Questions about Post-Judgment Issues in a Divorce in Wisconsin

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we get about post-judgment issues in a divorce or paternity.

1. How do I change my placement and or custody arrangement?

a. If your original judgment was entered less than two years ago, you must have substantial evidence that the current custody order and/or placement order is either physically or emotionally harmful to the child(ren). If you have evidence supporting such harm, a Motion must be filed with the Court. The Court will then determine if the requested change is in the child(ren)’s best interest. This “two year rule” only applies to original custody and placement judgments.

b. If the original judgment was entered more than two years ago, you may seek a modification of custody and placement if there is evidence that there has been a substantial change of circumstances since entry of the last order (not necessarily the original order) and that you must show that modifying the judgment is in the child(ren)’s best interest. A Motion must be filed with the Court to address the proposed change.

c. Parents can agree at any time to modify custody and/or placement without having to return to Court. A Stipulation can be filed with the Court to make the agreed upon change part of the Court’s Orders.

2. What is the process for modifying a judgment regarding custody and/or placement?

A motion must be filed with the Court in the county of the original action. There will be an initial hearing in which the Court will determine if there is enough evidence to proceed. If it is determined that the motion should proceed, you and the other party will be ordered to participate in mediation. Mediation is almost always mandatory, except in cases of domestic violence. If you are able to reach an agreement in mediation, a Stipulation must be filed with the Court outlining the terms of the agreement.

In the event an agreement is not reached, the Court may order that a Guardian ad Litem be appointed to represent the best interests of the child(ren) and/or custody study be commenced, depending on the county of your case, to investigate the claims and make a recommendation regarding the proposed modification. A Guardian ad Litem is an attorney who is appointed to represent the best interest of the child(ren). He or she conducts an investigation and then makes a recommendation to the court.

3. How long will it take to resolve my motion for modification?

The answer to this question depends on whether the parties reach a Stipulation or must proceed to a trial or hearing. If the parties proceed to a trial, the process can likely take up to 10 months to a year, or even longer, depending on the unique facts or your case and the county in which your case is filed.

4. How do I lower/raise my child support or family support?

Child support and family support may be modified if there is a substantial change in financial circumstances. If you, as the payor, were to lose your job or have your wages substantially reduced, this may be considered a change in circumstances justifying a reduction in support. However, if the payor receives an increase in wages or obtained a higher paying job, then a motion may be filed by the other party requesting an increase in support. Please note that the Court can only modify support back to the date the other party received notice of the Motion to modify support, not the date of the change in income.

5. Do I have to provide my ex-spouse copies of my W-2 and or paycheck?

If you are paying or receiving support, then yes, you must provide documentation of your current income or risk being found in contempt of Court.

6. What do I do if I no longer feel that my divorce settlement is fair?

Once a divorce is finalized the only modifications that can be made are maintenance, child support, family support, placement and custody. The property division cannot be modified after the divorce is final. An exception to this rule would be if it is discovered that your spouse hid an asset which was not included in the settlement. Should that be the case, then the Court would consider reopening the Judgment of Divorce to address the division of the non-disclosed asset.

7. What should I do when the other party is violating the orders?

If one party fails to pay child or spousal support or refuses to honor the custody and placement (visitation) order, the law provides a remedy through a finding of contempt. Again, a Motion must be filed with the court. If the violation involves child or spousal support, the court can garnish wages or force the violator to pay in other ways. Sometimes, the violator is sentenced to a jail term as well. The court also has broad discretion to come up with other, more creative solutions to force the violator to comply with the terms of the decree. The court can also order the payment of attorneys fees or other penalties.

If you are being denied placement, you can file a Petition to Enforce Placement to force the other party to comply with the court order. The court again has broad discretion to enforce a placement schedule, including awarding make-up time, changing the schedule or awarding attorneys fees and costs.

The attorneys at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC can assist you with any of these problems and can further answer any questions you might have.

14 thoughts on “Questions about Post-Judgment Issues in a Divorce in Wisconsin

  1. Hi there, What is the process for modifying a judgment regarding custody and/or placement? Is there a specific form that I’d use? I found a page that has a bunch of forms but I’m not sure which one to use. Any help is appreciated.

  2. If a parent is requesting a placement change and the other parent is concerned with a living arrangement, how do you voice that concern?

    • I’m sorry but I’m not sure what your question is. However, in a placement dispute, the first step would typically be to talk to the other parent to try to resolve the issue. If that doesn’t work, then it depends on your county. In some counties, mediation is mandatory before you can file any motion. You would then request mediation. If mediation is not mandatory before you file for a motion, you can request voluntary mediation or then file a motion. Your best bet is to consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss all of your options.

  3. 15yo decided she didn’t want to come for my visitation time and her mom (we never married) won’t enforce it even though court order says I get her this coming week. Daughter and my wife don’t get along. I am pro se in this case and not too bad at it.
    What options do I have? Her mom thinks she’s above the law.

    • Your only option is to file a Petition to Enforce placement. The Court must hear it within 30 days. You should be prepared, however, that some judges believe you cannot force a child that old to go for placement. If that happens, you should at least ask the court to order counseling to determine why your daughter doesn’t want to come and to try to repair that situation. Good luck!

  4. I went to court back in November for child support and 100 % plecement since then I found out that the days my son is being watched by his father he yells at him calls him names, and hits him this is coming out of my 7 year olds mouth he has told other people as well, we have not have any contact since March 3rd, his dad is on social media threatening me and my family, how do I go about changing the custody where I have full custody I’m afraid for my life and families life

    • I am confused about the facts of your case and this forum is not the best place to give legal advice. Your best bet is to consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area who can go through everything with you and determine your best course of action. Most attorneys offer free consultations. Good luck to you.

    • I’m sorry but you will need to consult with an attorney about your question or the clerk of courts office. There are many factors that go into that decision.

  5. I consistently pay my ex for child expenses, but he is demanding more than I can afford to pay for costs I didn’t agree on.Can he file contempt of court to be reimbursed? We both waived our right for child support.

    • You need to carefully read and follow the court order regarding these expenses. The court would enforce whatever the order says. For example, if it says you have to agree to certain expenses, then the you aren’t responsible for those if you did not agree. If you are uncertain, you should schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to go through your order and the expenses with you to determine whether you are responsible or not. You should also find out if it is perhaps time to seek a modification of the court order if the current one is not working or no longer fair. Good luck to you.

  6. Ex won’t adhere to court order of visitation. 2 years later. Contempt of court was filed 6/2022 and judge won’t rule on it! What can be done? Now it’s January 8, 2023. Lawyer hasn’t pressed it

    • I’m sorry but I cannot comment on the facts of a specific case or circumstance. If you are unhappy with your current representation, the best thing to do is to consult with another experienced attorney in this area to discuss the facts of your case.

We welcome your comments or questions. We will do our best to try to respond. However, please be advised that we cannot give legal advice in this forum and all communications are for general informational purposes only. Communication should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. This is an open forum and any information you provide may be posted and will not be held confidentially. By posting a comment or question, you are expressly giving consent for the publication of same. If you have any specific legal issues or concerns, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney in the county and state in which you reside.

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