Family Law attorneys have the experience and tenacity to try to obtain the best possible results for you in your divorce. In fact, our attorneys are recognized as among the best in the state in the area of family law. Your divorce can encompass a variety of interrelated issues, including child custody and placement, child support, division of your marital property, protection of your business assets, support payments to you or your spouse, and child support and placement issues, to name a few. We are skilled at taking a holistic approach to these issues and advocating for the best outcome for you. We will attempt to negotiate with opposing parties to obtain a cost-effective result, and are experienced at litigating complex questions in court if necessary.
Child custody, placement and support issues are frequently the most complex questions to resolve in a divorce. Our attorneys are exceptionally qualified to assist you in resolving these questions in a fair manner. We can help you arrive at a custody and placement schedule that is in the best interests for you and your children. We can also help you determine how much child support you or the other parent should be paying.
On occasion, issues related to children involve multiple states or countries, and complex questions of state, federal and international law. We are experienced in the resolution of such multi-jurisdictional disputes. We can also advise you as to the modification of child support and placement orders after your divorce is concluded.
Financial and business matters are often complicated issues during divorce. When a divorce may involve business interests, it is crucial to have attorneys who understand complex issues regarding the proper valuation, division and protection of your business. We have decades of experience with business entities of all sizes. When necessary, we also have the ability to call upon the specialized knowledge of the tax, business and bankruptcy attorneys within our firm.
In all cases, we consider the tax issues involved in any proposed division of the marital estate. These include the tax liability involved in the receipt of certain types of spousal support as well as liability that may result from the award of assets with built in capital gains. In cases involving minor children, we work with you to create a sensible arrangement for the claiming of dependent exemptions and child care tax credits.
Our attorneys are trained in the collaborative approach to family law. This approach is based on an agreement between the parties that the case will be handled through a series of cooperative negotiations, as opposed to a series of contested Court hearings. The process involves open communication between the parties as well as open disclosure of all records relevant to the settlement of the case. The parties to a collaborative case agree from the beginning that if either chooses to litigate any issue of the case, both attorneys must withdraw.
The collaborative approach typically involves the use of other trained professionals, including coaches, financial specialists and child specialists. The role of these experts is to assist the parties in reaching a resolution that meets the needs of the entire family. It is most commonly used in divorce, but it may also be used in other types of family cases, including legal separations, annulments, paternity actions and the dissolution of same-sex relationships. We will be happy to discuss with you whether the collaborative approach is appropriate in your case.
Many clients seek solutions to their issues outside of the courtroom through alternative dispute resolution methods. For example, our attorneys can mediate disputes ranging from single issues such as financial matters up to mediating all terms of a divorce, post-divorce, or domestic partnership issue. Many parties find a mediation process to be the most reasonable, cost-effective way to resolve disputes. Our attorneys can act as the mediator to resolve matters, or can assist clients by representing them through a mediation process. Our attorneys can draft final mediated agreements for presentation to a court, requesting that the court make the mediated agreement the order or final resolution of the matter.
Where appropriate, our attorneys also represent clients in arbitration proceedings. Arbitration is similar to mediation, in that it is an out-of-court process designed to resolve disputes, but unlike mediation, the decision of an arbiter is a final, binding order that can be made over the objection of one of the parties. In essence, arbitration is a cross between mediation and litigation.
Our attorneys will help you determine whether mediation or arbitration is a good fit to resolve your dispute, and then carry out your goals in an effective, efficient manner.
Our attorneys are at the forefront of legal issues affecting non-marital relationships, including gay and lesbian families and other relationships.
Law in this area is always changing and it is important to have attorneys who understand the law and even advocate for changes in the law to help protect individuals and families. We are actively working in the community to maintain and improve protections for all families.
We help intact families create legal protections through documents such as powers of attorney, estate planning, domestic partnership or cohabitation agreements. In the event that a relationship dissolves, we provide legal assistance in negotiating reasonable financial settlements and, when necessary, engage in legal action to protect your interests. Even in a challenging legal environment, there are numerous legal protections available to you.
If you’re thinking about expanding your family through birth, adoption, or surrogacy, we can provide traditional or cutting-edge legal protections depending on your desires and circumstances.
Estate planning for unmarried individuals requires special skill and experience. Our estate planners will work with you to maximize the tax savings and to ensure that your estate goes to the people and organizations that are important to you.
