Divorce Mediation: What is it and is it right for you?

The idea of mediation in a divorce context can be confusing. In a divorce case, there are two types of mediation. The first type of mediation is when parties have exhausted all forms of negotiation and hire a neutral mediator to assist with reaching an agreement to resolve issues in a divorce case. The second type of mediation is when parties hire a mediator to assist them with the entire process of the divorce by being involved from the very beginning including assisting them in filing, negotiating a settlement, and drafting documents to be filed with the court on behalf of both parties.  This is commonly referred to as a “mediated divorce.”

It is important that people understand the difference between the two types of mediation when contemplating divorce and whether or not involving a divorce mediator is appropriate in a given case. For purposes of this article we will focus on the second type of mediation which is mediated divorce.

Recently, many family law firms are trying to capitalize on the 2017 law change which allows attorney mediators to draft and file documents with the courts on behalf of a divorcing couple.  Prior to the law passing in 2017, a mediator could work with couples in a neutral capacity to help them reach an agreement, but a mediator could not draft documents or file documents with the court for them.   Since the law changed, couples can now hire one lawyer to draft necessary pleadings, file them with the court and work with them in a neutral capacity to reach an agreement resolving issues in their divorce case.  The idea of wrapping your divorce up in a neat package where only one attorney is needed sounds immensely appealing.  And, in many cases, a mediated divorce can work for couples.  However, we have seen a substantial upswing in clients who start the process of mediation too early resulting in a failure of that process.  They are uninformed because the mediator failed to require full financial disclosure or failed to draft Financial Disclosure Statements prior to starting the process of trying to reach an agreement.  So, how do you know if divorce mediation is right for you?

Understand what mediation is and what a mediator can and cannot do for you.

A divorce mediator is neutral and does not take a position for or against either party or give legal advice to either party.  As a neutral, a mediator can inform you of the law and provide calculations for support, property division, and other divorce related issues.  A mediator can draft legal pleadings and file those forms with the court.   As a neutral, the mediator works with the couple to help them reach an agreement. With the new mediation rules in family cases, a divorce mediator can also draft and file the legal pleadings with the court making it easier for a divorcing couple to navigate the court procedures.

But what happens if you have questions about whether the settlement agreement is a good agreement for you and your situation?  What if you have questions about how the law applies to you alone and not the couple?

A divorce mediator cannot give you legal advice.  Therefore, all those questions will remain unanswered because if the mediator were to answer them, he or she would be providing legal advice.

What if the agreement is not fair?  How will you know?

Simply speaking, you won’t.  The mediator is not able to advocate for either party.  Therefore, absent having your own attorney, you will never know whether the agreement is fair to you or, quite frankly, could be better.  Any suggestion by the mediator in this regard would be considered advocating and is forbidden.

Consider whether mediation is appropriate for you.

The goal of mediation is to facilitate a resolution of issues and a stipulated agreement, but how do you know if you can reach an agreement before you know what all the potential options are?  Many times we see a client who thinks they have an agreement but as the mediator discusses different aspects of the process (i.e. placement schedules, custodial decisions, child support, tax deduction, maintenance and property divisions), more and more questions arise.  Without the benefit of legal counsel to advise you, it is truly impossible to know if you have a fair and equitable agreement.  If you have any questions, hesitations or concerns, it is imperative to speak to a lawyer before embarking on the mediation process or making any final decision in mediation. Even if you decide to hire a divorce mediator, you are still free to hire your own attorney to review your divorce agreement and discuss settlement ideas. Your divorce mediator should always support a party’s legal right to consult with or hire an attorney.

Research your mediator.

When the law changed in 2017, many law firms saw this as an opportunity to simply generate additional revenue for their firm.  The tag line of an “easy” and “flat rate” divorce or mediation sounds appealing and draws the attention of many savvy consumers.  However, mediators need to be experienced and properly trained.  Simply because a law firm advertises “mediation” does not mean that the attorneys have the experience or training to successfully help you.  The process to become a mediator requires hours of training and years of experience.  Commencing the mediation process with the wrong mediator will all but guarantee that your experience will only be more stressful and expensive.  When interviewing mediators, you should ask if they have taken the requisite 40 hour training program.  Inquire as to the number of mediations they have conducted. Inquire about a mediator’s experience and years in practice.

Beware of motivations.

Very frequently, we hear that one spouse is pushing the other spouse heavily towards mediation.  We have heard clients tell us that their spouse has threatened them that if they don’t do mediation and/or if they do hire attorney, they will not agree to certain things, it will cost them thousands of extra dollars or “it will be war.”  This is typically because that spouse has the most to lose – for example, by having to pay child support or maintenance.  Threats and bullying are never a good start to a divorce, no matter what process you decide to use.  Keep in mind that your soon to be ex-spouse is not looking out for you.  And, a mediator cannot protect you in that situation like an attorney can by giving you sound advice.  At a minimum, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney prior to entering into the mediation process so you have realistic expectations and knowledge of what you could be entitled to under the law.  This will help you reach the best agreement for you and your children in addition to feeling comfortable when making that final decision.

Mediation with the right mediator can work!

When it comes to mediation to resolve an issue when there is an impasse in a case, mediation as first described above is an excellent option too.

In the right circumstances and for the right reasons, mediation is an effective tool to avoid litigation and ensure that both parties are satisfied with the result.  There are very good attorneys and retired judges who are mediating that are experienced and charge reasonable rates.  In these situations, you will likely be completely comfortable and satisfied with the process and the results.  If you have any reservations, however, make sure you at least consult with an attorney as stated above.

Further, mediation is the preferred method of resolving disputes even when attorneys are involved.  Experienced divorce lawyers will often reach out to mediators to help resolve a case prior to engaging in litigation.  These mediators are either retired judges or attorneys who have been practicing for more than 20 years.  The cost to hiring a mediator too early and without the advice of attorney may result in increased legal fees, but more importantly, can have a long term negative impact on you or,  more importantly,  your children.

Attorney Alison H.S. Krueger at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC is a well-respected and trained mediator.  Her primary experience is as a practicing divorce attorney, but she also engages in the mediation process where she deems it will be the most helpful.  She also charges a reasonable hourly rate given her years of experience in this field.  If you are interested in this process, please call us at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free consultation to discuss same.

 

Lawyer Reviews – Reader Beware!

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers!”  Clearly, William Shakespeare was not in the midst of an ugly divorce or custody battle when he wrote those immortal words.  Had Will actually needed a divorce or custody lawyer, instead of killing them, he would have done an internet search on family lawyers and carefully read all of the reviews before considering which lawyer was represent his rights in court.

