup can specify that certain assets are community property or separate property, and a couple can make decisions about how their property will be divided. Other issues can also be addressed in these agreements, such as whether one spouse will pay spousal support to the other. 

While marital agreements can be very beneficial, ensuring that a couple can protect their financial interests and minimize conflict if they do choose to get divorced, a prenup or postnup may lead to additional complications during the divorce process if a couple disagrees about the terms of an agreement or if one spouse claims that an agreement is invalid. To avoid these issues, it is important to make sure a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is valid and enforceable when it is created.

Issues Affecting Enforceability of Marital Agreements

Wisconsin law details several reasons why a prenup or postnup may be found to be unenforceable:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_first-refusal-grgb.JPGBy: Attorney Max Stephenson and Paralegal Ali Jaeger

Parents who choose to divorce or separate will need to address a wide variety of issues related to child custody. These include what is commonly known as legal custody, which covers major decision-making for the child, and physical custody or physical placement, which determines where the child will live. Along with major decisions detailing how parents will work together to raise their children and when they spend time with their children on a day-to-day basis, they may need to address exceptions to these rules and variances from these plans. One issue that may be raised in these situations is the right of first refusal.

What Is the Right of First Refusal?

As parents provide care for their children, situations may arise in which one parent will not be available during the time they are scheduled to have physical placement or visitation. In these cases, the other parent may feel that it would be better for children to be in the care of a parent rather than another caretaker, such as a babysitter, a grandparent, or a step-parent. This is where the right of first refusal comes in. This right will ensure that if a parent is ever going to be unavailable during a time when they are scheduled to have the children stay with them, they must contact the other parent and offer them the chance to take the children. Other childcare arrangements may only be made if the other parent refuses to provide care.

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Milwaukee child custody lawyerBy: Attorney Megan Drury

In divorce and family law cases, parents may need to address a variety of issues related to child custody. While there are some cases where parents may agree on how custody of their children will be handled, disputes often arise between parents, and it can be difficult to determine the best ways to resolve these issues. In some cases, a guardian ad litem may be appointed. Parents will need to understand the role this person will play in their case and the best steps they can take to protect their parental rights and ensure that they will be able to provide for their children’s best interests.

What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?

When parents disagree about how to handle child custody, it can be difficult for a judge to determine how to make decisions that will protect children’s best interests. The parents and their attorneys may make arguments based on their desires, their claims of what has happened in the past, and their individual beliefs about what is best for their children. However, evaluating the accuracy of parents’ claims, understanding the biases they bring to a case, and determining how emotions may color parents’ attitudes is not always easy. To more fully evaluate the situation, a judge may seek help from other parties.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Meganweb.jpgBy: Attorney Megan Drury

Parents may need to address issues related to child custody in a variety of situations, although this is most often a factor in divorce cases. Most of the time, parents will be able to share custody of children. Joint legal custody will allow both parents to be involved in decisions about how their children should be raised. Shared physical custody (known as physical placement in Wisconsin) will ensure that children will be able to spend reasonable amounts of time with both parents. However, there may be some situations where joint legal custody may not be appropriate, and if there are potential risks to children’s safety and well-being, certain types of restrictions regarding physical placement may be put in place.

Joint Legal Custody vs. Sole Legal Custody

In Wisconsin, family courts presume that it is in children’s best interests for parents to share joint legal custody. This will ensure that parents can cooperate to raise their children and work together to make decisions about important issues such as where children will go to school, which doctors will provide medical care, and the religion that children will be raised in. However, there may be some situations where a court may determine that it would be in children’s best interests for one parent to have sole legal custody. These include cases where a parent is incapable of performing parental responsibilities, such as when they have a serious illness or disability, as well as situations where a parent is not interested in maintaining an active and continuing role in raising their children. 

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