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Milwaukee Family Law Blog

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.

Tips for dividing a house during a divorce

Wisconsin couples who are going through divorce may find it difficult to get through the property division phase. In divorce cases involving individuals of high net worth, the splitting of assets may be more complex. When marriages end and the divorcing couples own homes together, there is the potential for difficulty surrounding their divisions.

In some cases, it is advisable to sell the home and divide the profits between both parties. Usually, though, one person ends up keeping the house and buying out the other spouse. This may seem relatively simple and straightforward, but it comes with its own set of risks.

Basketball player seeks full custody

Wisconsin fans of basketball may be surprised to hear that Paul George, an all-star player for the Indiana Pacers, is seeking full custody of his daughter, a two-month-old girl. The petition released by his lawyers is contingent on George being proven to be the father in a second paternity test. An initial pre-birth test confirmed that there was a 99.9 percent chance that George is the father, but he requested that another test be performed.

If George is found to be the father of the child, he has said he will "embrace" his role as a father. George's lawyers have said in the child custody petition that George has the means to care for the child and is the most qualified parent to make day-to-day decisions in the child's life. It says that the child's mother is not qualified to raise the child because she is unemployed and has not sought employment since the child was born. George's petition also asks that, if his plea for sole custody is denied, that the mother be given less than Florida law recommends in terms of child support.

Former team owner wins divorce fee fight

Wisconsin fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers may be familiar with Frank McCourt, who sold the team for $2 billion in 2012. McCourt also divorced his wife of nearly 30 years earlier that year. As part of the divorce agreement, Jamie McCourt was awarded a total of $131 million tax-free, as well as ownership of several of the luxury homes the couple had owned together. In their divorce settlement, though, the McCourts included a clause providing that if either party chose to challenge the agreement at a later date, he or she would be responsible for paying the other's legal fees.

Jamie McCourt later came to believe that Frank had misrepresented the value of the Dodgers in the asset division phase of the divorce, and thus that she was entitled to a greater settlement. Her lawyers took this claim to court, and it was rejected. Pursuant to the agreement, she was ordered to pay Frank's $1.9 million in court costs. In an effort to get out of the agreement, Jamie's lawyers argued that $1.9 million was excessive.

Pet custody changing the landscape of divorce settlements

Residents of Wisconsin who follow celebrity news may have heard about the divorce proceedings of actress Melanie Griffith and her former spouse, Antonio Banderas. One dispute the couple seemed to be having was over the custody of the family pets. This is a part of a growing trend of divorce disputes over pets, and courts across the country are having a hard time transitioning to accommodate them.

Different judges have been handling the disputes in different ways. Some judges, for example, can relate to the bond that can be shared between a canine and its owner, and in these instances, they sometimes allow the divorcees to approach the case more similarly to that of child custody. The court determines who was primarily responsible for the care of the animal. Other less empathetic judges might treat the case as though the animals are simply property. They ask the divorcees how much they would pay to keep the animal, and the highest bidder wins.

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