We handle step-parent, independent, and international adoptions. If you are considering an independent or international adoption, we will work with you and an adoption agency from start to finish. Step-parent adoptions are less complex than other adoptions, but clients welcome the assistance of our experienced attorneys who can help ensure that the legal requirements are met.
DeWitt’s Family Law attorneys have been recognized by Madison Magazine as top adoption lawyers in the Madison, Wisconsin area.
If you are a birth parent considering putting your child up for adoption, we will meet with you at no cost to discuss your legal options and, if desired, refer you to an adoption agency to learn more.
We also handle other legal proceedings to help non-traditional families in a complex legal environment. Our attorneys are on the leading edge of legal issues for non-traditional families, and can advise you on various options available to you, including legal guardianships, adoptions, and more.
Clients seeking advice on prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can trust the experience of our family law attorneys. We will assist you in preparing your prenuptial or postnuptial marital property agreement and will work with you to create a tailored agreement that will preserve your property interest and clearly define the terms of property ownership between you and your spouse.
Your marital property agreement may be designed to deal with a wide range of financial issues, including management and control of assets during the marriage, the division of assets and spousal support upon the dissolution of the marriage and the distribution of assets upon the death of either spouse.
Entering into a marital property agreement may be particularly important for individuals who desire to protect personal or family business assets or who desire to ensure that their assets will be preserved for children of a prior marriage. Marital property agreements can also be effective in providing protection against a spouse’s creditors.
Whether you are planning for your own retirement years or caring for an elderly relative, we know that legal issues can be complex and stressful. We work with you to address your situation so that you can be secure in your legal rights and those of your loved ones.
A complete estate plan including wills, powers of attorney and similar documents help to prevent many expensive and stressful legal problems in the future. We are experienced in assisting families through some of the most difficult issues facing elderly individuals, including assisting family members to obtain legal guardianship, protective placements, and matters related to nursing homes.
Mediation is often a reasonable alternative to court room litigation for those involved in a divorce. Court room litigation can become expensive and ultimately the decisions involved with the divorce are left up to the judge. However, choosing mediation allows spouses to determine and negotiate the terms of key issues such as child custody, support, alimony property division and more with the help of an experienced mediator.
At DeWitt Ross & Stevens our Family Law attorneys are experienced with mediation and can help parties explore various approaches to reaching a mutually acceptable outcome. A mediator is not a judge or arbitrator and does not have the authority to make decisions but rather acts as a guide to help the couple to an acceptable divorce agreement by taking each party’s interest into account. All settlement discussions and negotiations that occur during mediation are confidential and the mediator cannot be called as a witness for either party. During mediation divorcing couples can work directly with the mediator or in some circumstances spouses desire their own separate attorneys as well.
Some of the benefits of mediation include:
- Lower financial cost than a traditional court room divorce
- Fosters open communication between the parties
- Saves the parties from the emotional distress involved with an adversarial courtroom battle
- Focuses on problem solving and the best interests of each spouse and children
Mediation-Arbitration is a hybrid that combines the benefits of both techniques. Parties first attempt to jointly negotiate a divorce agreement with the assistance of a mediator. If the mediation ends in impasse, the parties move to arbitration. If the mediator is qualified to arbitrate, he/she can assume the role of arbitrator and issue a binding decision or an arbitrator can take the case over render a binding decision.
Divorce arbitration is a step divorcing couples may pursue when they have reached an impasse in divorce negotiations but are still willing to resolve the issues without going to court. It is a type of trial but one that is heard in private by an Arbitrator, selected by the divorcing couple and their respective attorneys, rather than by a judge in a public courtroom. An arbitration trial differs from a courtroom trial in that it is scheduled at a time convenient for all parties involved, rather than being scheduled subject to the availability and calendar of a judge.
The Family Law attorneys at DeWitt Ross & Stevens are well versed in divorce arbitration. Some of the benefits of Divorce Arbitration include:
- Divorcing couples select the date and time for arbitration
- Divorcing couples selects the Arbitrator and sets forth specific issues to be addressed
- Couples can select the Arbitrator based on relevant experience specific to the issues at hand
- Allows for private hearing in a confidential setting
- Arbitration can help to avoid expenses and emotional distress, and uncertainty associated with a court trial