Traditional Divorce

When people think of divorce, the option that most often comes to mind is the traditional route. It is also the most common.  In the State of Wisconsin, a traditional divorce typically looks like this: One of the parties’ files to initiate the action. A temporary hearing can be requested to resolve temporary and immediate issues regarding matters such as child placement and finances. Often parties work out a stipulation or agreement on temporary issues and a hearing is not required, however it is an option the parties can exercise in the event it is needed.  The parties, through their attorneys, then exchange information. The process of exchanging information can be formal or informal depending on what information needs to be obtained, and the level of cooperation of the parties. The attorneys then engage in negotiation, a process of exchanging settlement proposals. This process may include settlement conferences where the parties and their attorneys meet to discuss and resolve the issues in their case. Sometimes parties will engage in mediation to find common ground. If the parties cannot reach a resolution on all the relevant issues in their case, then it will proceed to trial where a judge will listen to the testimony of the parties and issue final orders.  It is important to note that not all traditional divorces are adversarial in nature. Many begin and end amicably with roughly 98% of these divorces ending in settlement. For many couples, this approach is the most reasonable and appropriate process for their particular situation.

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Collaborative Divorce

A collaborative divorce is an approach in which a team of professionals (including attorneys, therapists and consultants) works together to help a couple end their marriage as peacefully and amicably as possible.  This method involves each party signing a formal agreement in which they agree to make a good faith attempt to reach a settlement without going to court (except to present the final agreement) and without having a judge or commissioner render a decision on the issues at any time throughout the divorce process.  From the outset, the parties agree that all pertinent financial information will be voluntarily shared.  A collaborative divorce may also involve other neutral professionals. One such professional is a divorce financial planner, he or she will help the team resolve financial issues and create a plan for financial stability in the future. Another professional utilized in the collaborative divorce is a child specialist.  A specialist will work with parents to create a plan detailing how decisions will be made and how time with children will be shared. The collaborative divorce approach can be beneficial, especially in case where the special needs of a child require creative solutions. The tools of the collaborative process can and are frequently used in traditional cases as well.  One significant difference is that in a collaborative process the parties agree that in the event either or both parties opt out of the collaborative process they are required under the terms of their collaborative agreement to obtain new legal counsel.   

We Specialize in the Following Areas

International

International divorce is a broad term and includes cases where parties live in the State of Wisconsin but may have lived or intend to relocate to other countries. In cases where parties have lived or intend to live separately in other countries, valuing and dividing existing assets such as retirement plans can be extremely complex. One way to meet this challenge is to collaborate with advocates in those other countries.
I have been fortunate to build and grow relationships with firms in Switzerland, France, Canada, and Mexico. In cases where one party wishes to travel or relocate with a child to a foreign country, knowledge of laws that govern the return of children is critical including enforcing support and other orders. When one party is residing in a foreign country there are many challenges which is why it can be so important to anticipate problems and effectively deal with them in any settlement agreements at the time of divorce or when separation is granted. Our firm is happy to provide referrals to interpreters and bilingual firms if that is what your case requires.

Same Sex / LGBTQ

Divorce involving same sex couples is not significantly different than divorce between heterosexual couples. Issues such as property division, debt allocation, support and child placement need to be resolved just as they would in any other divorce. One distinction, however, is that laws governing marriage between same sex couples changed in 2016, so no state can prohibit such a union. Further, there are cases where parties may have had a long term relationship but a short term marriage which then requires flushing out contributions that each party made to the other during the relationship and what agreements the parties may have made during the relationship concerning their assets and debts.

Military

Military divorce involves cases where participation in the military (either current or in the past) has or will have a bearing on an issue in that case. For example, in cases where a party is on active duty in the military, issues such as custody and placement will need careful consideration, particularly if a party is stationed in a foreign country. It is important to be creative with ways that a parent in the military can sustain their relationship with their children including finding ways to maximize contact when they are on leave or when their service is complete.
Service members may also have benefits including additional income that needs to be assessed. Dividing assets such as military pension or a Thrift Savings Plan require special orders that need to be prepared by experts. Our firm has handled these types of cases incorporating the necessary experts where required. That approach of combining our expertise and creative problem solving with outside resources has helped our clients, who are either in the military or have a spouse in the military, obtain positive results.
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