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 

All Your Legal Separation Questions Answered

wedding ring back in box after legal separationWhen you and your husband or wife is ready to separate, there are two legal options: legal separation and divorce.  Either option can leave you with a host of questions; we’ve tried to answer some of the most common questions about filing for legal separation (and divorce) in Wisconsin.  If you have any more questions or questions specific to your situation, schedule a consultation with a local and experienced attorney. 

What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?

A divorce indicates that a marriage is “irretrievably broken,” which indicates that there is no chance of reconciliation. Either party may legally marry after a divorce.

Under a legal separation, the court finds that the marriage is “broken” and there is no final divorce decree.  The legal separation can be set aside any time in the event of reconciliation.

One of the main commonalities of both a legal separation and a divorce is that both initiate discussions of child placement and financial considerations between both parties.

Does my husband/wife get notified of consultations and meetings I have with an attorney?

No. All consultations and meetings are kept confidential, as is all information conveyed with attorneys and staff.

How can I legally separate from my husband or wife in Wisconsin?

Either spouse can file for legal separation.  If both spouses file for legal separation or divorce, papers are not served to the other spouse as it would be if one party filed.  From date of filing, there is a 120 day waiting period until the final judgment (same as a divorce).

How does child custody get worked out?

If you have children, working out a schedule for child placement is part of the proceedings. Know these child custody terms to help you as you work through the process of deciding child placement and child custody matters.

How can we change a filed legal separation case to a divorce?

Because proceedings are similar, the change from a legal separation to a divorce can be made with a written request.

Does living apart qualify as legal separation?

No. Living in separate homes, dividing finances, and paying separate bills is not a legal separation only a physical one.  To be legally separated or divorced, there must be a filing.

Can we use the same attorney to save money? What is the cost of a legal separation or divorce?

The cost for each legal separation is different, depending on the specific circumstances of the parties involved.  Both spouses cannot use the same attorney for the proceedings because of ethics.  Often, you can schedule a free consultation about your legal separation or divorce with an attorney, where you can ask questions and your attorney can get information on the case (here’s how to get the most out of that initial meeting with your attorney).

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.