Dying Without a Will: 4 Things to Know in Wisconsin

dying without a will

When someone dies without a will, the question eventually is asked, “who receives the deceased’s estate?” Wisconsin has  intestacy laws that dictate who receives the deceased’s assets when there is no will. (This is one of the key reasons to draft a will; a person can name beneficiaries to receive assets.) This post highlights key points that family members should know about the situation when a person dies without a will. For information specific to the exact situation, consult an  experienced estate planning lawyer.

The exact distribution of the assets depends on the spouse and descendants.

When a deceased person is survived by a spouse and descendants, it is important to know the difference between community and separate property. Community property applies to assets acquired during the marriage (with a few exceptions). Separate property might include assets acquired before the marriage or by inheritance.

There are several inheritance situations that apply when a deceased’s spouse and children are alive:

  • If there is only a spouse, the probate estate goes to the spouse.
  • If the descendants are the deceased’s and spouse’s, the probate estate goes to the spouse.
  • If the descendants are the deceased’s, but not the deceased’s and spouse’s, the probate estate is split between the spouse and the descendants.

Descendants eligible to receive the deceased’s estate include biological and adopted children. Stepchildren not legally adopted by the deceased and biological children adopted by another party are not included in the estate distribution.

There is a procedure for situations where the deceased is not married.

When the deceased is not married and does not have any descendants, there are two common inheritance situations:

  • If the deceased is survived by their parents, the parents inherit the probate estate.
  • If the deceased is not survived by their parents but is survived by their siblings, the siblings inherit the probate estate.

There are exceptions to these situations, such as if a relative intentionally causes the deceased’s death or does not live 120 hours after the deceased’s death. To see if other exceptions apply, you should speak to an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Some assets may not be included in the estate.

Not all assets are part of the inheritance. If the asset is part of a living trust or is an asset with a named beneficiary, the asset goes to the named beneficiary. Some real estate, 401Ks, and other accounts may not follow intestate succession.

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.

Motorcycle Accidents: An After the Accident Checklist

motorcycle accidents

The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be quite traumatic. In a moment, a motorcyclist can go from enjoying the ride to dealing with the pain of injuries and serious damage to the bike.

In the midst of dealing with both of those motorcycle accident problems, there are also future legal proceedings to keep in mind—which can be incredibly difficult at a chaotic accident scene. In addition to medical bills and bike repair, pedestrians may also receive compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering resulting from a motorcycle accident. This checklist can help any motorcyclist get through the moments, days, and years after a motorcycle accident (and receive fair compensation).

What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident

___ Stay in the same spot (safely).
If it is possible to say safe doing so, try to stay in the same place after an accident (the bike too). The placement of the bike and all parties involved can be an important part of determining fault.

___ Call the police.
As soon as possible, contact the police. While waiting for them to arrive, don’t make any statements to the other involved parties or bystanders. Even small statements, such as “I don’t know what happened” or “I shouldn’t have…” can be misunderstood as an admission of fault.

___ Collect photos and information.
While at the accident scene, collect as much information as possible. Motorcyclists should collect insurance and contact information from other parties involved and bystanders. In addition, motorcyclists should take photos of the scene, nearby buildings and landmarks, injuries, and motorcycle damage.

___ Seek medical care.
Some accidents are visible and obvious, requiring immediate medical attention. Other accident injuries are not as evident right away and may take days for symptoms to appear. No matter what the type of injury, motorcyclists should always seek medical care as soon as it is obvious there is a problem. This could include a ride in the ambulance at the scene or a visit to a clinic days after. Motorcyclists should always keep all documentation (i.e. medical and bills) from the appointments for later reference.

___ Keep all motorcycle accident documentation on file.
After a motorcycle accident, motorcyclists receive documentation for bike repair, hospital and clinic care, chiropractor appointments, insurance matters, and any other accident matters. Even receipts for medications can be helpful when seeking compensation for injuries from a motorcycle accident. All of this paperwork can be an important part of future communications and proceedings.

___ Contact the insurance company.
Motorcyclists should always contact the insurance company that covers the bike, but should always keep in mind that communications are not confidential. As in all statements at the scene, motorcyclists should not admit fault to insurance agents and representatives.

