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milwaukee family law attorneyBy: Attorney Max T. Stephenson

Most people are familiar with the concept of prenuptial agreements, which are signed by a couple before they get married and address how matters will be handled if they decide to get a divorce in the future. In many cases, a couple may not feel that they need this type of agreement at the time of their marriage, since neither spouse may own significant assets that would need to be protected. However, after multiple years of marriage, the issues that would be addressed in a prenup may become relevant, and either or both spouses may want to put protections in place if the possibility of divorce does enter the picture. In these cases, a couple may consider creating a postnuptial agreement.

When to Use a Postnuptial Agreement

As with a prenup, a postnup can address issues related to a couple’s finances and property and make decisions about what will happen in a potential divorce. An agreement can specify that certain assets are separate property that one spouse will own following a divorce, or it can detail how different assets will be allocated between the spouses during the property division process. An agreement may also make decisions about spousal maintenance, such as by specifying the amount and duration of payments that one spouse will pay to the other following divorce or by waiving a spouse’s right to receive spousal support.

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Milwaukee, WI charitable trust attorneyBy:  Attorney Denis J. Regan and Paralegal Steven M. Lant

During the estate planning process, you will want to make sure your family members will have the resources they need after you are gone, and you can also make sure your wishes will be followed throughout the rest of your life. However, in the event you have substantial assets beyond the level necessary to support or assist children, you may want to consider the legacy you leave behind from a charitable perspective.  Incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan is a great way of supporting causes you believe in and using your financial resources in a positive way.  The most common method is to provide specific bequests to designated charities in your will/revocable trust.  For charitably inclined persons with substantial resources, charitable trusts can offer a number of benefits for the organizations worthy of support, as well as you and your family members.

Types of Charitable Trusts

When you create a trust, you will place certain assets in the control of a trustee and provide instructions for when and how the assets should be distributed to your beneficiaries. This will protect your assets and ensure that they will be used properly. With a charitable trust, you can name one or more charitable organizations as a beneficiary, and assets may be donated in a lump sum or over time. Unlike living trusts, charitable trusts are usually irrevocable, and once they are created, they cannot be modified.

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milwaukee child custody lawyerSince 2018, Wisconsin law requires a parent to obtain approval before moving with their child more than 100 miles away from the other parent, regardless of whether the move is within Wisconsin or out of state. If the parents can agree to the terms of the relocation, whether on their own or with the assistance of a court-ordered mediator, then the move can usually proceed as planned. However, Wisconsin courts have the authority to deny a parent’s request for relocation depending on the circumstances.

Reasons for Denying Parental Relocation

There are a number of reasons why a Wisconsin court may decide that a parent should not be permitted to relocate with their child, some of which include:

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wisconsin divorce lawyerCouples 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.

For 401(k) accounts and similar assets, a QDRO will specify that a certain amount of the funds in an account will be withdrawn and paid to someone other than the account holder. By creating this type of order and sending it to the retirement plan administrator, funds can be transferred from an account without being required to pay penalties for withdrawal before reaching the age of retirement. If the other spouse rolls the funds over into their own retirement account, they will not be required to pay taxes on the amount that was withdrawn.

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Real estate transactions can be very complicated, and there are multiple types of legal issues that buyers and sellers will want to be aware of. Easements are one issue that will affect how a piece of property can be used. If easements are not properly disclosed during a transaction, real estate litigation may be required to address this issue.

Understanding Easements

An easement is a legal agreement that gives a person, company, or organization the right to use someone else’s property. Easements come in several forms, including:

  • Public easements - A portion of a person’s property may be set aside for public use. These easements may address utilities, ensuring that the government or private utility companies can access a property to install or repair power lines, water lines, or other types of utilities.
  • Private easements - A private individual may be given permission to use someone else’s property for certain purposes. For example, a person may have been granted the right to hunt and fish on someone else’s property, or a person may have been allowed to enter a neighbor’s property to access a lake or river.
  • Easements by necessity - A person may need to cross over another person’s property to enter their own property. These easements can ensure that a person will not be denied access to property that is landlocked.

Some easements may apply to a piece of property, and they will remain in effect after the property is sold. In other cases, easements may be granted to a person or organization, and these will usually remain in effect as long as the original owner owns the property. Easements may be affirmative, meaning that they grant permission to use the property for specific purposes, or they may be negative, meaning that they restrict the property owner from making changes to the property, such as constructing a building that will block a neighbor’s access to the property or their view. 