Everyone hopes that they can share the opinions of William Shakespeare and never need the assistance and guidance of a family lawyer.  What do you do however, when the unexpected happens and you are in need of someone who is going to fight for you and more importantly your children?  The decision to hire a lawyer can be one of the most impactful decisions of your life.  It is imperative that you find the best fit for you.   A savvy consumer will research websites, consider experience and read reviews.  When you read the reviews, however, you need to consider if you are reading an actual client review of an attorney or if you are reading a story of defeat, retaliation or just plain vengeance. Some clients will turn to the internet to share their opinions of the legal process and their respective attorneys.  However, many times, reviews that are written, are written by opposing parties who left the process scorn and need to seek vengeance on the attorney that made the legal process so unpleasant.

When you read a negative review, consider the author.  Is the author actually a client of the attorney?  If, in reading the negative review, it is obvious that the author is the opposing party then consider why the opposing party took the time and energy to write a negative review of the other attorney.  Sometimes the best compliment of an attorney doing his or her job comes from the other side leaving the courtroom upset.

If the negative review is written by a client, read and consider the other reviews.  Does the negative review conform to what others are saying or is the negative a review a stand alone?  There are times when a client wants a lawyer to take a position contrary her advice.  When that happens, an ethical lawyer will withdraw from the case, likely leaving the client upset.  Is the negative review written by a client who is upset that the attorney did not do what he wanted her to do?  Or, perhaps the client is upset at the amount of fees which were charged.  However, that could have been due to circumstances beyond the lawyer’s control such as a difficult client or difficult opposing counsel.  Some clients are upset at the situation itself but the lawyer is the handy target to blame.

Most people do not realize that ethical rule prohibit lawyers from responding in detail to a negative review.  Always keep in mind the old adage, there are two sides to every story.  There have been times when an attorney reads a negative review and literally screams at her computer screen, “that is not what happened at all!”  The reader of that negative review will never know the “other side” because the ethical lawyer is prohibited from sharing any details that could even remotely violate the attorney client privilege.   A savvy reader of lawyer reviews will consider the fact that there is an explanation (or even correction) to the negative review, that that explanation will never be known by the reader.

Make sure that you read all the reviews from all sources.  A client may review an attorney on AVVO, but not on Google.  Make sure that you research several review platforms (Google, Yahoo, AVVO, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.) to obtain a full picture of what clients are saying about your potential lawyer.  While reviews are pivotally important, you must also consider experience.  The more experienced the lawyer, the more likely he is to have a negative review or two.  It is simply the law of averages.  Do not let a negative review deter you from scheduling a consultation.   If reading a negative review gives you pause, ask the lawyer about it in your consultation.  For instance, if a negative review indicates that the lawyer was unresponsive, ask the lawyer, “what is your policy for returning phone calls and emails?”  If after reading a review, you have concerns about a lawyer being unnecessarily litigious, ask the lawyer what her policy is on settlement.

In summary, it is imperative to read attorney reviews prior to selecting an attorney.  However, it is just as important to be smart about what you read and consider the author.  Finally, never let a review stop you from consulting with a lawyer that you feel will be a good fit.  You can judge for yourself after that meeting whether you are comfortable with the lawyer after listening to what he or she has to say.

 

 

Sara’s Law: A Law Intended to Protect Family Law Attorneys in Wisconsin

Family law is a unique area of law, often accompanied by an overabundance of emotions. Strong emotions typically tie in with family matters such as divorce, child custody and placement issues, and maintaining the co-parenting relationship for divorced or separated parents. It is not surprising that there are certain risks inherent with the officers of the court (attorneys, judges, guardian ad litems, etc.) involved in family law matters.

A tragic example is the story of Sara Quirt Sann, a Schofield, Wisconsin family law attorney. Quirt Sann, along with three other individuals (Everest Metro Police Detective Jason Weiland and Marathon Savings Bank employees Dianne Look and Karen Barclay) were killed on March 22, 2017 when Nengmy Vang carried out a violent attack on Quirt Sann’s office. Quirt Sann had been representing Vang’s wife in a divorce.

Quirt Sann’s story prompted the drafting of Wisconsin Act 272, colloquially referred to as “Sara’s Law” in memory of Quirt Sann. Sara’s Law was enacted on April 11, 2018 and makes it a Class H felony in the state of Wisconsin to harm or threaten to harm a current or former guardian ad litem, corporation counsel, attorney, or any of their family. Sara’s Law further specifies that the harm or threat of harm is in response to an action taken during a proceeding or other action that affects the family (i.e. a “family law” proceeding). Until Sara’s Law, threats made against family lawyers were not treated the same as judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers.

If a person is convicted under Sara’s Law, it would mean they are guilty of a Class H felony, which could result in the mandatory surrendering of weapons, a $10,000 fine, and up to six years in prison.

Sara’s Law is the first of its kind in the United States, and could prove to be indicative of a trend in American law to recognize and address the intrinsic risks with practicing an area of law so wrought with emotion. The attorneys at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC are sensitive to the psychological and emotional tolls of family law, and are skilled in navigating these difficult matters. Should you have any family law related questions, please feel free to contact our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free ½ hour consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.  Or, for more information, visit our website at http://www.nkmfamilylaw.com.

 

 

What to Look for in Hiring a Divorce or Family Law Attorney

Once you make the difficult decision to pursue legal action such as a divorce, paternity action, or a a post judgement modification or enforcement motion in a family law matter, the next decision you are faced with can be as equally difficult. Will you hire an attorney and, if so, which attorney will be best suited to represent your best interests in your legal matter? There can be many attorneys to choose from and the internet may seem to be overloaded with information and options.  Below are some tips for what to look for in hiring a divorce or family law attorney.

 

If you do not have a direct referral to an attorney, most people start their search with an internet search with terms such as divorce attorney or ____ (fill in the blank with the type of attorney you are search for) attorney in your area.  This brings up a list of attorneys or firms who practice that type of law in that certain geographical area.  The attorneys or firms who appear on the first page or high up in the search results are often the attorneys or firms who have the best reviews or have the highest volume of cases in that particular area.  This generally means they are also the most experienced attorneys in that practice or geographical area.  Generally, people choose attorneys from those who appear first in those couple of pages.  From there, when searching for the right attorney, you may want to review an attorney’s or firm’s website, online reviews, and schedule a consultation. When doing this, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind. For example, a website can be very helpful in showing whether or not an attorney has kept their page up to date,  whether  they write articles or blogs, which can offer helpful information and tips and also provide insight into whether the attorney, or whether their firm, is truly knowledgeable in that area and stays up to date with the laws that apply to family law.  Websites can also provide information as to which specific areas of law an attorney or firm practices, how experienced they are, or whether they have won any awards or are members of any specific organizations.  For example, please review our website at www.nkmfamilylaw.com. All of this information can give you a better idea about how experienced an attorney is in the area you are searching for.  The more experienced an attorney, the better chance you have at receiving a positive result in your matter and/or obtaining the best possible advice about what may happen in your case.

