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 

Child Custody: 5 Legal Terms You MUST Know

Little daughter closing dads eyes with hands and laughing after child custody caseEvery state has different regulations regarding child custody; Wisconsin is no different.  That’s why it’s important to contact a lawyer when you have questions about your current or future child custodial issues, find out your rights, and the processes needed for your specific child custody case (some cases can be settled without going to court).  When you do contact a local attorney for your case, be prepared for these child custody and child support terms to come up during your consultation.

Sole Legal Custody

Legal custody does not mean the child is physically with you at all times, but it does mean full decision-making rights for all major decisions for the child. This could include where to send the child to school, religious preferences, or choosing their primary physician.

Joint Legal Custody

If this term comes up during your child custody proceedings, this means that both parties have the right to make major decisions for the child TOGETHER.  This arrangement means that each custodial party (typically each parent) needs to consult with each other on decisions that are above and beyond routine daily decisions.

Physical Placement

Physical placement is just what it says: a schedule of where the child lives if more than one party is granted placement, or the place where the child resides if there is one.  If you find that the other party/parent is not participating in the placement schedule—not taking the child as the schedule dictates—keep track of the dates and times missed. Contact your lawyer to have the placement schedule modified.

Child Support

Child support is the amount ordered by the court that a party should pay to cover the needs of the child or children.  Child support is not always determined by physical placement; the amount and party ordered to pay is decided by the court.  Child support payments can be used for costs related to sheltering the child (i.e. mortgage, rent, utility bills, etc.) or expenses directly related to the child’s care (i.e. clothing, food, etc.)  Non-cash child support can also be ordered in the form of health insurance.

Child Visitation

This is the right to visit the child, on a schedule or with stipulations ordered by the court. Parents, grandparents, or other significant parties can be granted child visitation.

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.