Wisconsin Divorce Law: Do I need a Lawyer Checklist. Divorce is often times a complex and difficult process. It can be seen as an end to a relationship and/or a family. It can be expensive both emotionally as well as financially. Although a good divorce attorney cannot give you advice to save your marriage a good divorce attorney is often times needed to make sure your rights are protected and that you are prepared for your future.
It seems as though many people who traditionally would have been represented by an attorney are attempting to do their divorce on their own. Although I am uncertain as to all of the reasons I assume it has to do with the fear of the financial expense if one or both sides have an attorney as well as the misconception that having attorneys involved in the case means that it will go from an amicable situation to one of hostility. A divorce does not have to become a battle.
In any event over the course of the almost 30 years that I have been representing people and families in divorce I have put together a checklist of which, if you meet one or more of these factors, you should seriously consider at least consulting a divorce lawyer before reaching any final agreements with your spouse.
1. Your spouse has an attorney. An attorney cannot represent both parties so that if your spouse has an attorney, that attorney has a duty to represent your spouse, not you. Retaining an attorney to make sure that you are not being taken advantage of or giving up assets or other rights is the right thing to do.
2. Either or both spouses received substantial inheritances and/or gifts from other members either before or during the marriage. Wisconsin is a marital property state which means that property is divided equally between the parties. Gifts and inheritance whether before or after the marriage can some situations be excluded when they should be included and at other times they may be included when they should be excluded. Depending upon the amount of the gifts and/or inheritance and the circumstances it may drastically affect the total amount of your marital estate and thus impacting your equal share.
3. You have children. Children are not property but people with feelings, rights and need to be protected by their parents in a divorce. Sometimes, children are used by one or the other parent as pawns to get back at the other parent or to get more from the financial part of the divorce. Even if there are agreements on custody and placement having an attorney to make sure that what you have agreed upon is what is put in writing and ultimately approved by the Court. Children are the most important “product” of a marriage and their protection and your relationship with them should always be of the highest priority.
4. One or more of the spouses have retirement accounts, IRAs, 401k’s, pensions, etc. Again, these types of accounts belong in the marital estate under most circumstances. However, putting a value on them can often times be difficult and dividing them can be very complicated.
5. Real estate and/or mortgages. If you own real estate you most likely have a mortgage. If one part keeps the real they will be responsible for payment of the mortgage. However, just because one party is awarded the house and responsibility for paying the mortgage does not mean that the bank is releasing the other spouse from the mortgage and liability for payment should the other spouse not be able to make payments. In addition, even though your spouse may be paying the mortgage, if your name is on the mortgage, it goes on your credit rating as a debt which may make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to get another mortgage in the future.
6. Substantial differences in income. Even if you have equal placement the party with more income may still have a child support obligation to the other. In addition, in some situations and especially in long term marriages a person with substantially less income may be entitled to maintenance or what used to be called alimony. In some situations, it is essential for the lesser earning spouse to receive this financial support to make sure that they are able to afford their expenses and have a financially successful future.
These are just a few of the issues of which, if any one of them applies to your situation, should lead you to at least contact an experienced divorce attorney.
I have been representing people and families in divorce for almost 30 years. I offer a no cost no obligation consultation to discuss your options. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.
In the Baraboo area at (608) 356-3961, Madison area at (608) 824-9540 or Statewide at (866) 455-2993. Please feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our website at https://khtlawyers.com. Remember, at Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC we listen, we care, we get results!