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Milwaukee Family Law Blog

Dad asking for full custody of his 3 children

Wisconsin residents may have heard about three Michigan children who were sent to a juvenile detention facility for refusing to spend time with their father. Now, their father is filing for full custody of the kids, claiming that their mother is a roadblock to any efforts to build a relationship with them. The filing also asks that the mother be physiologically evaluated before being granted limited visitation rights.

The family lived in Israel until the children's mother took them to Michigan where she filed for divorce in 2009. The father stated that he moved to America in 2015 to be closer with the children and to foster a relationship with them. The mother claims that he has previously abused the couple's 10-year-old child. Despite the apparent acrimony between the parents, the father says that seeing the children taken away was like an execution and that they should not be punished for the parent's poor relationship.

Kardashian and Disick breakup could lead to custody battle

Wisconsin residents may be interested to know that reality TV stars Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick have decided to part ways. The long-time couple announced their breakup on July 6.

According to media reports, Disick's split from Kardashian is said to be related to his bouts with substance abuse. He was recently photographed partying in France with an ex-girlfriend after a stint in rehab. It is not known if Disick will seek custody of the couple's three young children, but legal professionals said his past drug and alcohol problems will not necessarily bar him from gaining some form of parental rights.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck divorce after 10 years, 1 day

Wisconsin residents have likely heard about the high-profile divorce of 42-year-old actor Ben Affleck and 43-year-old actress Jennifer Garner. After exactly 10 years and one day of marriage, the couple decided to call it quits. Many believe that the date that was ultimately chosen was not a coincidence.

Although Garner and Affleck have been separated for months, they waited until after their 10-year anniversary to file for divorce. That decision may have been influenced by a law in California that states that any marriage lasting longer than 10 years is a long-term marriage. A lesser-earning spouse who is divorcing after 10 years of marriage may petition for a greater amount of spousal support than a spouse who was in a marriage of a shorter duration.

Shared parenting in child custody decisions

The concept of shared parenting, or the practice of ensuring a child receives as much time with both divorced parents as possible, is quickly gaining ground in Wisconsin and elsewhere. While courts are not supposed to prefer one gender over the other when making child custody determinations, in practice it is the mother who is most often awarded physical custody. However, the idea of shared parenting as a presumptive court order is becoming more prevalent, signaling a possible move away from the current custody system.

Census data shows that 83 percent of custodial parents are women, and fathers are often limited to prescribed periods of visitation. Many states are considering legislation to combat these trends and allow both parents to have more time with their children.

Gay marriage rights upheld nationwide by U.S. Supreme Court

Although a lower court ruling in 2014 recognized same-sex marriages in Wisconsin, the right to marry for same-sex couples declared by the U.S. Supreme Court in its June 2015 decision gives the marriages of Wisconsin same-sex couples legal weight even if they move to another state. This interstate issue was part of the case before the Supreme Court. In Obergefell vs. Hodges, one state had refused to recognize a man as a surviving spouse because he had married his partner in a different state.

Additionally, the Supreme Court considered the question of whether the equal protection and due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment applied to same-sex marriages. In a 5-4 decision, the justices chose to extend these rights to gay couples. Writing for the majority , Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged that marriage had historically been defined as a union of opposite sex partners but conceded that the institution had evolved and changed over the years.

Study shows fathers contribute in ways other than child support

Wisconsin fathers who are noncustodial parents may be interested in a new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in June that says the phenomenon of "deadbeat dads" who do not pay child support is overstated. In fact, according to the 2011 census, roughly the same percentage of mothers and fathers who are ordered to pay child support do so in full.

The study found that what one of the authors called "marginally employed" men still found ways to contribute to their children's lives even if their record of paying child support suggested otherwise. The study found that among 367 lower-income fathers, almost half offered some sort of in-kind support such as school supplies or food. While only about 25 percent of the men paid court-recognized child support, roughly another 28 percent gave money directly to the mother.

Child Support: Perception versus law

Wisconsin parents who are contemplating the end of their marriage often find that child support becomes a contentious issue if an agreement cannot otherwise be reached. A recently-published study has revealed that many people feel that the way in which child support is ordered by the courts is not entirely fair.

The study, conducted by two Arizona State University professors, involved presenting to a group of prospective jurors in Arizona as well as to residents of England some hypothetical child support scenarios and asking how they would rule if they were judges entrusted with setting the amount to be paid. The study found that residents of both countries felt that the amount established for child support should be impacted by the custodial parent's income. Presently, many states only take the income of the non-custodial parent's into account when determining the amount to be paid.

Common divorce mistakes that should be avoided

For Wisconsin couples who are going through a divorce, protecting their finances may not always be a top priority. However, when emotions are running high, it is easy to make costly mistakes that have severe financial costs for one or both parties for years to come. One of the most common mistakes people make during a divorce is being unaware of their financial situation. From basic household operations to larger assets such as 401(k) plans and IRAs, it is essential to have a good understanding of which assets are available for division.

A forensic accountant can provide an independent examination of the couple's financial marital assets, making it possible to negotiate effectively. An accountant can also look at tax history and can potentially uncover assets being hidden by one spouse. Another major mistake is to not seek the guidance of an attorney. Because of rules dealing with conflicts of interest, each spouse is advised to have separate legal representation.

Jon Gosselin attempting to change custody order

Wisconsin reality television fans may have been following the story involving Jon Gosselin and his quest to get custody of his 11-year-old daughter. Reports indicate that the girl told her father that her mother was being cruel toward her and that she was being forced to continue to appear on television although she didn't want to. Jon and his ex-wife Kate Gosselin were said to be on bad terms prior to their divorce and do not have a relationship currently.

However, whether or not a judge will modify an existing custody order depends on whether or not there has been a change in circumstances. It will be up to Jon Gosselin as the non-custodial parent to prove that such a change has taken place. It is unlikely that he will get custody of the child, as changing the custody order could have an impact on the other children.

International child custody cases complex for government, parents

Wisconsin residents may have noticed several international child custody cases in the news lately, including one high-profile case involving a New Hampshire woman facing charges for illegally taking her 8-year-old daughter to Central America more than 10 years ago. These cases underscore the complex issues facing parents and governments when dealing with international custody fights.

According to the U.S. State Department, at least 8,000 American children were kidnapped and taken to another country by a parent between 2008 and 2013. Currently, the United States and 92 other countries have signed a treaty which was designed to protect children from international parental kidnapping and to facilitate their safe return to their native country. However, only 50 percent of American children who are abducted to a signatory country are ever returned to the U.S.