___ Talk to an experienced lawyer.
After many motorcycle accidents, motorcyclists may receive offers from insurance companies that may not cover all the expenses caused by the accident. Even if the initial offer sounds fair, it can still make sense for a motorcyclist to  contact an experienced local lawyer to get information about compensation specific to the case and  Wisconsin shared fault law, which means that the fault of each driver is calculated and parties are responsible for their share of the expenses. An experienced personal injury lawyer can give you advice on how to proceed to receive fair compensation.

How to Prevent Future Motorcycle Accidents

  • Wear visible motorcycling gear (including bright clothing and a helmet reflector).
  • Make sure other drivers see you when driving.
  • Don’t drink and ride.
  • Drive safely.
  • Wear safety gear when riding (including a helmet, goggles or helmet shield, long sleeve jacket, long pants, and motorcycle boots).
  • Purchase a quality helmet.
  • Pay attention to the weather before and during riding.
  • Watch the road closely for sand, potholes, and excessive gravel that can cause an accident.
  • Take a  Wisconsin motorcycle safety course.
  • Look twice at intersections, proceed once.
  • Most importantly, drive safe and enjoy the ride!


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.

Wisconsin Estate Planning Documents You Need

estate planning documents

Estate planning is a necessary part of preparing for the future. However, in the here and now, the necessity of estate planning documents may not be incredibly apparent. Unfortunately, it often takes the worst-case scenarios to bring the importance of estate planning to light.

This post outlines estate planning documents every Wisconsin resident should draft before they are needed and why it is so important to make  estate planning a top priority.

Will

This estate planning document is one of the most well-known and well-misunderstood. There are several  misconceptions surrounding wills, but its also one of the most-needed estate planning tools.

A will is a legal tool for a person to express their wishes when they cannot. Unfortunately, verbal expressions are not enough to spur action in the State of Wisconsin. For example, telling a relative they can have an heirloom does not make the item exempt from a battle among family members.

People can use a will to detail these wishes:

  • Which persons or organizations should receive assets from the estate
  • Which person is responsible for the care of minors in the household (if the other parent should also be incapacitated)
  • The person or organization that serves as the executor of the estate and is responsible for settling the estate (including distributing assets)
  • If a trust is established for asset distribution


If there is no will drafted for an estate, the distribution of assets and settling of debts is handled by other parties who may not follow the wishes of the decedent. In Wisconsin, a legal will must be drafted (ideally by an  estate planning professional) and signed by the individual as well as two witnesses. The witnesses should not be beneficiaries who receive assets as spelled out in the will or lawful heirs of the estate. It is also recommended that the will is stored in a safe location in the full knowledge of a trusted person.

Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney designates a party who can make financial decisions when an estate owner is unable to do so. This is essential for situations when a person is sick or hurt, and financial matters need to be handled during this time. The lack of a Durable Power Attorney can leave family and friends struggling during what can be a very difficult time.

A Durable Power of Attorney is only applicable when a person is alive; this power ends when the person dies. The person can express in the document what financial matters can be handled. A Durable Power of Attorney can give an agent the right to purchase and sell real estate, pay for expenses, and sign legal documents on the individual’s behalf.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a separate estate planning document from the Durable Power of Attorney. This estate planning document designates an agent to make healthcare decisions for another. This agent can be the same as the will executor, party named in the Durable Power of Attorney, or can be another party.

This estate planning document can be incredibly important when a person cannot make the decisions or express their wishes because of a health issue. In these cases, a agent can make decisions and carry out any wishes previously stated.

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.

3 Wisconsin Probate Myths Explained

Wisconsin probate

Probate is the court-supervised process in Wisconsin through which the assets from an estate are distributed. There are both Formal and Informal Probates, the formality dictates how involved the Court is in the process. This process can be lengthy and complicated or it can be short and smooth; there are steps that can be set up to ensure the process is the latter.

Unfortunately, many Wisconsin families are not aware of those steps or are held back by misconceptions about probate. An experienced estate planning lawyer can assist with the steps needed to make the time after a death easier for the family. This post can help clear up the most common misconceptions about Wisconsin probate proceedings.

Myth 1: Every estate goes into probate

Most estates are subject to probate. During the probate process, creditors have three months to file claims against the estate. There are also income taxes to file; the exact details of income tax filings depend on the estate.

However, there are some estates that do not go through the probate process. If the amount of the estate is under the  Wisconsin threshold, the estate is not subject to the probate process. Some assets in an estate may not be subject to probate.

