15 Reasons to Consult a Family Law Attorney

A family law attorney can be invaluable when navigating through any family law situation. There are so many questions that can arise in these situations, “How do I file for divorce?” “When can I modify my child support?” “How can I see my child more?”

These are just a few of the many questions that a family lawyer can answer. A family lawyer can also initiate processes that can resolve any issues. When contacting  local family law attorneys, ask them:

  • Do you have experience with my kind of case (i.e. child custody, divorce, etc.)? How long have you practiced law?
  • How long have you practiced in my area?
  • What is the cost of the first meeting or initial consultation?
  • What information should I bring to the first meeting?
  • What costs should I expect? Is there a retainer that I need to pay? If so, when is the retainer due?
  • Are there other members of your firm that could be handling my case?
  • Do you offer alternatives other than going to court? (If filing for divorce, ask the family law firm if they offer these  divorce alternatives.)
  • Should I email or call you? When will I hear from you next?

Your First Family Law Attorney Appointment

At the first meeting with the family lawyer, come as organized as possible. Family law attorneys need all the information about the situation; clients should bring as much documentation as possible including (but not limited to):

  • List of documented interactions and actions by each party (if applicable)
  • Related documentation to the divorce, custody, or other situation
  • Financial documents related to the matter (i.e. canceled checks, paystubs, taxes, etc.)

In addition, clients should have a list of questions they have about the situation. It may be helpful to write down these questions before the appointment to ensure that all questions are answered.

Situations a Family Law Attorney Can Help With

There are many situations that a family law attorney can assist with, including (but not limited to):

  • Filing for divorce
  • Seeking an  annulment/annulled marriage
  • Initiating  mediation (in lieu of a traditional divorce)
  • Filing for legal separation
  • Child custody modification
  • Drafting a child custody agreement
  • Child support modification
  • Paternity questions
  • Spousal support issues
  • Dividing property among spouses
  • Same-sex/domestic partnership issues
  • Requesting visitation with children by a third party (i.e. grandparent, relative, etc.)
  • Terminating parental rights
  • Divorce agreement modification
  • Initiating a  collaborative divorce 

Annulment vs. Divorce: What’s the difference in Wisconsin?

wedding ring back in box after legal separationAnnulments and divorces may be related concepts—and may seem to be the synonymous—but in reality, they are two different Wisconsin legal proceedings. Both of these processes end a marriage, though an annulment is different in a very key way. An annulled marriage in essence never happened, while a divorce ends the marriage. There are a few other differences as well, which we have outlined below. To find out which process is right for you, contact a lawyer to find out what applies to your situation.


One of the key benefits of an annulment is that there is no waiting period, whereas in Wisconsin there is a four-month waiting period before anything can be heard. To be granted an annulment, the couple must have solid legal standing to ask for an annulment, such as fraud, incapability to consent (impairment, etc.), underage, coercion, bigamy, impotence, incense, etc.

One party can file for an annulment, but they must have resided in Wisconsin for 30 days. After the annulment has been granted, the court decides key matters such as property division, alimony, etc. Children are still considered legitimate even though the marriage legally never happened.


A divorce is the ending of a marriage. While a divorce is filed in court just like an annulment, the process can be more complicated if the divorce is decided by the court. There are options for divorce that can expedite the process (faster than a litigated divorce), such as a mediation or collaborative divorce (find out about both divorce alternatives here).

In a divorce, a court can make decisions about property division, alimony, or child custody. In a mediation or collaborative divorce, both parties make these decisions with the assistance of their lawyers. A local lawyer can help you decide what process is right for your marriage; an experienced lawyer can guide both parties, or one party, through the mediation, collaborative divorce, or litigated divorce.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.