Family Court hears a variety of cases involving the inner workings of families. When families break up, the courts may decide a number of issues. When the court faces an issue that involves children, then the case can become emotional and controversial. Four of the most common actions which involve children are divorce actions, paternity actions, child support actions and post-judgment modification actions.
Three of the four most common actions are often the starting point for a family law case. The three actions are divorce actions, paternity actions, and child support actions. The actions may start for different reasons, but all three will typically handle similar issues so long as a child is involved with the case. Often, legal custody and physical placement are the biggest issues faced.
Divorce / Legal Separation
First, let’s look at how divorce and child custody are related. If a couple getting a divorce have minor children, then it’s probable that legal custody will need to be determined and a placement schedule will need to be set. This determination might be set at the same time as a divorce settlement. If the parents can’t agree to a settlement, then the issues may be litigated during the contested divorce and set for the judge to determine. But sometimes, child custody is “punted” and revisited after a divorce proceeding. This way the court can issue a final divorce and allow the parents to move on if the child custody issues are particularly complex.
A paternity action is necessary to establish the legal father for a child. Most often, the state sets things in motion by filing the paternity action in order to ensure a father of a child receiving government benefits is supporting the child. When this occurs, the State of Wisconsin and the mother are listed as co-petitioners, even though the mother does not have much say over whether the action has started or not. Once paternity is established, or in this case adjudicated, then the legal father has all the rights and responsibilities that come with fatherhood.
Dad has the right to demand joint legal custody and share in child-raising decisions. He has the right to request placement time and have the child live with him part time. If legal custody and physical placement orders aren’t determined at a paternity judgement, they are determined in a post-judgement action.
Support cases pick up a gap between divorce cases and paternity cases. Specifically, they address a situation where the father is legally recognized as the father, but custody, placement, and child support need to be determined. For example, let’s say that Mom and Dad are dating but not married when a child is born. Dad is legally established as the child’s father. Later, Mom and Dad have a falling out, and they split up. In many circumstances, a single parent has a right to collect child support from the other parent. Consequently, Mom or Dad files a child support motion in Family Court.
The three actions above will set the ground rules for the co-parents, but as life changes those rules may need to change with it. When those changes need to occur the legal action that makes those changes is called a post-judgement action.
Free Family Law consultation
Family Law Attorney Devin Shanley of Shanley Law LLC helps parents navigate their way through Family Court. Emotions run high when children are involved, and Attorney Shanley offers a a calming and steady presence. He explains things in easy-to-understand terms as he helps Mom and Dad develop Family Court orders that are reasonable and fair. Contact Attorney Shanley today for a free Family Law consultation.
About Us: Attorney Devin Shanley is the approachable expert clients can trust. A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Devin has been developing legal solutions in his beloved hometown since 2012. Married to Mo and dad to two rambunctious kids, he has a soft spot for the Green Bay Packers, grilling out, and playing with his kids. His areas of practice are Estate Planning, Family Law, Business Law, and Non-Profit Organization Law. Schedule your free consultation by calling 920-471-4337.