 

When searching for an attorney, it is important to find out how the attorney how their fees are charged.  Some attorneys and firms charge an hourly rate and calculate your fees by the amount of time it takes to work on your matter. When you are considering attorneys, it is important to ensure that you will get an itemized billing statement on a frequent basis. Other firms may bill at a flat rate based upon the work that needs to be completed in your matter. That may be a cost-effective way to handle certain matters, but it may also be difficult to know if you are going to get the attention and dedication to your case once your flat fee has essentially “run out.” It is important to know what services the flat fee will cover, and if any future fees may be required if your matter becomes more time intensive, or if something changes in your matter, that would require additional fees and how much.

 

It can also be very helpful to look at online lawyer client reviews to help you when choosing an attorney. While many of these reviews can give you a better understanding of how the lawyer practices, it is also important to keep a few things in mind. Attorneys have certain ethical obligations that prohibit them from making any in-depth comments about client’s cases.  So, if you encounter a bad review of an attorney, keep in mind that the attorney may not be able to respond to the commentator, whose review may or may not be truthful or relevant to the quality of services that the lawyer or law firm provides. It is also helpful to remember that anyone can leave a review, including an unhappy or unsuccessful opposing party, which has been known to happen. There are also cases where a client is in the wrong or is the cause of the problems in their own case which causes an unfavorable result.  These clients often are the ones who leave negative reviews which really do not accurately reflect the competency of an attorney as a whole.  You should take into consideration the above if the majority of the reviews for the attorney or firm are positive, except for one or two.  To determine for yourself if the reviews are accurate, it may be best to review the attorney’s or law firm’s website and utilize a consultation with the attorney or law firm to decide for yourself if that attorney will best represent you in your legal matter.

 

Finally, you may be able to schedule a consultation with one or several attorneys to see who is right for you. Some attorneys and law firms offer a free consultation, while others may charge a fee for their consultation.  Whether there is a charge for a consultation or not does not necessarily indicate the quality of that attorney’s or law firm’s services.  Instead, consultations, like job interviews, are helpful for both clients and attorneys to ensure that there is a good fit for any future legal representation.

 

These examples show why it is important to consider many factors when choosing the best attorney to represent you in your family law matter. After reviewing our firm and our attorneys, we are confident that you will find we fit all of the above criteria.  If you wish to contact our firm to see if we can best represent you in your upcoming or pending family law matter, call us at (414) 258-1644 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

The Importance of Being Honest with Your Family Law Attorney

More often than not, people hire family law attorneys during a difficult time in their lives. Understandably, some of the facts that may lead you to seek counsel may not be easy to discuss with an attorney. However, it is imperative for the attorney who is representing you to know all aspects of your case and for you to be honest with your divorce or family law attorney.

In the early stages of a case, the attorneys in our firm will often ask “What would the other party tell me about you if they were sitting in my office today?” The reason we ask this question is to find out any negative or difficult facts in a case that will likely come up during litigation. Your advocate counsel needs to be informed of all potential issues that you are aware of, so that we can properly advise you of what next steps should be taken to benefit you throughout your case. More importantly, if there is a “bad fact”, your attorney can address it proactively.  We will not judge you or think poorly of you but we do need to know of any issues which may negatively impact you in a divorce so we can assist you in addressing these issues.

An example of this would be if someone came into our office and admitted to being an alcoholic if they have minor children. With that knowledge, we can advise our client to seek treatment, attend meetings and hopefully be in a position to provide proof of a solid period of sobriety by the time this issue would make its way into court. If we are not made aware of this issue and/or if the first time we hear of this issue is in court from the other attorney or party, we will not be in a great position to defend this allegation or to show what steps have been taken to address this concern. In this example, if your attorney knows about your condition, she can be honest with the court about your issues and, more importantly, she can tell the court what you are doing (or have done) about it.  When your attorney knows all facts, good and bad she is able to control how the information gets into the court.

It is also important that you continue to update your attorney throughout your case, even if those updates are difficult to discuss. Using the example of the client who is an alcoholic, it may be the case that the client relapses during the pendency of the action and is too embarrassed to tell his/her counsel. The fact is, not telling your attorney “bad” facts is far worse than sitting through an uncomfortable conversation with your attorney about mistakes you have made. Once the information is disclosed, you and your attorney can brainstorm ways to address the issues. The court is likely to find out about it anyway.  You want your attorney to control how this information is presented to the court.  The only way for that to happen is for you to be 100% honest and open with your attorney.

There also may be situations where you do not want to disclose certain information.  Your conversations with your attorney are 100% protected by client confidentiality rules and your attorney must not reveal any information given to her in confidence.  However, if presented with all of the facts, your attorney can either discuss with you ways to protect this information, explain to you why it must be disclosed (in the instance of financial information) or, again, find the best way to disclose this information in a way that is most beneficial to you and your case.

As attorneys, we cannot protect clients from their actions that may negatively affect their case. If a client continues to take actions that negatively affect his/her case, despite the advice of his/her attorney, it may result in a situation where the attorney no longer believes they can represent that client’s interests. However, if clients are honest with us throughout the process and listen to the advice we give to them, we are in a better position to help advocate for our client’s interests.

If you wish to speak with an attorney about a difficult family matter, please feel free to call our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

Can My Spouse and I Use a Mediator Instead of Lawyers In Our Divorce?

Mediation - dispute resolution process.

Many people ask if they can use a mediator instead of lawyers in a divorce.  Recent changes by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, redefining the role of a mediator in a divorce action, have caused many people to ask this very question.  In order to determine what is right for you, an understanding of the difference between Lawyer-Mediator and Advocate Attorney is needed.

Typically, a mediator’s role has been to help parties find solutions to disputes from a neutral, third party perspective. Mediation is confidential and scheduled outside of court, so it aims to promote open, honest and unreserved discussion between the parties. Mediators can benefit parties in a divorce by helping suggest constructive alternatives to the positions of each of the parties and to help to find a reasonable solution based on the presentation by both parties. Mediators will sometimes prepare a short and neutral-toned memorandum of the agreement between the parties if agreements are reached. Then, the parties are responsible for ensuring that an agreement is drafted and submitted to the court so that it becomes an order of the court.

