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courtroom-1-1236725-1278x855-3-300x201When dealing with family law matters, it can be difficult to ascertain the true interests of the parties and all those affected, without conducting an evidentiary hearing. While briefs and motions can be carefully crafted in order to present the story from a party’s particular perspective, hearings are often necessary to understand the full details of a situation and the true impact that any changes to a custody order, or maintenance plan, are likely to have on those involved. At the same time, courts are often constrained by time and resources from conducting hearings on every occasion, and may opt instead to hold hearings only in those cases where they are most necessary. A recent case before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals looks at whether courts are required to hold hearings in some circumstances and whether that is a basis for appeal.

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familyChild custody and placement can be one of the most contentious aspects of any divorce. Parents feel strongly about spending time with their kids and having a long-lasting and healthy relationship with them. Splitting time between both spouses can make that difficult and can lead to anger and resentment between ex-spouses. In a recent case before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the court considered what to do when one spouse asks to modify the child custody arrangement to which she previously agreed.

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babyIn Wisconsin, when a parent is unwilling or unfit to take care of his or her child, the parental rights of the individual may be terminated through special proceedings. The termination of parental rights is governed by statute and is taken very seriously, since it can have a huge impact on both the life of the child and the life of the parents. A recent case before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals considers the question of what to do when lower courts deviate from termination of parental rights procedures.

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blue houseWhen dealing with a divorce in Wisconsin, courts must give careful consideration to the division of existing property, assets, and debts that a couple may have, as well as how to divide future obligations and income, if necessary. While Wisconsin courts typically start from the presumption that marital property should be divided equally between two spouses, such arrangements can be modified when it would be in the interest of the courts and the couple to do so. A recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals case considered and applied a creative approach for resolving spousal maintenance issues between a couple by instead offering one spouse an additional lump sum property award.

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domestic violenceDomestic violence charges are a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Even being charged (not convicted) could lead you to lose your job and your reputation. Domestic violence charges are typically brought when the victim and perpetrator are in some type of relationship. It can be marriage, a civil union, or even simply a couple that is dating. Domestic violence takes place when one person inflicts physical or emotional harm on another. It can also encompass causing damage to someone else’s property or threatening to cause such harm.

Under Wisconsin law, domestic violence occurs when a person inflicts pain or injury, commits a sexual assault, or commits a physical act that causes the victim fear of any pain, injury, or sexual abuse. Depending on the nature and severity of the domestic violence, an individual can be charged with any of the following crimes:  misdemeanor battery, felony battery, disorderly conduct, criminal damage to property, false imprisonment, kidnapping, and stalking. In some states, violence against family or household members is punished more severely. This is not the case in Wisconsin unless the perpetrator is a repeat offender.

A police officer in the state must make an arrest and take the defendant into custody if the officer reasonably believes that the perpetrator has committed an act of domestic violence against a spouse, former spouse, girlfriend, a person with whom the defendant resides,  a person with whom the defendant has previously resided, or a person with whom the defendant has children, assuming that any of the three following factors apply. These are the likelihood of continued abuse, evidence of physical injury to the victim, or evidence that the defendant is the predominant aggressor when the relationship is examined as a whole. Continue reading →