By: Christopher Henry, Attorney
There are many types of mediation. This blog will only address the most common forms of mediation in Wisconsin Family Law.
Typically, when the parties cannot agree on placement or custody issues, the Court will initially refer the parties to meet with a mediator. Mediation is generally mandatory although the Court can refrain from ordering mediation in cases involving domestic abuse. In Dane County, the mediator is usually a member of the Family Court Services staff. Almost always this mediation is done without attorneys present. The parties and mediator then meet for usually an hour or more to see if the issues can be resolved. If not, then, at least in initial divorce proceedings, the Court will usually appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child or children’s best interests and make a recommendation as to what placement and custody terms are in the children’s best interests. In Dane County, the Court will typically refer the matter to Family Court Services for a custody study as well.
For financial issues which cannot be resolved through negotiations, the Dane County Bar Association sponsors the Dane County Case Mediation Program in which the lawyers choose a third attorney, from a list of volunteer attorneys, to serve as a mediator. The parties, attorneys and mediator then meet for usually about three hours to see if the financial issues can be resolved. Most cases I have taken to mediation do settle, largely because if it fails then the only way to resolve the issues is generally a trial before the judge assigned to the case. Therefore, even in contentious cases, the parties often do settle in order to avoid the expense and risk of trial.
By: Laura Ayala, Paralegal
Attorney fees and retainers can be an overwhelming thought as well as an expense that no one is thrilled to incur. Some folks opt to proceed “pro se” or act as their own legal counsel for divorces and other types of matters. Is this a good idea? To answer that question I must first share with you that I have been a paralegal for Attorney Christopher Henry for 12+ years and I have rolled up my sleeves and participated in many family law cases in Dane, Columbia, Sauk, Rock and Green Counties to name a few. My observations and experiences lead me to believe that the cost of having a knowledgeable attorney and supporting staff outweighs the possibility of risky outcomes of navigating the legal system alone. Like an insurance policy, sound legal representation can protect you and guide you toward a favorable outcome that you may not have been able to obtain if you were “pro se.” Does that mean that you must purchase a million dollar policy to have good legal representation? No. Henry Family Law Offices understands that we work for the client and we respect and want our clients’ full participation in their legal matters. If you already have a legal situation and you have been pro se with a bad result, not all is lost. Give us a call to discuss possible solutions and let us help you get on a more secure path.
By: Laura Ayala, Paralegal/Office Manager
So many things impact on how long a divorce will take that making a prediction as to when the process will be completed is not easily determined. As with any complex situation, the willingness of everyone to work together will have a direct relationship with how long the entire process will take. There are times when an impasse develops that is not easily remedied. Having and knowing the right mechanisms and having trusting and proven resources can become important during such times. For years, Attorney Christopher Henry at Henry Family Law Offices, LLC, has worked diligently to identify and form relationships with other professional connections and resources that can keep legal matters moving as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Whether a pension needs valuation, a property needs appraising or calculating maintenance figures are part of a divorce, Henry Family Law Offices, LLC has the tools, resources and relationships to resolve such matters quickly and fairly for our clients.
By: Laura Ayala – Office Manager/Paralegal
Law offices, like other businesses, have a certain style and feel to them. There really isn’t a one size fits all in the legal world. Therefore, Henry Family Law Offices offers complimentary consultations to potential clients so they can be confident that they are in the right place for their family law needs. We want potential clients to know that we can meet and exceed their expectations and if a legal situation is not in our wheelhouse, we will do our best to route potential clients to the type of lawyer that they do need. Henry Family Law Offices prides itself on referrals as that is the biggest compliment to our law firm. We know that in order to be referred, we must provide outstanding service. For us, this begins with the first inquiry and the initial consultation. If you are considering or are going through a divorce, a custody & placement issue, a paternity matter, a grandparent rights situation, a post judgment matter, are in need of prenuptial assistance or have a family law concern, we invite you to call us today to set up your complimentary meet and greet consultation.
By: Laura Ayala, Paralegal
If you are calling a lawyer to discuss a divorce, you are probably doing so with a heavy heart. Of course there are reasons that you are taking this next step and we want to help. Some people come in to talk with an attorney and decide that divorce is not the right answer for them. Others decide to proceed with a divorce because they are ready to take this step. Still others return months later because they gave their marriage one last try and it just didn’t work out. At Henry Family Law Offices, LLC we understand that the life choices you are making are serious and we respect the decisions you are making for your marriage and your family. Our goal, if you decide to proceed with a divorce, is to guide you through the legal process so that you are treated fairly and have a knowledgeable advocate to protect your best interests. We invite you to give us a call to discuss your legal matter so that you can better decide what path is best for you.
