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Wisconsin child support lawyerMilwaukee child support modification attorneysBy Attorney Max Stephenson and Courtney Hess

When you get a divorce with children under the age of 18, you and your spouse must address a wide variety of issues related to your children, including determining the amount of child support that each of you will be obligated to pay to provide for your children’s needs. Although a child support order will typically remain in effect until the child reaches the age of 18 (or 19 if the child is pursuing an accredited course of education leading to the acquisition of a high school diploma or its equivalent), you may be able to adjust your child support obligations under certain circumstances.

The Child Support Percentage of Income Standard

According to Wisconsin Administrative Code DCF 150.03, child support is determined by calculating a certain percentage of the payor’s income. The court will first determine the parent’s monthly income available for child support, which may be based on their actual annual gross income, imputed income based on earning capacity, or income imputed based on the assets they own. The percentage of this income that will go toward child support will be based on the number of children. For example, an obligor parent with two children will be required to pay 25% of his or her income in child support, whereas an obligor with three children must pay 29%. Parents may also be required to pay for additional child-related “variable” expenses, including health insurance, educational costs, and extracurricular activities. 

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Milwaukee, WI divorce attorney for child custodyBy Attorney Max Stephenson

During your divorce, you and your spouse will need to resolve issues regarding the custody of your children. In Wisconsin, child custody may be granted solely to one parent, giving them the responsibility to make decisions about how the child will be raised. However, in most cases, the court will decide that the parents should have joint or shared custody, and divorced or separated parents will work together to make decisions for their children. Joint custody is usually appropriate if both parents are able to perform parental duties, are able to work together, and have no current conditions or conflicts that would affect the children or their environment.

In addition to child custody, a divorce agreement will address the physical placement of children, which refers to the time the child will spend with each parent. Even if one parent is granted sole custody, the other parent may be allocated a reasonable amount of physical placement.

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Milwaukee retirement account division attorneysSplitting assets in a divorce can be a stressful process. In many cases, retirement accounts are some of the most valuable assets owned by a couple, and as with other marital property, they should be divided equally between spouses. Even if you do not expect to use the funds in your retirement account until many years in the future, it is still considered a marital asset that is measured by its current or predicted value. Unless your retirement accounts were established prior to your marriage or are protected within a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, they will need to be split 50/50 between you and your spouse.

Addressing Common Types of Retirement Accounts

The three major types of retirement benefits that may need to be divided during a divorce include:

  • IRAs - An individual retirement account that can house a wide variety of financial products, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. 
  • 401(k)s - A 401(k) plan is a company-backed retirement account that employees can contribute to. In many cases, employers will match a certain percentage of an employee’s contributions.
  • 403(b)s - A 403(b) is a retirement account for certain employees of public schools and tax-exempt organizations. Those who may have a 403(b) account include teachers, school administrators, professors, government employees, nurses, doctors, and librarians.

Splitting Retirement Accounts

Retirement savings can be split in one of two ways:

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By Attorney Max Stephenson

Milwaukee alimony lawyerFor some couples who choose to get divorced, one spouse is at a financial disadvantage. This may be because they were a stay-at-home parent, or simply because they earn a lower income than their former partner. To ensure that a person in this situation can continue to enjoy the same standard of living they had while married, alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance payments, may be awarded by the court. 

Alimony Factors

According to Wis. Stat. § 767.56, the court may take certain factors into consideration when deciding whether to grant maintenance or how much maintenance should be awarded. These factors include:

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Milwaukee child custody attorney for LGBTQ parents

By Attorney Max Stephenson

LGBTQ parents can face some complex issues in child custody cases in Wisconsin. In many cases, these types of situations involve one of two types of disputes. First, as the rights of the LGBTQ community receive more public support, it is increasingly common for an LGBTQ spouse who was in a different-sex marriage to get divorced after acknowledging that he or she is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. In such cases, where children are involved, the other parent may attempt—whether subtly or outright—to convince the court to consider the sexual orientation or gender identity of the LGBTQ parent negatively when it comes to deciding custody and/or visitation rights. Following a more recent trend, the legal parent may also try to object based on religious beliefs.

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Milwaukee, WI family law attorney for grandparent visitation

By Attorney Max Stephenson

Families can be complicated, and this means that matters of family law can also involve a variety of complex issues. Divorce and child custody cases often result in contentious disputes, and when issues such as visitation rights of grandparents or other third-parties are added to the mix, they can be difficult to resolve. Parents and grandparents should be sure to understand their rights in these situations. 

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Milwaukee, WI family law attorney for same-sex parentsBy Attorney Max Stephenson

Same-sex marriage became legal in Wisconsin in October 2014. Same-sex marriage became legal nationwide in June 2015 with the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges. However, it may come as a surprise to LGBTQ families that same-sex parents are advised to get a court order confirming both parents’ parental rights.

A number of U.S. Supreme Court judgments have provided rights to LGBTQ parents nationwide. For example, Pavan v. Smith gave both parents the right to have their names (either as “mother/father” or “parent/parent”) on the birth certificate of their child, whether the child was adopted or conceived through artificial insemination or by one of the parents.  In the U.S. Supreme Court, cases including Obergefell and Pavan have mandated that all states must extend the same rights and benefits to same-sex married couples that are extended to opposite-sex married couples, including recognizing a non-gestational parent as a legal parent.

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Milwaukee gun crime defense attorney

By Attorney Max Stephenson

Issues related to child custody are often the most difficult part of a divorce. Parents must learn to balance not wanting to live under a different roof than their children and wanting the best for their kids. Determining the best way to address these issues can be challenging for a judge to determine. They must look at every facet of the child’s life and factor in each parent’s ability to meet a child’s needs. In most situations, parents will have shared or joint custody of their children. In these cases, parents will share in the right to make decisions about how to raise their children, and the children will typically spend significant amounts of time with each parent.

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Milwaukee, WI divorce business valuation attorneyIf you are a business owner going through a divorce, it is critical that you understand the laws surrounding community property and asset division and how they relate to your company. For many people, a business is considered community property, which means that both spouses own the business under Wisconsin law. This is true even if only one spouse is involved in the business.

If a business will be classified as community property, it must be properly valued so that business assets can be divided during divorce. It is possible that the spouse who is more involved with the business will retain ownership, and the other spouse will receive different marital assets of an equal value.

The Business Valuation Process

The most common way for a business valuation to occur is to hire a forensic accountant to review business records and other material. Information that will be reviewed  includes:

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Milwaukee WI divorce child custody attorneyThere are numerous child custody concerns that need to be addressed as part of divorce proceedings. The resolution of these issues can have a huge influence on your children for years to come, so it is important to understand what a typical child custody proceeding entails.

Types of Custody

In Wisconsin, there are two types of custody, and both types must be negotiated or litigated during a divorce case. The first type is called legal custody, which refers to the right of a parent to decide major life decisions for their child. These determinations include where a child will go to school and attend church, as well as decisions about medical care issues. In many cases, a court will allow both parents to have a say in these decisions.

The second type of custody in Wisconsin is physical placement, which refers to where a child lives. This type of custody could be sole or joint. Even if one parent has sole custody, the other parent may have visitation rights as well as legal custody rights.

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