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Waukesha Law Blog

Study examines child abuse, parental alienation claims

Wisconsin mothers who accuse their children's father of abuse and who are in turn accused by the father of parental alienation may lose custody of their children. In a study of 2,000 nationwide custody cases involving abuse and parental alienation conducted by a professor at George Washington University Law School, a mother's claim of child abuse was never substantiated if the father's parental alienation claim was. In cases involving sexual abuse, just one in 51 were substantiated if the father also claimed parental alienation.

Parental alienation syndrome involves one parent's manipulation of a child until the child becomes ambivalent or negative toward the other parent. It was popularized in the 1980s by a psychiatrist and is believed to be widespread, but it remains a controversial diagnosis. It may also contribute to what the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence estimates is around 58,000 children each year who are placed in the custody of an abusive parent or allowed unsupervised time with that parent.

Protecting pets with estate planning

Most households in Wisconsin have a pet, but few people think about what would happen to their animals if they suddenly passed away. Even though most people live far longer than dogs, cats and other domestic animals, planning for the future of a pet in case of the unexpected shows true compassion. By putting provisions for pets in a living trust, animals will get the care they need in both the short and the long-term.

A pet trust is the ideal legal tool for animal owners who want to ensure their pet is well cared for in the future. This trust, which can be separate or part of an existing trust, can include the name of a new caretaker and instructions for care. The trust will include funds that will be used for the sole purpose of feeding, housing and meeting the medical needs of the animal.

Financial planning during a divorce

Spouses in Wisconsin who are ending a marriage should make a post-divorce budget. This can be particularly important for a partner who has not been very involved in the family finances. They should also think about how they will pay for the divorce and keep costs down.

Couples will need to divide both assets and debts. This can be a complex process. For example, they'll want to consider how much liquidity they require in their assets and what the tax implications might be of keeping certain assets. Some assets may be worth less than they appear to be once taxes are accounted for. Keeping the home may require special consideration since it should be refinanced to take one spouse's name off the mortgage. Owning a home also requires a certain amount of cash flow, and this may not be feasible in some cases. If there are children, the parents may want to discuss support obligations as well as how they are going to pay for college education.

Why adults should create an estate plan

Wisconsin residents may be able to use a series of documents that determine what happens to their property after they die. The documents can also be used to determine who cares for a minor child after a parent passes. Anyone who is 18 or older can benefit from having at least a will as part of their estate plans. A will can clarify who gets certain assets and why, which can prevent a costly court battle.

Without such a document, state law could determine who gets a car, money in a bank account or other property. For example, a parent could get an item that would have otherwise been given to an uncle, a close friend or a charitable organization. With a will, a person can also state who is not entitled to inherit anything from his or her estate.

The factors to consider when choosing a business entity

Starting a business is an exciting time for a Wisconsin entrepreneur. During this stage of your business career, you will have to make many important choices that will affect the future of your company. This includes choosing the most appropriate type of business entity, or structure, for your company.

This is a significant choice that will impact your operations for years to come. It is not a decision to take lightly, and you will benefit from doing the research necessary to ensure that you make the right choice. There are certain factors to consider, including the type of business you have, your goals for the future and more. Business owners often find it beneficial to speak about their concerns with an attorney before moving forward with a choice of entity.

Social media content can be damaging in divorce cases

Most Wisconsin residents have at least one active social media account and many have several. Online platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram allow people to stay in touch with friends, colleagues and family members, but they can also provide divorcing spouses with material that can be used in both property division negotiations and family court. Spouses who post disparaging comments about their soon-to-be ex husbands or wives should bear in mind that this information can sometimes be retrieved even if it was subsequently deleted.

Social media posts that could prove problematic in a divorce case include photographs that suggest infidelity or reveal extravagant spending. People who claim that they are finding it difficult to make ends meet could find images of lavish purchases hard to explain, and online chats that arranged romantic trysts could prompt family law judges to take a firmer approach than they otherwise would have. Spouses who have made such posts may be wise to delete them before taking legal action. They should also consider revising their privacy settings and removing friends or followers who could prove embarrassing.

Choosing a trust as an IRA beneficiary

For some people in Wisconsin, using a trust can offer certain estate planning advantages. The estate owner will maintain a higher level of control over their assets and be able to dispense funds responsibly to beneficiaries. Trusts also make it easier to pass on significant amounts of money to minor children in a controlled manner. Because items handled through a trust do not go through the probate system, the allocation process is more private and protected.

At the same time, many people turn to individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to save for their elder years. IRAs can accumulate significant sums over the years, so much that there may be substantial amounts to plan for in case the account holder passes away. When setting up an IRA, a person can name a beneficiary of the account to receive the funds in case of death. A married person may want to choose their spouse, who will be able to roll over the IRA into their own account without a tax penalty.

Debt can cause stress in a marriage

Couples in Wisconsin and throughout the country who went into debt to pay for a wedding are more likely to get divorced. This is according to a survey from LendingTree that included 506 people between the ages of 18 and 53 who were married in the past two years. It found that 45% of married couples went into debt to pay for their wedding. Of those who took out loans to pay for wedding expenses, 47% thought about getting divorced because of financial issues.

Of those who didn't have wedding debt, only 9% thought about ending their marriages because of financial issues. Those who went into debt to finance were more likely to argue with their spouses about money compared to those who did not. Roughly a quarter of those who took part in the survey said that they had regrets about how much they spent to get married. Those regrets typically revolved around how much they paid for the venue.

Remarrying couples may wish to consider prenups

When people in Wisconsin decide to marry again after divorce, they may feel as if they have learned many lessons from their previous experiences. Indeed, 40% of all marriages involve partners who have been married at least once in the past. While these lessons may help people avoid mistakes that were problematic in prior relationships, it may be particularly important to keep close track of issues related to finances. For example, older couples may be concerned about the future of their retirement accounts. According to one study, over 66% of people aged 55 to 64 who were previously married have since remarried.

Later marriages often involve two people with more significant assets, a phenomenon that is particularly true for older couples. In addition, there may be ongoing financial obligations linked to each person's first marriage. Many people who remarry later in life also have children, and people may want to ensure that their kids are protected later on in life. Prenuptial agreements are often considered unromantic, but they can be especially important for people in these circumstances. Not only do they provide a plan in case of divorce, but they also provide a basis for estate planning decisions.

States vary widely in child support formulas

Single parents in Wisconsin may be surprised to learn that child support payments amounts vary significantly by state. According to one study conducted by Custody X Change, an app that helps divorced or separated parents deal with custody arrangements, child support formulas were found to produce widely different results from state to state. The researchers used the same information about family size, parental income and child age for each state and produced sample support amounts that ranged from $400 at the lowest to $1,187 at the highest.

There was some correlation between higher cost of living and higher child support payments. With the exception of Vermont, New England states had some of the highest payments in the country; these states also have a high cost of living. However, states like New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia have a high cost of living but with some of the lowest child support payments. Under federal law, every state can set its own laws about how child support is handled. The custody split between the parents is one major factor in determining support obligations, as are government aid payments and health insurance.

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