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Milwaukee Family Law Blog

How can a grandparent gain custody of a child?

Under Wisconsin law, a grandparent may petition the court for visitation or custody rights to a grandchild so long as certain provisions are met. The primary consideration of the court is always the best interests of the child, and the court may also seek the child's direct opinion on matters of visitation. The child's opinion will have a strong bearing on the court's decision. If a child has previously had a positive relationship with the grandparent, and that relationship has been disrupted or threatened in some way, then the grandparent can take legal action to maintain it.

Other factors regarding grandparent rights also have a strong bearing on the court's decision. The grandparent must be able to show that they he or she is directly related to the grandchild through either parent. This may involve a paternity test if the grandparent is on the father's side. There are some circumstances that may bar a grandparent from having visitation rights. For example, the child cannot have been adopted by a different family. This could occur if the parental rights of the original biological parents were terminated.

How much child support will I have to pay in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, there are three main factors that are taken into account when determining how much child support a parent must pay. These factors include the parent's income, how much time a child spends with each parent and whether or not a parent is supporting other children. In the event that a parent has an exceptionally high income or a lower than average income, a court may modify a child support order.

For most cases, there are guidelines that judges will use to determine how much support a parent must pay. Under these guidelines, a parent with one child will pay 17 percent of his or her income to support that child, and this can range up to 34 percent for five or more children. This means that a parent who makes $1,500 a month would pay $255 to support one child. Someone with an income of $4,000 per month would pay $1,360 to support five children.

Grandparents' rights to visitation in Wisconsin

The best interests of the children are always the governing principle behind court decisions regarding child visitation, custody and support. Grandparents have the option to seek court-ordered visitation rights. If the grandparent and child have a relationship that is similar in nature to a parent-child relationship, the grandparent might be granted visitation. In addition, a grandparent may be granted visitation if it is determined to be in the best interest of the child and one of the child's parents has died. If a stepparent adopts a child, this will have no effect on a grandparent's rights.

According to child custody statutes, the best interest of a child is determined through the consideration of several factors including the relationship and interaction between the child and grandparent, the child's wishes, the grandparent's wishes, the physical and mental health of involved parties and many other factors. If the court determines that one or more parties has a significant issue with drug or alcohol abuse, or there is evidence of domestic or child abuse, this could affect the decision whether to grant visitation to a grandparent.

Forensic accountants and divorce teams

People in Wisconsin who are considering a divorce or have already begun the process might wish to consult with a specific type of accountant called a forensic accountant. These professionals can be of assistance in the analysis of diverse and unusual financial portfolios, including those in which assets are concealed or misreported.

This has obvious applications in cases where there is reason to believe that one partner is hiding assets or being less than honest about economic facts relating to the marital property. However, the services of a forensic accountant may be of assistance even in cases where the two parties are amicable and work together to arrive at a divorce settlement agreement.

Modification of original custody agreement possible

Child custody arrangements in Wisconsin are structured to provide what is best for the child. The custody agreement may be changed when circumstances demand it, and there are standards that provide guidance to the court and parents on this. Knowing the provisions and working to address specific concerns may be helpful.

While physical placement and legal custody provisions in the order may be changed during the first two years by statute, this period is seen as a time of adaptation and adjustment to new living arrangements for both the children and the parents. If circumstances demand it and if a parent shows that the child will be adversely affected by continuance of the original order, the court may revise the child custody order. Physical placement of the child decides the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Although change to the custody order may significantly alter the amount of time the child spends with each parent, it may be done if circumstances have changed or the change is good for the child's well-being. Economic change or changes in marital status are not included in the court's consideration.

Wisconsin police find father who owed $250,000 in child support

A 48-year-old man who was reportedly $250,000 behind in child support payments was taken into custody at a country club in Los Angeles. The man had reportedly not paid his $563 in monthly child support since 1996. Although he was taken into custody by a combination of Los Angeles police officers and U.S. Marshals, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office had him under surveillance.

The man faces 10 counts of felony failure to support a child and could spend up to 15 years in prison if convicted. He could also face the prospect of fines and restitution in addition to the jail time. The man is expected back in Milwaukee to face the charges in September 2014. Police say that his Internet presence and success as a businessman gave him a public profile, which made it easier for them to catch up to him.

What are grandparent visitation rights?

In cases where the child's biological parents are deceased or are otherwise unable to care for their children in Wisconsin, grandparent visitation rights exist so that grandparents may be able to continue a relationship with their grandchildren. Ultimately, if grandparents are awarded visitation, they have the legal right to be able to visit their grandchild.

Depending upon the specific circumstances, grandparents may have the right to visitation under state laws. Restrictive visitation laws allow the grandparents to potentially be awarded visitation if the children's parents are no longer married to each other of if one or both parents die. Permissive visitation laws allow grandparents to potentially visit their grandchildren if the child's parents are still married or if they are both alive. If this is the case, the court will determine if visitation is in the best interest of the child.

Grandparents' rights and raising grandchildren

Some Wisconsin individuals may be part of a growing trend of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Courts increasingly favor trying to place children with family members rather than in foster families with strangers. The number of children living with their grandparents grew from 2.4 million in 2000 to 4.9 million in 2010.

The hope is often that children raised by their grandparents will be brought up an environment similar to the one their parents might have created for them. It is also less disruptive for the children if they are sent to live with people that they know.

Hedge fund billionaire files for divorce from French-born wife

Wisconsin residents who follow high-asset divorces may have heard that a Chicago hedge fund billionaire, Kenneth Griffin, filed for divorce recently in a circuit court in Illinois. The couple were married for eleven years and have three small children.

The $20 billion hedge fund's founder, 45, and his wife, 43, were married in 2003 and separated for about one year. Griffin's petition for divorce, citing the marriage's irretrievable breakdown, was filed while his French-born wife was on vacation with their children. According to her attorneys, she had no advance warning it was going to happen. Both parties are hoping the dissolution of their marriage may be kept private and provide what is best for their children in the divorce settlement.

Parents prosecuted for lack of child support payments

For some Wisconsin parents, it's acceptable to go to great lengths to avoid having to pay child support. However, not all support-evading non-custodial parents think their choices through all the way. Some are able to avoid paying much by claiming they don't have the money, but they are then caught by authorities when they brag about money on social networking sites. One father was charged with a criminal count of avoiding child support payments when he was found to be boasting on his Facebook page about the amount of money he brought home from work.

The case was an especially charged one because the child whom the man was failing to support was three and a half years old and had leukemia. The father had paid a total of $189 to support the child - a payment that averaged out to be 14 cents per day of the child's life. The mother said the father only paid the minimal amount of support he did to avoid incarceration. The mother was left to pay for the boy's many medical procedures.

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