Recently, however, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has approved the expansion of the role of a lawyer serving as a mediator.  Specifically, “lawyer-mediators”, are now permitted to draft, modify or file documents confirming, memorializing, and/or implementing the parties’ mediated agreement.  In order to do so, the law requires that the lawyer-mediator maintain neutrality throughout the process and also have the written informed consent of the parties.

As this new rule is rolled out (effective date of July 1, 2017), it is important to understand that lawyer-mediators are not interchangeable with advocate counsel.

In fact, as part of the written “informed consent” that the lawyer-mediator must obtain the lawyer-mediator must inform the parties that it is important to seek independent legal advice before executing any documents prepared by the lawyer-mediator. This is done because the lawyer-mediator cannot assume an advocate role. Therefore, a mediator does not necessarily replace the need for an attorney to advocate for your interests.

By nature, mediators must be neutral.   Mediators are hired to help the parties reach an agreement and not advocate a certain theory or provide advice to the parties.  Therefore,  lawyer mediators may only perform these additional duties allowed under the new rule if it can be done without compromising his or her neutrality and so long as they do not assume an attorney-client relationship with either party.  This means that any document drafted by the lawyer-mediator would need to be a “neutral” document; that the lawyer-mediator shall not attempt to advance the interest of one party at the expense of the other party; and that the lawyer-mediator may not give legal advice to either or both parties while acting in that neutral capacity.

This can lead to issues however, because often times one or both parties do not understand all of the consequences of their decisions. An attorney acting as neutral mediator may attempt to explain these consequences to the parties in mediation but only if they can do so without giving legal advice, without acting as counsel for either party and without compromising his/her neutrality. Practically speaking, this is a very difficult task when many issues impact the parties differently in a family law matter. As is often the case in family law matters a question from one party may have an adverse effect on the other party.  How does a lawyer mediator answer questions without giving legal advice or advocating (albeit innocently) for one party or the other? At Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC, we believe mediation is a valuable tool and resource in many family law matters. As such, we often use the assistance of lawyer-mediators in cases where we need a neutral opinion on unresolved disputes.  However, at all points during the case, and during the mediation, our clients have an advocate who is consistently working to advance your interests and explain the consequences of your decisions.  This is not a benefit afforded to litigants who move forward with mediation without the benefit of advocate counsel.

Lawyer-mediators also cannot act on the behalf of a party in court, cannot assist the parties in court matters such as scheduling or procedure and cannot appear in court with the parties.  Many people are confused and intimidated by the court system.  Advocate counsel can assist you in all aspects related to the court system itself.

So, while lawyer-mediators may assist advocate attorneys greatly in family law matters, they have different roles than advocate attorneys and that should be well understood before the decision is made to use only one or the other.

If you have a family law matter that you wish to discuss with an advocate attorney at our firm, please do not hesitate to call our office at 414-258-1644 to set up a free consultation with one of the attorneys.

How to Stop a Divorce Bully!

Boss Shouting At Businesswoman Through Loudspeaker In OfficeIn the context of family law, especially in a divorce, some individuals may find that their former partner transforms into a divorce bully. A divorce bully is a spouse who exhibits bullying behavior during the process of divorce. This person may not have previously displayed bullying behavior during the marriage. This behavior may not rise to the level of domestic violence, but instead is more subtle. Bullying behavior may include: lying about past incidents in order to make the other partner look bad; threatening to take full custody of the parties’ children or withholding the children from the other party; isolating the other party from friends and family; withholding money or refusing to pay bills; removing the other person from or canceling insurance; cancelling cell phone service; or attempting to intimidate the other partner from hiring a lawyer. While being a victim to a divorce bully adds another dimension of stress to the divorce process, it is not necessarily dangerous or constitutes domestic abuse.  Therefore, it may be difficult to deal with.

Another tactic of a divorce bully that can be especially damaging is to attempt to rush the divorce proceeding. This can often result in an inequitable agreement at the expense of the victim. Most parties to want the divorce to be over as quickly as possible. At the same time, it is also important to take the time to ensure that all marital assets and debts are divided equitably, that maintenance is considered when appropriate, and that custody, placement and child support are determined accurately, and in the best interest of the children.

If you find yourself the victim of divorce bullying, there are some important steps to take to protect yourself and to minimize the damaging consequences. One step may simply be to take care of your own health, both physically and mentally. Seeking counseling is a good way to help you find ways to deal with this type of behavior and get you through your divorce.  Another step may be to set firm boundaries with the divorce bully. For example, inform the bullying partner in person and in writing to refrain from specific abusive behavior, such as showing up uninvited to your home, or involving your children in the details of the divorce. It can also be helpful to document specific incidents of bullying, including when the incident occurred, and the details of what happened.

Hiring an attorney can be the most effective way of stopping a divorce bully.  An attorney can intervene on your behalf – either with your spouse, the opposing attorney or by filing a motion with the court.  Also, an attorney can intervene on your behalf with third parties, if necessary (as in the case of insurance or creditors).  Lastly, an attorney can reassure you as to what may or may not happen (i.e. you will not lose your children!) and give you advice as to how to best deal with this behavior.

Mediation may also be a helpful option in diffusing the situation. Mediators are specially trained to help control tense and emotional situations of divorce without involving litigation. However, if the bullying has existed throughout the marriage, then mediation may be ineffective because of the lack of trust between the parties, and may legitimize an abusive viewpoint of the bullying partner.  Your attorney can discuss various options with you.

The law requires that each party enters into a settlement agreement freely, voluntarily, knowingly, and without threat or coercion. It is ok to slow down the divorce process in order to understand your agreement, seek the advice of an attorney, and to come to a final agreement that you can successfully follow. If you find yourself the victim of a divorce bully, call us at (414) 258-1644 to schedule a free initial office consultation to discuss your case.

What if I Am Unhappy With My Current Divorce Attorney?

If you are not satisfied or unhappy with your current attorney, you may have the option to hire a new attorney who would “substitute” into a case for your current attorney.

Typically, an unhappy client seeks new counsel while their current attorney is still retained. Clients seek new counsel for a number of reasons. One of the most common is because the client believes there has been a breakdown in the communication or relationship with their current attorney. The client then seeks the advice and counsel of a new attorney and if the client believes the new attorney would provide more suitable counsel, then they can hire this new attorney and the new attorney is “substituted” for the current attorney.

