In times of economic downturn, it can appear that hiring an attorney for your divorce or paternity matter is too expensive of an investment. In the Wisconsin, anybody can file a divorce, paternity, or other family law related matter without an attorney. It is an especially attractive idea when the other parent or party in the action appears to agree with all the issues that may arise in family law related matters. However, things can quickly change in family law cases (which includes divorce, initial paternities, requests to change placement, custody or child support, or requests to change maintenance or alimony, etc.). Hiring an attorney can be an extremely helpful investment in the following circumstances:
- Attorneys who commonly practice in the family law area are familiar with what Court Commissioners and Judges expect to hear in these cases. For example, if you are requesting a change in placement, the Court will need to understand when the last order regarding placement occurred, and the type of change that may have occurred to show why a change may be in a child’s best interest.
- Attorneys know what paperwork needs to be filed to effectively use your Court time and ensure that your case is heard. For example, some counties require specific documentation to be filed to get a court date in a divorce proceeding.
- Attorneys know why certain agreements may be very helpful to avoid returning to court, or may have unintended, negative consequences. For example, if parties agree to divide a 401k in a divorce, certain, specific paperwork is needed to divide the 401k without incurring penalties or incurring avoidable tax consequences to either party.
- In cases involving domestic violence, having an attorney can ensure appropriate communication, or even avoid the need for a victim to communicate with an abusive partner. Family law attorneys can help navigate restraining orders between parties as well.
- Attorneys can help educate parties as to what goals can reasonably be accomplished in a Court action and help inform parties as to more resources that may be available to families outside of having a trial in front of a judge. For example, parents may benefit from a therapist’s assistance to help parent better communicate and work together for the benefit of the children. The input from a therapist may be more helpful to these parents than what a Judge may order.
- Attorneys can be helpful in providing possible solutions that will likely be approved by a Court Commissioner or judge. For example, an attorney knows what factors to look for in determining what a child support order should be and may be able to obtain more information regarding the other parent’s income if that parent is uncooperative. The attorney will also understand how information regarding income and placement time is used to determine an appropriate child support order.
- Some decisions made during an initial action cannot be changed or are difficult to change, so if you do not have an attorney you might make a mistake that cannot be undone!
These are just a few examples of how hiring an attorney can be very helpful and even necessary in navigating a family law matter. As is often the case in legal matters involving the family, these issues can be very emotional for parties. Attorneys who practice family law understand that these cases can feel overwhelming and even scary because these issues are so important to the parties involved. It is an attorney’s job to offer expertise in the legal process and offer rational advice to their clients. Making well informed decisions can help you avoid coming back to Court in the future and can help parties confidently move forward with their lives. If you feel you could benefit from the advice of an attorney in your family law matter, please call us at (414) 258-1644 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.