Myth 2: There is no way to avoid probate

As discussed above, not all estates are subject to probate. Even if an estate is going through the probate process, not all assets in the estate may be part of the process. These assets may include accounts with a beneficiary designation, assets included in a trust, or property that is jointly owned. In a joint ownership, property automatically passes to the second party named in the joint ownership.

It should be noted that accounts are only excluded from probate IF the owner has specifically named beneficiaries. This is one of several estate planning steps that can make the process easier for friends and family members after a death.

revocable living trust is another way to make the distribution of assets smoother during a difficult time. Certain items of the estate are placed into a revocable living trust; the “revocable” label means the trust can be revoked at any time. There are three parties named for management and distribution of the assets: a settlor, trustee, and beneficiary (or beneficiaries). The settlor is the individual who owns the assets. The trustee manages those assets when the guarantor is alive or becomes unable to do so. The beneficiaries are the parties designated to receive those assets. A trust can be established with the assistance of an experienced estate planning lawyer. Even with a trust, a will should still be drafted to detail the distribution of other assets not included in the trust.

Myth 3: During probate, the court is responsible for every part of estate distribution

This common estate planning myth is partially true. Probate is a court-supervised proceeding, but the distribution of assets is executed by a personal representative usually named in the will. If a personal representative is not named in the will, the court appoints an executor.

The will can designate any party as the personal representative. The personal representative can be a friend, family member, or organization. A personal representative can also consult a lawyer to assist with the process. The personal representative is charged with compiling a list of assets, managing creditor claims, and distributing assets. Because this is a multi-step process, the probate process may take a year or more.

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.

Hit by a Car? What to Do if You’re Injured

hit by a car injuries

For pedestrians and drivers, being hit by a car comes with injuries and serious consequences. As wonderful as cars are, those thousands of pounds of metal can lead to substantial property damage and medical bills. The time after a car accident with these serious consequences can be incredibly traumatizing and expensive. That’s why we’ve put together a list of steps to take after being hit by a car.

Be safe

An accident scene can be chaotic. If it is possible—without injuring yourself or endangering others—don’t move after an accident. For pedestrians, this advice can also be helpful in preventing any further injuries and can also prove that the pedestrian was crossing in a safe manner. Never leave the scene of the accident, which can incur serious legal consequences.

Keep statements to a minimum

After an accident, there are so many emotions and thoughts running through everyone’s heads. Even small statements, like “I shouldn’t have been crossing,” “I’m not hurt,” or “I’m so sorry” can be misconstrued and brought up later.

Contact the police

Any incident between a car and a pedestrian—or any vehicle hit by a car—is a serious matter that should involve the police. After being hit by a car, one or all parties involved should call the police.

Seek medical assistance for any injuries

The injuries from being hit by a car are not always clear after the accident. Those injuries caused by being hit by a car may include (but are not limited to):

  • Fractures,
  • Whiplash,
  • Head injuries,
  • Wounds,
  • Internal injuries

Often, symptoms of injuries from being hit by a car may not show up immediately and may take time to appear. For this reason, pedestrians and drivers should always get medical care as soon as they suspect any issues.

Keep all paperwork (for possibly months and years)

Being hit by a car comes with a lot of paperwork, such as police reports, insurance paperwork, and medical bills. While it may seem inconvenient to do so, pedestrians and drivers should collect and store all those documents for future reference. Even receipts for medications can be helpful when seeking compensation for injuries after being hit by a car. In addition to medical bills, pedestrians can also receive compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering. (Talk to a personal injury lawyer for more information about compensation after being hit by a car.)

Wait to talk to the insurance company

Just as statements at the scene of a car accident can be misconstrued, so can statements made to the insurance company. Some insurance companies also may make low-ball offers that don’t completely cover all the expenses incurred from being hit by a car. Instead, if there are significant expenses, consult a personal injury lawyer before talking to the insurance company. An experienced personal injury lawyer can give you advice on how to proceed to receive fair compensation.

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.

When to Contact & Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

when to hire a personal injury lawyers

Personal injury lawyers are more than just car accident lawyers. In fact, it is wise to contact and hire a personal injury lawyers for any case involving an injury resulting from a negligent or reckless action of another party. This can be any kind of incident (see list of possible personal injury cases) where someone is injured and needs compensation to cover any expenses that arise—and may continue to arise—related to the injury.

All personal injury accident victims should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

What kind of cases do personal injury lawyers handle?