In Wisconsin, there is a formal process that your current attorney and the new attorney must go through in order to complete the substitution. A Substitution of Attorneys agreement is required. This agreement, or stipulation, must be signed by both the client and the former attorney and is typically prepared by the new attorney. If the client wishes, they do not need to communicate with their prior attorney at all. This can be handled strictly by the old and new attorney. However, the client can certainly tell their current attorney directly that they wish to substitute attorneys as well. Once this form is signed, it must be sent to the court and the court must also approve the substitution.

It is important to note that even if a substitution is approved by the client’s current attorney and then ultimately by the court, the client still must resolve all fees and costs associated with their prior attorney. In Wisconsin,  the previous attorney is entitled to a judgment for outstanding fees against client when a substitution occurs and sometimes they demand that this is stated in the Substitution of Attorneys form prior to signing same.

Also, there are instances where the court will not approve a substitution. For example, if there is an upcoming trial date and the new attorney would need an adjournment to give them time to prepare. Or, if there have been too many substitutions in the case already.

It is also important to note that there are drawbacks to substituting attorneys. The drawbacks include that a new attorney has to learn your case, essentially starting over, whereas your current attorney has your complete file and is more familiar with your case history. There are also costs associated with a new attorney: retainer fees, costs for having to have your file copied, and costs for completing the formal process of substituting the attorneys.

Despite the above drawbacks, creating and maintaining a healthy and working client/attorney relationship as you navigate through your case is often superior to the costs and drawbacks.

If you have any questions regarding substitution of attorneys or if you are seeking new counsel, please contact our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free initial office consultation or visit our website for more information.

4 Ways the Right Divorce Lawyer Can Make the Process Easier

Most people understand that, when they are going through a divorce, they need to have a good divorce lawyer on their side. After all, we all know someone who didn’t get the quality of representation they needed, and suffered heavy financial consequences – and perhaps even the loss of time with their children – because of it.

As important as it is to have a good divorce lawyer on your side, however, it’s also something that’s very convenient. That’s because part of a divorce attorney’s job isn’t just to ensure that your interests are protected, but also to make the process smoother.

Here are four quick ways that the right divorce lawyer can make things easier for you:

1. By looking out for your interests during your divorce proceedings. Beyond simply knowing the law, a good divorce attorney will learn about your situation, and your priorities, to make sure that they are properly represented. As tempting as it might be to simply work through a mediator, that person does not have your interests at heart and cannot work solely to protect your interests.  Alternatively, a divorce lawyer job is to advocate for their clients’ interests and help achieve clients’ goals.

 2. By understanding the nuances of divorce law. Given the complexity of different legal statutes, it’s probably not surprising that most of our clients aren’t very familiar with their rights during the divorce process. Having reviewed your case and gone through the process dozens of times before, a good divorce lawyer might be able to help you spot legal opportunities that you weren’t even aware of.  Although friends, family and coworkers may try to ‘help’ by sharing their own divorce stories, those stories may not be relevant to your situation and may only result in unrealistic expectations or misunderstanding of your legal rights and entitlements.

3. By negotiating with your spouse’s divorce attorney. Negotiating things like custody and placement of children and the division of property and debts between divorcing spouses can quickly become a personal and emotional process. Between seasoned attorneys who know their clients’ top priorities and goals; however, the process can often be handled much more quickly, calmly, and efficiently. This facet of what we do alone can dramatically decrease the stress and anxiety you feel during your divorce proceedings.

4. By keeping you calm during the legal divorce process. In the same way, your divorce attorney will have been through this process dozens (and maybe hundreds) of times before and they know what to expect, what’s reasonable, and where the major challenges are likely to lie. For that reason, they can help you remain calm and measured each step of the way, especially at times when you may feel that your spouse (or their attorneys) are being unreasonable.

Although you might wish to never need the services of a good divorce lawyer, when you do, it’s great to have the right team on your side. That’s because they won’t just give you a much better chance at finding the right financial and child-related terms that you’re looking for, but can make every step of the process easier, faster, and less emotionally taxing.

To schedule a free initial office consultation to discuss your divorce or alternatives, please contact us at 414-258-1644 or visit our website for further information.

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

Our last post talked about how you can file for divorce by yourself.  The paperwork is easy and readily available at the courthouse or online.  But, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to hire a divorce attorney.  Of course, you are going to think that, as a divorce attorney, I am just trying to drum up business for myself or my colleagues.  However, I can tell you some of the horror stories of people who come to me after their divorce trying to “fix” their mistakes or address issues that they missed.  Sometimes, such as in the case of property division which is final upon divorce, these things simply cannot be corrected later and you will be out of luck and could cost yourself thousands of dollars.

Here are some situations where we absolutely advise you to hire a divorce lawyer.

1.        You don’t have an agreement with your spouse.  There is no getting around this one.  If you don’t have a complete agreement with your soon to be ex-spouse, your only option is negotiation and/or trial.  Without an experienced divorce attorney, you will not be aware of all of the options to be able to come up with a creative solution to settle your case.  We have been doing this a long time and will be able to pose a variety of options for you and to know what is reasonable in terms of settlement.  And, when all else fails, you must try your case to the judge.  There is no way that you can do yourself justice in this regard.  We know the law, the judges and the procedures.  Whatever you pay in attorneys fees, you could cost yourself in the long run in terms of what the court will award you at trial without an attorney.

2.       You have children.  In Wisconsin, there are three different issues related to children: custody, placement and child support, which can include the payment of children’s expenses.  There are many different options when it comes to placement and many factors which must be taken into consideration.  Therefore, by nature, custody, placement and child support can be complicated.  Without a specific divorce agreement, difficulties and problems may arise in the future.  An experienced divorce lawyer has handled enough of these cases to be able to point you in the right direction in terms of a placement order.  Even though we are not child or family therapists, we have some ideas about what works best for kids. We also have experience in the types of issues which can cause disputes between parents in the future and how to address those.

For example, I sometimes have people who don’t want to be away from their children for a long period of time so they come in and tell me they worked out a schedule in which the parents will alternate placement every other day.  This is a terrible schedule for most children!  The transitions are very disruptive to children and they are never able to get settled.  Or, similarly, parents come in and tell me they agreed to an alternating week or two week schedule.  Again, except for teenage children, this is not generally a good schedule.  Young children cannot handle being away from either parent for such a long time.  However, if you have never been divorced before, you may not realize this or you may not be aware of other (better) options for placement. An attorney can help you with this.

Another common issue which causes disputes is the payment of variable expenses or uninsured medical expenses for children.  Under a shared placement schedule in Wisconsin, variable expenses are shared. Medical expenses are always split. But, how does this work?  Not very well, actually.  Experienced attorneys have standard language or options to address the payment of these expenses and put into place a method which minimizes disputes in the future.  If you fail to specify how these expenses get paid, it will be difficult to enforce this order in the future which could cost you thousands of dollars.

