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Milwaukee Family Law Blog

On spouses who hide assets

Wisconsin residents who are considering a divorce should be aware that it is not uncommon for money troubles to lie at the root of their marital difficulties. Recent studies have produced some revealing statistics relating to marital financial issues.

It is surprisingly frequent to find spouses who feel that it is acceptable to leave their partners out of financial decisions. About 20 percent of married people said that they would make a purchase of $500 without informing their spouse of it. Surveys find that approximately 6 percent of all married people have opened a bank account that was hidden from the spouse. About 10 percent of all spouses describe their partner as financially controlling, demanding unfair domination over the couple's economic affairs. It is also regrettably common for one spouse to hide assets from the other.

Tips entrepreneurs heed during divorce

For Wisconsin entrepreneurs, one of the most frightening concerns is the thought of losing their business in divorce proceedings. While many individuals may focus on real estate or retirement accounts, entrepreneurs have generally spent years developing a business. By taking certain steps during the divorce process, they may be able to protect their investment.

Before an entrepreneur starts to be concerned about property division, he or she may seek legal advice or research the relevant laws pertaining to ownership of the business. If the business was a solo operation, the other spouse may not be entitled to half of the business. Instead, the proportion of the business that may be subject to division can rely on a number of factors, such as the role of the other spouse in the business, the length of the marriage and the ways that the parties contributed to the business and the marriage. Before the entrepreneur begins to think about how the business will be treated, all of the assets of significant value may be identified and evaluated. This process involves evaluating the business assets and possibly getting an appraisal of the business itself.

How divorce affects Wisconsin entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs in the state of Wisconsin should be aware of the potential ramifications to their business before they divorce. Many entrepreneurs forget that their business is generally considered a marital asset and therefore is subject to consideration when assigning valuation to the estate, leading to unpleasant surprises in court when matters such as spousal maintenance, child support and other expenses are determined. By understanding how divorce may influence their business, entrepreneurs can better protect themselves.

During a divorce, all the assets of both partners are generally considered. This includes the business interests of both parties. For example, terminating a former spouse who still works for the business may lead to a further lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. Likewise, an entrepreneur must declare the business's full value at the outset, because if the court discovers hidden assets later, the court is more likely to react negatively to the spouse who attempted to conceal them.

Important items may be overlooked during divorce

Wisconsin couples who are going through the divorce have many things to consider, and some items might be overlooked as a result of the stress and emotions that often accompany the end of a marriage. A few tips may help the process go more smoothly.

A divorcing spouse should gather financial information together early. It may be helpful to make out a list, and copy all needed documents beforehand. That way, if documents disappear, the papers an individual needs will be safely gathered together. People should also remember that their retirement accounts, insurance policies, wills and other documents name beneficiaries. An individual who is divorced may be busy trying to get his or her life back together, and these important documents may be overlooked. Changing those beneficiary designations prevents an ex-spouse from collecting. In addition, if an individual is granted part of a retirement account as part of the divorce settlement, a qualified domestic relations order will need to be prepared and approved by the court.

Hair follicle testing and false positives for marijuana

Drug testing is sometimes ordered by Wisconsin courts handling child custody cases where a parent is suspected of illegal drug use. The hair follicle test is designed to detect metabolites produced in a person's body after use of illegal or prescription drugs. A new study in Germany has found, however, that this can be a problem for marijuana testing.

The hair follicle drug test looks for cannabinoids in a test subject's hair strands to detect marijuana use. Cannabinoids can be transferred to a non-smoker via contact with a marijuana smoker or secondhand smoke, researchers found. This could result in a false positive for marijuana.

Divorce mistakes and how to avoid them

When Wisconsin couples divorce, emotions often run high. What had once been a loving and respectful relationship is now coming to an end and there are likely to be bad feelings on both sides. Unfortunately, many divorces become far more difficult and expensive than they have to be because of choices made by one or both spouses during the process.

In many cases, draw-out disputes could be avoided if both partners took responsibility for their actions during the legal process. It is not unusual for partners to feel slighted, annoyed and even harassed by their soon-to-be ex-spouse. Unfortunately, the adverse effects of such behavior are compounded when the slighted spouse responds negatively. At this point, mudslinging becomes more important than carefully negotiating the terms of the divorce.

Emotions may cloud financial issues in divorce

Wisconsin couples who are facing the end of their marriages must also take a look at their financial matters. Before sitting down with an attorney or another professional, they should look at their own income, debt and assets as well as that of their spouse. They should also look at their joint marital assets.

People may not realize how fully their financial situation might change after a divorce. In addition to paying child support and alimony, they may also have to take on a rent payment or factor in higher utilities. Property division might include splitting up a jointly owned business.

Babies before marriage may carry less stigma in Wisconsin

If a woman had a baby prior to getting married at any point between 1985 and 1995, she was 60 percent more likely to get divorced. However, that same woman would not be any more likely to get a divorce if she had a baby before getting married between 1997 and 2010. This is according to a study conducted by the nonprofit Council on Contemporary Families.

There were two possible reasons cited in an effort to explain that finding. First, there tends to be less of a stigma that comes with having a child before a couple got married. Second, the number of parents who were not married increased from 17 percent to 35 percent between the two time periods. Overall, researchers say that couples who are not married are taking things at their own pace, which may reduce the urge for a shotgun wedding.

Judge orders reunification therapy in bitter custody dispute

While custody disputes in Wisconsin may sometimes become contentious, few become so bitter that they generate nationwide attention. Media outlets around the country reported in July 2015 that a family court judge had placed three children in a juvenile detention facility after they refused to eat lunch with their father, and the Michigan case continued to make headlines when the judge subsequently ordered the children to participate in reunification therapy.

Reunification therapy is controversial because it involves separating the children from their custodial parent and sending them to some form of retreat to undergo similar treatment to that given to individuals who have been brainwashed. Judges in several parts of the country have ordered this kind of therapy when they feel that one of the parents involved in a child custody dispute is having a detrimental impact on their children. The mother of the children in the Michigan case has made several accusations against her former husband including claims that he abused their 11-year-old son.

Why a prenuptial agreement may be a good idea

Wisconsin residents who are contemplating marriage or remarriage may be in a quandary over whether or not to ask for a prenuptial before the wedding. Because a prenuptial lists assets already attained by each individual, it may be a good idea even if you live in a community property state such as Wisconsin.

There are various aspects of a prenuptial agreement that are beneficial. Your individual property is protected and, if one individual stands to receive an inheritance, that may be added to a prenuptial. Defining common and individual assets may prevent problems in the future. Because this is not the first marriage for all couples, those who have been divorced may wish to make an arrangement to provide for children or grandchildren from the previous marriage from the estate, and this may be accomplished through the use of a prenuptial agreement.