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milwaukee civil litigation lawyersBy: Attorney Jaclyn C. Kallie

There are many different situations where legal disputes may arise between two or more parties. While civil litigation may be used to resolve these disputes, this process can be very expensive and time-consuming, and neither party may be fully satisfied with the decisions made by a judge or jury. As an alternative to litigating matters in the courtroom, the parties in these types of disputes may want to consider using mediation to reach an out-of-court settlement.

Benefits of Civil Mediation

By using mediation, the parties can often save a great deal of money that would otherwise have gone toward court costs and attorney’s fees. In cases where one party is seeking payment from the other, such as those involving personal injuries or breach of contract, mediation can increase the amount that the plaintiff will be able to recover while helping minimize costs for the defendant.

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Milwaukee, WI drunk driving accident attorney for third party liabilityBy Attorney Christopher Strohbehn

The simple answer to this question is “yes”.  Alcohol or drug use can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. While the dangers of driving while under the influence are well-known, many people still do so. This can lead to dangerous car accidents. While a drunk driver may be held liable for injuries inflicted in these types of accidents, victims may wonder whether other parties may also be civilly or criminally liable. The answer to this inquiry is “it depends.” 

Social Host Liability Laws in Wisconsin

“Social hosts” are people who serve alcohol to others, either in their home, at a venue or other place, e.g., at a work or office party.   

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Milwaukee criminal defense law firmMilwaukee, WI criminal defense attorneyBy Attorney Cameron G. Weitzner and Paralegal Rachel A. Sweet

Getting arrested or charged with a crime can be extremely frightening and stressful, and it may feel like you have nowhere to turn for help and support. However, thanks to the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, there is always at least one person whom you can rely on: your attorney. Among other rights, the Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to “the assistance of counsel for his defense.” If you are facing charges, you should be sure to understand the full extent of the protection that this clause provides.

What Does the Right to Legal Counsel Include?

The Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel means that in a trial or court hearing related to the charges you are facing, you have the right to representation from a qualified defense attorney. Your attorney can take many important actions to protect your rights and help you avoid conviction or an unfair sentence. For example, they can speak on your behalf in opening and closing arguments, help you present evidence and testimony to demonstrate your innocence, cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution, and object to inadmissible evidence and improper trial procedure.

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Milwaukee, WI divorce and child custody attorneyBy Attorney Max T. Stephenson

If you are getting a divorce or attempting to establish a child support or child custody order with your child’s other parent, you may have at least considered the idea of representing yourself throughout the legal process. Perhaps you are worried about the costs of hiring an attorney, or you may feel that you and the other party are in agreement to the extent that legal representation is not necessary. However, choosing to represent yourself can have many unexpected consequences, and it may prevent you from achieving your desired outcome. Here are five reasons why trying to represent yourself in Wisconsin family court could be the wrong decision:

Representing Yourself Is a Large Time Commitment

If you decide to represent yourself, you will need to be prepared to invest a substantial amount of time in your case. Ensuring that you are well-informed about the legal process may require many hours of research, and you will also need to be present for all required court hearings and appearances. If you have other important time commitments, like working a job or caring for your children, finding time to represent yourself can be difficult.

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Milwaukee, WI criminal defense attorney for intoxicationBy Attorney Ray Dall’Osto

The intoxicating effects of alcohol and controlled substances (prescription and illegal) have been demonstrated to lower a person’s inhibitions, alter behavior, and impair a person’s mental and physical abilities, including the ability to operate motor vehicles steadily and safely.  Unfortunately, alcohol and substance use sometimes lead to situations where a person is arrested on criminal charges.  For example, in State v. Christen, 2021 WI 39, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment does not protect an intoxicated person's right to possession of a firearm for self-defense, in a drunken altercation with roommates inside defendant’s residence). 

If you have been arrested while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may wonder whether your state of intoxication could be a mitigating factor or perhaps even be raised as a defense that might help avoid a conviction. At first glance, it seems reasonable that the effects of a substance on a person’s mental state would impact on specific intent and possibly absolve you of personal responsibility for your actions. However, in Wisconsin, this is only true under limited circumstances, because the legislature and courts have determined that the intoxication defense should be greatly limited on public policy grounds. Thus, it is important that you work with an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to determine whether such a defense may apply in your case.

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