Not having an attorney to guide you through these complicated issues can cause you to have disputes and problems down the road.  In the end, you may end up hiring an attorney anyway because you cannot resolve these problems yourself.

3.      You have assets with value.  Even if it is just house, there are numerous options when dealing with property.  Do you know all of the options you have and the bases you have to cover when awarding or selling real estate?  I had a situation once where the parties did their own divorce and simply agreed to sell the house and split the proceeds.  Later, the husband, who was living in the house, was failing to maintain it, refusing to cooperate with the sale process and stopped paying the mortgage.  Unfortunately, because their agreement was silent as to any of the specifics regarding the sale, there was little the Wife could do.  Eventually, the judge did step in at my request and ordered the Husband to vacate the house so it could be sold.  But, because the judgment did not indicate who would pay the mortgage during the sale process, she could not order him to make up those back payments.  A very costly mistake for my client.

If you have a business, investments and/or retirement accounts, there are various considerations which go into a divorce judgment regarding those assets such as value, taxes, capital gains, etc.  Even though an attorney is not an accountant or financial advisor, experienced divorce lawyers can navigate you through these waters.  Did you know there is a special type of order which is needed to divide a retirement account?  Again, if you try to save attorneys fees, you may just cost yourself more money down the road by missing a crucial point or dividing your property in a way that is financially harmful to yourself.

4.         There is abuse or a power imbalance between you and your spouse.  We are seeing more and more cases in which there is an abusive or controlling spouse.  If you are on the wrong end of this relationship, it is very difficult to stand up to this person and make good decisions for yourself.  Often times, even with lawyers, the abused or controlled spouse doesn’t want to fight and just wants to get it over with.  This can have a devastating financial impact on your or your children down the road.  A lawyer is a buffer and someone to stand up for you in these situations.  You are getting divorced to break away from this toxic relationship – don’t let your spouse poison your freedom by bullying you into leaving the marriage in a detrimental financial position just because he or she wears you down and you are not able to stand up to them.  A lawyer is there to protect your interests and fight for what you are entitled to – not what your spouse thinks you deserve.

5.        Your spouse is hiding assets/income or being dishonest.  An experienced divorce attorney will know where to look to uncover hidden assets or income.  They also will know how to conduct discovery in a way which does not rely solely on your spouse.  For example, attorneys can subpoena employers, bank accounts, etc.  A party cannot do that on their own.  For more information on this topic, see our website at Uncovering Hidden Assets in Divorce.

6.        Your spouse has an attorney.  You don’t absolutely need your own attorney but you do need to realize that your spouse’s attorney is only representing his or her interest.  People often try to minimize costs with only one lawyer and that can work if you are cooperating and are able to reach an agreement between yourselves.  However, if that is not the case, then you need your own attorney.  If you are uncomfortable or if you don’t agree to what is being proposed, you also need your own attorney.  Again, regardless of how nice or civil they are being to you, your spouse’s attorney can only represent their interest and cannot give you legal advice.  At your final hearing, the judge will question you extensively about your right to have your own attorney.  If you choose not to and later you determine that the agreement was not in your interest or more beneficial to your spouse, you will not be able to change your mind – especially in the case of property division or a waiver of maintenance.

There are other situations as well where you will be better off with an attorney.  I cannot cover them all in this article.  Just remember – if you are uncomfortable, overwhelmed or feel like you are getting the short end of the stick, consult with an attorney!  You may feel that you cannot afford the attorneys fees or simply don’t want to waste the money.  However, you need to ask yourself – what are you really saving if you cost yourself money with an unfair agreement or if you create a situation where you end up having to go back to court because of a deficient divorce judgment?  I have a saying – “don’t step on dollars to pick up pennies” which certainly applies in this situation.

If you have any questions or would like to meet with one of our lawyers for a free initial office consultation, please call us at 414-258-1644.  You can also visit our website for more information.

-Teri M Nelson

What To Expect From Your Divorce Consultation

In researching potential blog topics, I ran across an excellent article written for the State Bar of Michigan: The Initial Consultation with Your Divorce Attorney: What to Expect When You Don’t Know What to Expect .   This article is so well written and so thorough that I really don’t have much to add.  But, I will summarize and comment.  I will also discuss in terms of our office and our procedures at Nelson & Davis, LLC.

The first topic discussed is the article is the initial contact and information you need to provide.  When you call our office, we will ask for some basic information such as what type of action you have or may have, what county you reside in and whether an action has already been started.  This is important because it assists our intake coordinators in determining whether we can help you at all.  We do not practice in certain counties and people sometimes are confused as to what constitutes a “family action”.  Our office only handles divorce and paternity cases.

If we determine that your case is something we can help you with, we will tell you what our retainer is and ask you whether you would like to schedule an office appointment.  We don’t want you to be surprised by our retainer only after you take the time to come to our office and we don’t want to waste your time or ours if you don’t want to, or can’t, pay our fees.  We also will only do in-office appointments and not telephone consultations except in rare cases.  There are some attorneys who will do telephone consultations but we find it works best if we meet potential clients in person.

If you decide you want to schedule an appointment, we then ask your name and the name of your spouse or other party.  This is crucial information and sometimes people do not want to give it to us but we will not schedule an appointment without it.  We keep that information confidential but we must determine if we have a conflict of interest.  The most common conflict is that we have already met with the other party.  In that case, we cannot meet with you.  We do not disclose that fact (nor will we ever disclose that to the other party if he/she contacts us) but simply will tell you that we cannot meet with you because we have a conflict.  However, there may be other conflicts.  One of our attorneys may know you or your spouse/the other party in another way and may feel it would be a conflict to represent you.  Or, we may have represented someone connected to you such as your employer, an employee, a relative or a business associate.  Those individuals are a great source of referrals for us and it usually is not a problem but, depending on the facts, we also may consider it a potential conflict.  Whenever there is a potential ethical issue for us, we try to err on the side of caution.

When you come in for your appointment, we will also ask you to fill out an intake questionnaire.  We will ask you to provide more specific information including your income and assets.  The reason for this is so we can provide you more detailed information about what to expect in your case.  All of this information is kept strictly confidential.  The article does a very good job in describing the type of information you will be asked to provide and why.  Keep in mind, if you are uncomfortable in providing any of this information, simply discuss that with the attorney you are meeting with.

