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milwaukee adoption lawyerBy: Attorney Megan Drury

Same-sex couples and those who are in the LGBTQ community have the same rights as opposite-sex couples. These include the right to get married, to end a marriage through divorce, or to grow their family by having children. In many cases, these couples will look to adopt children, and when planning to do so, they will need to understand their options and the procedures that will need to be followed.

Types of Adoption for Same-Sex Couples

The adoption process allows someone other than a biological parent to become a child’s legal parent. Same-sex spouses and other LGBTQ families may have multiple options for adopting a child, including:

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milwaukee parenting plan lawyerThere are a variety of issues that will need to be addressed during a couple’s divorce, and in cases where married spouses have children together, they will need to determine how child custody will be handled going forward. Couples are encouraged to work together to reach agreements on these matters, but they may encounter disagreements over a variety of issues related to how their children will be raised or how they will share physical placement. In these situations, each parent may submit a proposed parenting plan. By looking at the differences between the parents’ proposals, a court may be able to help resolve disputes and find solutions that will work for all parties involved. In these situations, parents will need to understand the issues that a proposed parenting plan will address.

Details Addressed in a Proposed Parenting Plan

If a couple will be participating in divorce mediation, each party will be required to submit a proposed parenting plan to the mediator at least 10 days before their first mediation session. If spouses are unable to reach an agreement through mediation, or if the court waives their mediation requirements, the parents will be required to submit proposed parenting plans to the court. These submissions must be made within 60 days after the mediator informs the court that the couple could not reach an agreement or after the date the mediation requirement was waived. If a parent does not submit a proposed plan, they will not be able to contest the plan submitted by the other parent.

A proposed parenting plan will address the following:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_MeganDrury.jpgBy: Attorney Megan Drury and Paralegal Courtney Hess

Parents have a legal obligation to make sure their children’s ongoing needs are being met. When parents are married or cohabitating, they will use the income they earn to provide for their family. However, when parents are divorced or separated, child support is usually required to ensure that both parents are contributing to their children’s needs. In many Wisconsin family law cases, calculations of child support obligations are straightforward, and one parent will pay a certain percentage of their income to the other parent. However, there are some unique situations that may require additional calculations. In a recent blog, we looked at child support in cases involving shared placement of children. Some other situations that can make child support calculations more complicated include:

Split Placement

In some cases, child placement orders may state that one or more children will live primarily with one parent, and one or more other children will live with the other parent. In these cases, child support obligations will need to be determined for both parents, and these obligations will be offset.

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milwaukee child custody lawyerBy: Attorney Max Stephenson and Paralegal Courtney Hess

In cases where parents are no longer in a relationship, both parents will be required to support their children financially. While child support is a factor in situations where married parents get divorced, it may also need to be established in other cases, such as when unmarried parents end their relationship. The laws in Wisconsin use a “percentage of income” standard to determine the amount of child support obligations, and the amount paid by the paying parent is calculated by taking a percentage of their gross monthly income based on the number of children being supported. However, this may not address situations where children will spend significant amounts of time in both parents’ homes. In these cases, some additional calculations will need to be performed to determine the parents’ child support obligations.

Child Support in Shared Placement Situations

If a child custody order states that both parents will have physical placement of their children at least 25% of the time, meaning that children stay with each parent for at least 92 days per year, child support obligations will be determined for both parents using the percentage of income standard. Each parent’s obligation will be multiplied by 150 percent to account for the duplication of certain expenses in both parents’ homes. Each parent’s amount will then be multiplied by the percentage of time the children spend with the other parent. The amounts will be offset to determine the amount that one parent will pay to the other.

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milwaukee divorce lawyerBy: Attorney Max Stephenson and Paralegal Courtney Hess

Since 2014, same-sex marriage has been legal in Wisconsin, and LGBTQ couples have the same rights as opposite-sex husbands and wives. These rights also extend to divorce, and if a same-sex couple chooses to end their marriage, each spouse’s rights will be protected when addressing issues such as property division and spousal support. Same-sex parents will also usually have the right to share child custody. However, there are some complications that may arise in these cases, and LGBTQ parents should be aware of how these matters may be handled when they get divorced or when partners break up.

Issues Related to Child Custody in an LGBTQ Divorce

Wolf v. Walker, the Wisconsin Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, made it clear that when the state’s laws refer to a “husband and wife,” this also includes same-sex couples. This means that same-sex parents will share the same rights toward children as opposite-sex parents. This may become an issue when determining paternity for a child. If a child is born to a mother who is legally married, her spouse will be recognized as the child’s parent, regardless of that spouse’s sex. This will ensure that a same-sex spouse will have parental rights if the parents get divorced, even if the spouse is not the child’s biological parent.

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