Most people think of personal injury lawyers after a car accident. The list of personal injury cases could include, but is not limited to:

  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Car, Truck and Automobile Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Boat and Personal Watercraft Accidents
  • Bus, Semi-Truck and Other Vehicle Accidents
  • Slip and Fall Accidents
  • Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Farm Accidents
  • Construction Accidents
  • Workplace Accidents and Worker’s Compensation
  • Defective Products and Product Liability
  • Wrongful Death
  • Insurance Claims
  • Nursing Home Abuse
  • Broken Bones
  • Homeowner Liability
  • Medical Malpractice

An experienced personal injury lawyer is an important asset and guide when navigating through the process. The right personal injury lawyer can answer questions and advocate for the highest and fairest amount of compensation.

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.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident (with Checklist)

steps to take after a car accident

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, drivers are involved in more than 100,000 traffic crashes every year. Unfortunately, many of those car accidents result in injuries and significant medical expenses; both circumstances warrant legal consultation.

There are steps drivers can take moments after the accident that can be beneficial for drivers, both personally and financially. Because the time after a car accident can be overwhelming, we’ve listed the steps to take after an accident in a simple checklist.

Do an initial check after the car accident

___Don’t move the vehicle (unless it is unsafe to stay in place). Wait for a police officer to give instructions to move the vehicle.
___If possible, turn on vehicle flashers so the vehicle is visible to other motorists. ___Assess the condition of everyone in the vehicle and determine if anyone is hurt. (Remember, that not all car accident injuries are immediately evident.)
___Call 9-1-1 to report the accident.
___Seek medical attention if anyone is hurt.

Collect information

___Take pictures of the accident scene (if possible). (Try to get photos of the scene, vehicles, vehicle damage, and the surrounding area.)
___Gather information from the other driver: name, phone number, address, and insurance information. (Do not say anything else, as this may negatively impact financial compensations later.)
___Get the name and information of any eyewitnesses (or license plate number).

Answer questions

___Give information to emergency responders, including name, license, car registration, insurance information, and instructions for towing.
___Mention any injuries or pain to emergency responders.

Schedule follow-up appointments

___Make appointments to address medical needs and long-term care after the accident (i.e. doctor, physical therapy, chiropractor, etc.) (Be aware that some injuries show up days after the accident. Take photos of all injuries.)
___Schedule a meeting with a local, experienced car accident lawyer to discuss the specifics of the accident. (Bring these documents to the meeting.)
___Contact the auto insurance company to notify them of the accident.
___Never talk to the other driver’s insurance company until AFTER consulting a lawyer. (Ask the lawyer what information should be given to the insurance company.)

Collect documents

___Save documents related to the accident, including receipts, police reports, medical bills, and insurance documents.
___Consult with the lawyer about any deadlines that need to be met after an auto accident.

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.

Accidents with Semi-Trucks: Key Questions Answered

accident with semi-truck

Accidents with semi-trucks are a fairly common sight on roads and highways. The Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that more than 6,000 accidents involved a large truck. Because of the large number of commercial trucks on the road and their sheer size, these accidents typically involve serious injuries and medical expenses.

If you have been in an accident with a semi-truck consult with an attorney immediately.

After being hit by a commercial truck, some drivers may decide to deal with the insurance companies on their own. There is significant risk to this approach, as many insurance companies may try to settle the case for as low as possible. Contact an attorney before speaking with the insurance company or trucking company representative.

What steps can help get a fair accident settlement?

After an accident with a semi-truck, drivers can take steps that increases their chance for a fair settlement:

  • Leave the car where it stops (unless it is unsafe to do so).
  • Contact the police as soon as it is safe.
  • Remain in the vehicle until the police officer arrives (unless it is unsafe to do so).
  • Do not make any statements to anyone (bystanders or the other driver) about the accident.
  • Ask the other driver for their name, address, car license plate number, contact information, and insurance company and policy information.
  • If it is safe, take pictures of the accident scene and landmarks around it.
  • Try to collect the contact information of everyone who saw the accident.
  • Always seek medical attention for injuries after the accident (immediately after and days after). Some accident injuries take a few days before symptoms occur.
  • Take pictures of any injuries related the accident.
  • Avoid talking to other insurance companies until after consulting a lawyer.
  • Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer if there is property damage and medical expenses related to the accident.

What expenses can be covered by compensation?