The one difference or problem I have with the article is that it indicates that the attorney will be giving you advice at your initial consultation.  This is not true! Until we are actually retained, we cannot provide you with legal advice.  However, what we will do is review the facts of your case, tell you what the law is, what the process is, what you might expect to happen and what we can do for you.

In our firm, it is our goal to provide you with realistic expectations about your case.  Keep in mind, we may tell you things that you are not going to be happy with.  However, we are going to give you an honest evaluation of your case.  It does not help you if we fill you with unrealistic expectations only for you to lose or be disappointed later.  If you want the kind of attorney who is simply going to do whatever you want, then we are not the firm for you.  Be forewarned though – hiring that kind of attorney is only going to cost you attorneys fees and disappointment later.

We have some other blog posts which you may find helpful which discuss what type of attorney to look for, when to start looking for a divorce attorney and what questions you can ask at you initial consultation (Archives – May, 2012).

If you have any questions or would like to meet with one of our lawyers for a free initial office consultation, please call us at 414-258-1644.  You can also visit our website for more information.

3 Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer Before You Hire Them

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and painful process. It’s made even worse by the fact that most people aren’t emotionally or financially ready to handle what’s ahead – even if they are the ones filing for divorce from their spouse. Nonetheless, finding the right divorce attorney is an absolutely critical decision, and one you don’t want to put off any longer than you have to.

With the right divorce lawyer on your side, you can stand a good chance of achieving a fair resolution and protecting that which you are legally entitled to. With the wrong divorce lawyer, however, you could find yourself in the midst of a long struggle that leaves you dealing with unintended consequences for the rest of your life.

Because this is such an enormous decision, it’s important that you do the right kinds of research. Here are three questions to ask a divorce lawyer before you hire them:

How many clients have you represented as a divorce lawyer in the past?

Although experience isn’t everything, it’s important for your divorce lawyer to have a sense of the way things work, and several past cases to draw lessons and insights from. Additionally, having a divorce lawyer with lots of experience allows you to take a closer look at their previous track record and see what they’ve been able to achieve for other clients in the past.

There isn’t any set amount of experience that’s perfect for a divorce lawyer, but be careful working with anyone who hasn’t been practicing for at least a few years or more. Given that the outcome of the proceedings will affect you, your finances, and your family for a very long time, you probably don’t want to entrust the job to someone without a little history behind them.

Who is your perfect client?

Because divorce is such a personal and multifaceted process, there are divorce attorneys who specialize in different types of cases, situations, and even clients. And so, the chances are very good that you could find a divorce lawyer in your area who has helped lots of other people who were in a situation similar to yours in the past.

Ask about your divorce lawyer’s perfect client, because the answer will tell you what sort of situations they are most familiar with – and the ones where they are most likely to get the results you are hoping for.  Also, ask your attorney how you can help and what types of things you can do to assist in the process.  You should be able to have input and control into your own case.  This will save you attorneys fees and give you greater satisfaction with the end result.  Your attorney should welcome your assistance and your input.  After all, it is your life and you have to live with the results.

How will you handle my case?

Depending on the reputation, schedule, and experience of your divorce lawyer, he or she may maintain a very small staff with a couple of executive assistants, or a very large one with several junior attorneys in the office. Neither of those is necessarily better, but it is good to find out from the outset how much of your case will be handled personally by your divorce lawyer, and how much will be assigned to other members of the team.

You should ask your attorney how they will communicate with you, what you should expect in terms of procedure and how things work in general.  You should also ask how quickly your attorney can respond to your questions and/or what happens if they are in court or you can’t get in touch with them.  Communication is key and you need to know up front how this will be handled.

Lastly, you should find out if your attorney will work cooperatively with the other party or his or her attorney or if they plan on litigating from the beginning.  You should decide the answer to this question – not your attorney.  Everyone has different expectations in their divorce and how they want their case to be handled.  Your attorney is working for you and in your best interest.  Sometimes what you want is not necessarily in your best interests, however, and you should feel comfortable listening to your attorney’s advice on this.

Even the most amicable divorces are rarely easy, from a legal standpoint or an emotional one. For that reason, you need to have the right divorce lawyer on your side.

If you have questions about the divorce process, or just want to meet with a divorce lawyer call us at 414-258-1644 to set up a free initial consultation today.  You can also visit our website for more information.

5 Signs You Need a New Divorce Lawyer

It’s unfortunate, but not every divorce lawyer is a great one, and there are attorneys out there who are more interested in collecting an hourly fee than they are in properly representing your interests while you legally separate from your spouse. And even beyond that, not every good divorce attorney is a great match for a particular client or situation for reasons that have to do with their background, fees, personality, or other details.

The bottom line is that sometimes you need to divorce yourself from a lawyer or law firm before you can get on with the business of divorcing from your spouse. Here are five signs you need to find a new divorce lawyer:

1. Your divorce lawyer doesn’t have enough experience. Going through a divorce could turn out to be the most significant legal and financial process you ever undertake, and one that will likely affect every day for the rest of your life. With that in mind, you want someone with years of experience in divorce law representing you, not a person who is still making a name for themselves.

2. Your divorce lawyer doesn’t ask many questions. No two divorce situations are identical, and your priorities (like keeping certain assets or maintaining child custody and placement) might be different from the ones other people had in the past. Because of that, it’s important to have a divorce lawyer that asks a lot of questions, so they can properly represent you. If they don’t, it’s time to move on.

3. Your divorce lawyer can’t remember you or your case.  Do you feel like you are re-inventing the wheel every time you talk to your divorce lawyer?  Do they forget your name or the major facts of your case (like whether you even have children)?  While your lawyer can’t be expected to remember every detail at all times, they should at least retain the basic facts of your case.  Even better, they remember most of the facts of your case.  If they don’t, they either have too many cases or a terrible memory or don’t care.  Either way, that is not good for you or your case.

4. You rarely see or hear from your divorce lawyer. Depending on the size of the law firm handling your divorce, you may spend a lot of time talking to junior attorneys, paralegals, and office assistants. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s also important that you have access to your divorce lawyer when you need to meet with him or her. If they can’t ever make time to speak with you, then you might consider taking your case elsewhere.

5. Your divorce lawyer stirs up emotional arguments. A good divorce lawyer will help you stay calm and measured throughout the legal process. If you find that your attorney regularly speaks in a way that makes you feel heated, then it might not be a good match, since overly emotional thinking during a divorce often leads to a longer negotiating time frame… not to mention decisions that you might regret later.

Your divorce is too important to trust to the wrong legal team, so if you spot one of these warning signs, consider looking elsewhere for representation.

