Divorce

Divorce Lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin

At the law office of Wessel, Lehker & Fumelle, our lawyers utilize over 50 years of combined experience and a straightforward approach when handling divorce issues. Whether you are seeking a contested or uncontested divorce, we are able to handle the central divorce (dissolution of marriage) and any issues that stem from the divorce. Contact us today to discuss your divorce or to learn more about one of the issues listed below.

Children's Issues

If there are children involved in the divorce, the entire situation requires an approach that considers their best interests when determining how to award child custody and child support. Custody is handled in the best interests of the child by the courts, while child support is awarded based upon a statute-based formula. We confidently represent our clients' interests throughout the process of resolving child support and child custody matters and afterward, including modification and enforcement of standing orders.

Division of Property and Debt Distribution

In every divorce the court is required to divide the parties’ property, including debts. The court starts by determining whether either party has property that was obtained by gift or inheritance; if so, that property will be set aside for the person who received it. Wisconsin law presumes that all other property should be divided equally. Even property that one of the parties owned prior to the marriage is included in the property to be divided equally (unless that property was obtained by gift or inheritance). 

In order for the court to isolate property that one of the parties received by gift or inheritance, the parties must have avoided commingling that property with other property of the marriage. Keeping gifted or inherited property in an isolated account is a good way to ensure that the property will be awarded to the person who received it. If the property has been commingled and it appears that the recipient party intended to donate the gifted or inherited property to the marriage, the court can consider that donation as a contribution one of the parties made to the marriage. 

Pursuant to Wis. Stats. § 767.61(3), the court may deviate from an equal division of property. To deviate from an equal division of the property, the court considers the length of the marriage, the property brought to the marriage by each party, whether one of the parties has substantial gifts or inheritances, the contribution each party made to the marriage, and several other factors.  For example, in a short-term marriage, if one party brought substantially more net worth to the marriage than the other, the court may deviate and give a higher percentage of the property to that party.  In a long-term marriage, the court is less likely to give recognition to property brought to the marriage.

Under the property division statute, the court is required to honor any premarital agreements made by the parties with regard to the division of their property, unless the agreement is found to be inequitable.

Spousal Maintenance

A payment made by one spouse to support the other after a divorce is called spousal maintenance. Sometimes known as alimony or spousal support, spousal maintenance is awarded according to fairness and need of the spouse, in the court's estimation. Post-divorce income is examined, as well as factors such as age of the parties, length of the marriage, and income-earning potential of the spouse seeking maintenance payments.

Collaborative Law

Though we are not afraid to argue a case in court, our firm is well versed in a popular avenue of dispute resolution called collaborative law. Through this process, spouses can work cooperatively to resolve a divorce and related issues, such as child custody and spousal maintenance. This process often relieves the stress and anxiety of a divorce, allowing the family to maintain ties and respectful relationships.

We also handle legal separation issues for clients that wish to live separately but not divorce.

To learn more about the divorce and family law services our firm offers, contact an attorney at our firm today.