After an accident with a semi-truck, drivers can be compensated for accident-related expenses, such as (but not limited to):

  • property damage,
  • medical expenses,
  • pain and suffering,
  • future lost income
  • lost wages

To receive a fair accident settlement, drivers should try to keep all paperwork related to the accident and give it to their personal injury lawyer. All documentation can be helpful, such as (but not limited to):

  • Police report
  • Trucking company name and address (this may be included in the accident report)
  • Medical bills
  • Photographs
  • Citations arising from the accident
  • Insurance documents and contact information (from both drivers)

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.

When to Contact a Wisconsin Auto Accident Lawyer

Auto Accident Lawyer

The time after a car accident can be very uncertain and overwhelming. There is so much information to sift through and so many unanswered questions about the accident and when to consult a car accident lawyer. We hear questions from clients involved in auto accidents every day, and have compiled a list of general information and tips. It is important to note that this information is not specific to any situation. To get that information, contact an experienced, local car accident attorney.

What to do after a car accident

There are many different types of car accidents and reasons for the accidents. Though the circumstances vary, keep in mind that all actions and words may be brought up later in legal proceedings and could impact any settlement amounts. When an accident happens, follow these steps:

  • Do not move the car unless it needs to happen for safety reasons.
  • Unless it is unsafe to do so, stay in the vehicle until a police officer arrives.
  • Call the police.
  • Take pictures of the scene safely. Try to take pictures of the position of the vehicles, skid marks, damage, and other landmarks or relevant markings (i.e. speed limit signs, stoplights, etc.)
  • Do not say anything to anyone at the car accident scene.
  • Ask eye witnesses for their contact information.
  • Get the name, address, car license plate number, contact information, and insurance company and policy information.
  • Answer questions and give contact information to the police.
  • Be open with emergency responders about aches and pains arising from the accident.
  • Seek medical assistance for all injuries in the days following the accident. (Some injuries, especially soft tissue injuries may take a few days to notice.)
  • Take photos of injuries.
  • Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company until talking to a lawyer.

When to contact a lawyer about a car accident

In general terms, anyone involved in a car accident and suffered injuries should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

In Wisconsin, the driver considered at-fault is responsible for compensating other drivers for property damage, medical bills, physical pain and suffering, loss of wages and future income, and any other expenses stemming from the accident. If the accident involved minor injuries or property damage that were resolved shortly, drivers may decide to deal with the insurance companies on their own. There is some risk to this approach, as many insurance companies may try to settle the case for as low as possible.

Working with an Auto Accident Lawyer

Before the first meeting with an auto accident attorney, clients can prepare by collecting all information about the car accident, including (but not limited to):

  • Police report
  • Medical bills
  • Photographs
  • Citations arising from the accident
  • Insurance documents and contact information (from both drivers)

As a trial attorney who is experienced in handling all types of personal injury accident cases against negligent drivers and their insurance company, I can assist in making sure you are compensated for your injuries and damages.

The immediate aftermath of an accident is a very stressful and emotional time. Even a minor “fender bender” can cause significant and long lasting physical and emotional injuries. After the accident, you will suddenly be asked questions about how the accident happened, your driver’s license, registration, auto insurance, injuries, towing and storage of your vehicle, and all of these will be asked while you have that splitting headache, backache, and/or neck pain. This is why it is important to know what to do if you are ever involved in an accident.

If there is any doubt in your mind that you may be injured, you should request medical assistance. Whether this involves calling for an ambulance or simply transporting yourself to the nearest hospital or urgent care center, you should do so. Follow the advice of medical personnel who arrive on the scene. They will begin the process of documenting your injuries. Do not minimize the physical and emotional trauma you or your loved one has just gone through. All statements, such as “I am alright” which you make immediately after the accident, will and can work against you.

Do not ignore or downplay your potential injuries. Generally, the third or fourth day after an accident you will feel your worst. Most soft tissue injuries (whiplash) are muscle strain and sprain related. They may not become completely symptomatic for the first 48 to 72 hours. You should see a medical practitioner who is familiar with your medical history before making any definitive statement about whether or not you were injured or how you feel. Remember, you were not injured before the accident. You should tell your doctor of any change in your physical or emotional health.

Do not accept offers of “early” settlements. Before making any decision to settle or make a statement to the other party’s insurance company, you should always consult a trial attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury accident cases against negligent drivers and their insurance company.

There is no fee unless we win.

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