If you need a great divorce lawyer to help protect your interests, why not call us at 414-258-1644 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys today?  For more information, also see our website.

Why All Divorce Lawyers Aren’t the Same… and Why it Matters to You

If you are just starting the process of a divorce, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed and frustrated. Your first impulse might be to find a great divorce lawyer with reasonable fees who can help you through the process and just get started right away.

That’s understandable, but it can also lead to big problems later.

Navigating the legal framework of a divorce is a lot more complicated than filling out forms, and there are many different ways to approach the process. Even the best divorce lawyers can have very different strategies and methods. More than that, working with one or the other can entail big differences in costs, stress, and even damage to your future relationships with your ex-spouse and children.

To put it another way, not all divorce lawyers are the same, and the differences are important to understand. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Divorce attorneys can have very different strategies

Some divorce lawyers are great at protecting assets, while others are experts in securing things like child custody and placement. To find the right match for your situation, consider what your biggest priorities are, and then try to find divorce attorneys who have matching experience. Once you meet with them, get a sense of what their legal strategy is like, and how that might affect your divorce proceedings.

It’s important to agree with your divorce lawyer’s negotiation style

Although there will undoubtedly be attorneys acting as middlemen, your divorce lawyer is essentially helping you to negotiate against your former spouse. That can be an emotionally draining process, and one that leads to poor decisions if it isn’t handled properly. For that reason, it’s important that your divorce lawyer have a negotiation style (no matter how aggressive or consolatory) that you agree with and support.

You may want a divorce lawyer with trial experience

Once things go to a courtroom, the entire dynamic of a divorce proceeding can change, and you’ll want a divorce attorney who’s comfortable in that environment. A divorce lawyer with trial experience will know how to manage emotions, make a favorable impression of the judge, and generally ensure that your best case is being put forward.

You don’t want to have a personality conflict with your divorce lawyer

You don’t have to like your divorce lawyer, but it is a good idea to choose one who doesn’t have a personality that clashes with your own, or one who doesn’t seem sympathetic to your situation. Whatever the outcome of your divorce proceedings are, it’s likely that they’ll continue to affect you for a very long time to come, so don’t partner up with a divorce attorney who doesn’t seem like a good match for your personality.

New clients are often surprised at the big differences that can exist between different divorce lawyers and the types of cases they handle. It might seem like a lot to take in at a particularly difficult and stressful time, but finding the right attorney for you is the first step toward a fast, efficient, and favorable divorce proceeding.

Are you looking for a great divorce lawyer to represent you? Call our office at 414-258-1644 to arrange a consultation today.  For more information, see Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC.

When Is It Time To Look For a Divorce Lawyer?

Often, the need to find a good divorce lawyer is obvious: Your spouse has served you with papers, you’ve been legally separated for a while, or you just know in your heart that “it’s over.” In some situations, however, things might not be that clear. Perhaps you are concerned that your marriage might be ending, or are worried that your spouse might file for divorce in the future.

When that happens, how do you know when it’s time to look for a good divorce lawyer?

Although there might not be any one unmistakable sign, our advice would be to remember that earlier is almost always better. That is, the moment you think you might need a divorce lawyer, you should probably start discreetly looking for one.

Here are a few good reasons why:

A good divorce lawyer can help explain what you’re getting into

There is not only the legal process of filing for divorce itself, but also all of the steps that are bound to come after, including a review of your assets and financial position, custodial agreements, and negotiating with your spouse’s divorce attorney. By starting a bit earlier, you can make better long-term decisions that could turn out to be incredibly important for the rest of your life.

Finding a divorce lawyer early means you won’t have to rush to find one later

The last thing you want, if you suddenly find that you are being sued for divorce, is to have to find a divorce lawyer without having adequate time to find a lawyer you are comfortable with and ask the questions that matter to you most. As with the divorce itself, choosing a divorce lawyer isn’t a step to take lightly, so don’t procrastinate on your search if you think it might be necessary.

A good divorce lawyer can help you take steps to protect yourself

If you know, or even suspect, that a divorce is imminent, then now is the perfect time to take a look at your financial situation, living arrangements, and other details that could suddenly become very important during the divorce proceedings. There are numerous things you can do right now to protect your future (or your children’s futures) by planning ahead with your divorce attorney.

Your decision isn’t final until you file for divorce

Scheduling a meeting with a divorce attorney doesn’t necessarily mean you will ultimately have to file for divorce. It could be the case that you decide it’s not the right avenue for you, that you want to give your marriage more time, or that there are other issues to be resolved first. In any of those situations, having the facts beforehand and preparing yourself can turn out to be invaluable later – even if it’s just for your own peace of mind.

It’s understandable that lots of people don’t want to be in a rush to meet with a divorce attorney, especially if they aren’t sure about the future of their marriage. If you have reason to suspect you might need a divorce lawyer in the future, however, follow our advice and start making some preliminary plans today. If you do end up needing a good attorney, you’ll be very glad you thought ahead and got one working for you.

To schedule a free initial office consultation to discuss a possible divorce, please contact us at 414-258-1644 or visit our website for further information.

Hiring an “Aggressive” Attorney

Whether you have finally decided to file for divorce or your spouse has just had you served with papers, the next step is to select your lawyer. You are scorned and upset and you want an attorney that will fight to the bitter end for every penny, no matter what the cost. Whether it is your assets or your kids, you want an attorney that will be aggressive, unrelenting and strong. An attorney that will fight for what you want and not stop no matter what the financial or emotional cost. You have to ask yourself, though, is this really what you want?

There are many attorneys that will fit into this mold and take advantage of your vulnerable situation. When selecting an attorney you need to make sure you have an attorney who is not only a tough advocate but also an attorney who will advise and counsel you. Too often the aggressive “pitbull” attorney will fight without knowing what exactly he or she is fighting for. In a tenuous situation, such as a divorce, parties need to stay focused on the final goal and make sure that goal is realistic. A fight just to fight may result in additional trauma to you, your kids and your pocketbook.

When searching for the right attorney you need to find an attorney who understands the law and will not lead you astray with unrealistic expectations. Attorneys who are willing to zealously advocate for your position, but are strong enough to advise you when your position will not provide you with the result for which you seek. Too often litigants and their attorneys who take too strong arm approach to divorce negotiations which only ends up backfiring. The cost may be more than you can afford.

A good attorney is going to understand your goals, guide your expectations and help facilitate a settlement. A good attorney is going to understand when a settlement is not possible and it is time to prepare for litigation. So when looking for that “aggressive attorney” make sure that the aggressiveness does not come at the expense of placement with your kids or their college education fund.

-Rebecca K. Millenbach