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 Divorce Questions Answered

typewriter typing divorce agreement after collaborative divorceHow long does it take to get a divorce in Wisconsin?

The exact length of the divorce is different for every couple. There is a required 120 day waiting period in Wisconsin before the divorce is granted. In general, a divorce usually takes six months to a year to be finalized.

What do I do if I want a divorce?

A petition must be filed in the county of residency. After, the spouse is served with divorce papers. If you want a divorce from your spouse, it’s best to consult with an attorney to determine what option is right for your situation, what the next step is, and what documentation is needed to finalize the divorce.

Is everything I tell my lawyer during a divorce on the record?

This is one of the most common myths about divorce: that the spouse is going to know about your visits and the information you give during your meeting with your lawyer.  The truth is that all of your visits to your lawyer—and everything you say at the meetings—is confidential. Everything said is between you and your lawyer.

Can I get an annulment instead of a divorce?

An annulment is a decree that makes it seem like there never was a marriage, whereas a divorce is a legal end to a marriage. 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. (More information about the difference between an annulment and a divorce can be found here, but the best way to find out if your marriage can be annulled is to contact a lawyer.)

Do I have to go to court for my divorce?

Typically, there are court appearances required during a divorce. However, the amount of time needed varies depending on whether you choose mediation, a collaborative divorce, or a litigated divorce.

What are my divorce options?

You don’t have to have a highly-contested divorce like you commonly see on TV. There are other options for divorce in Wisconsin, including mediation, collaborative divorce, or litigation. (More information on divorce options here. Contact a local lawyer to discuss and decide which option for divorce is right for your situation.)

During mediation, the couple meets with the mediator to come to a mutual agreement in all important areas, such as finances and property. For the process to work, the couple needs to be able to agree without a significant amount of dispute (which may mean this is not right for all couples).

When a collaborative divorce is chosen, each spouse hires a lawyer to represent them. The lawyers and spouses set the meetings to discuss important areas, and may bring in experts to resolve issues (such as an accountant or child custody specialist). In a collaborative divorce, there is some time spent in a courtroom but that time is minimal because major issues have been decided.

The third option for divorce in Wisconsin involves more court dates, and is the typical process for a couple who cannot decide on key issues. A divorce cannot be finalized until all key issues (i.e. financial, child custody, etc.) are resolved.

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.