By Christopher Henry
You may have heard it said that Wisconsin is a “no fault” divorce state. It is true that in Wisconsin divorce proceedings, there is a presumption that all property will be divided equally and generally without regard to marital misconduct.
However, where misconduct has had direct financial consequences, the Court does have the discretion to consider an unequal division of assets. The Court does have the power to take excessive gambling losses into account and award the non-gambling spouse more than ½ of the estate under the theory that the person who did not gamble should be protected from the financial consequences of the gambling spouse’s conduct. If the gambling was caused by a medical or psychological problem such as a gambling addiction, the Court may also take that into account and still divide property equally. Such determinations may depend on whether the spouse with the gambling addiction sought treatment for the addiction or made other attempts to correct their behavior. The Court is also more likely to deviate from an equal division of property where there is accurate documentation as to the value of assets lost through gambling. It may be possible to obtain records of winnings or losses from a gambling establishment.
If there has been a depletion of assets due to gambling by you or your spouse, it is important to bring this issue to the attention of your attorney so that the proper evidence may be developed and appropriate arguments made.
For additional information about this blog post or your family law related matters, please contact Henry Family Law Offices, LLC at 6080836-0980 or e-mail office manager – Laura Ayala at Laura@henrylaw.net.
By: Laura Ayala
When going through a break-up there is often a dog, a cat or another pet that needs to be considered. For some, who will keep or have primary placement of the family pet is of utmost importance and can become an area of conflict that could result in the need for negotiations or contested hearings. Of course, some folks may scoff at such a notion but for us pet lovers, this is no laughing matter. At Henry Family Law Offices, LLC we have experience in resolving pet matters and conflicts due to divorce or ending relationships and we want to help you. As the office manager, paralegal and bottle washer at Henry Family Law Offices, LLC, I am the proud owner of two dogs – Sparky the Wonder Dog (a.k.a. Bear) and Selena Felice Ayala (very naughty but soooo adorable) and two cats – “The baby” who once weighed in at 22 pounds and Josie (sweet as pie). I typically assist the attorneys on most of their cases and I am a strong advocate for pet owners. Give us a call if you are in the midst of making a decision about your pet due to a divorce or an ending relationship and see if we can help.
By: Laura Ayala
You have worked hard and planned together for your future but now your future is on shaky ground due to a possible divorce. Suddenly things like pensions, retirements, property and investments are matters that need to be looked at and you feel as if you are placing your future in the hands of strangers. At Henry Family Law Offices, LLC we have considerable knowledge on financial matters that can be impacted by divorce and yet we also know when and who to use as resources and experts in complex financial matters. Moreover, we also know that you too have taken great care and consideration in planning for your future and we want you actively involved with understanding the facts and figures of your financial situation from start to finish. Give Henry Family Law Offices, LLC a call and kick our tires to see that we are the right law firm for you.
Henry Family Law Offices, LLC is a full service family law practice that can accommodate and efficiently handle even the most difficult divorce or family law matter. However, we understand that not every family matter requires 10 rounds in the ring! Therefore, Henry Family Law Offices, LLC also offers a cafeteria type legal service that focuses on family law matters that may only require an attorney for a smaller family situation. The retainers at Henry Family Law Offices, LLC are based on anticipated work needed to help resolve your legal matter and can vary depending on the nature of your case. We pride ourselves on working with our clients to get the results they want at an affordable price. Please feel free to give us a call to discuss options that are available to you for all facets of your family law needs.
By Christopher Henry
If you are going through a divorce and either you or your spouse has received substantial assets by way of gift or inheritance, it is important for you to alert your attorney to this fact. Your attorney should then be able to make your best arguments in negotiations or trial as to whether the inherited or gifted assets should or should not be considered part of what will be divided between you and your spouse.
Under Wisconsin law, assets received through inheritance and assets received by gift (not including gifts given by one spouse to the other) are presumptively exempt from division. However, the Court may divide inherited property if it finds that not dividing the property will cause financial hardship to the other spouse.
The Court may also divide inherited property if it finds sufficient evidence that the spouse who inherited the assets or received the gift had the intent of treating the inherited or gifted asset as marital property. For instance, if a wife inherits $50,000 from her father but then puts the money into an account held jointly with her husband, the Court may well find that the wife intended for these inherited funds to be part of the overall marital estate and therefore subject to division by the Court. Even if inherited funds were only held in a joint account for a few days, there is the possibility that the Court may find the funds have lost their individual property status and deem them to be part of the marital estate to be divided in the divorce.
For additional information about this blog post or your family law related matters, please contact Henry Family Law Offices, LLC at (608)836-0980 or e-mail office manager – Laura Ayala at Laura@henrylaw.net.