Wisconsin Family Law FAQ

Milwaukee Family Law Attorney answer questions for you and your family..In Attorney James Donohoo’s decades of experience, a number of questions have a habit of popping up. Review the answers below for self-educational purposes only (these answers don’t count as legal advice!). The best answer to a legal question almost always begins with “it depends.” For a more nuanced and qualified answer, please make use of the online contact form.


Wisconsin Family Law Attorney Answering Your Questions

Personal Milwaukee divorce lawyer representation depends on excellent communication. Simply possessing a broad and deep knowledge of Wisconsin family law is not enough. This understanding must be applied to the unique circumstances of your case. These most relevant circumstances must be drawn out from you, fully understood and acted upon in your interest.

Milwaukee Criminal Defense Lawyer

 When your reputation and rights are threatened by the accusation of a crime, an experienced criminal lawyer can help you navigate the murky waters of Wisconsin criminal law. Whether you or your juvenile child face charges for OWI, traffic violations, disorderly conduct,  or drug crimes, Attorney James Donohoo will bring a highly personal approach to legal representation to beating or reducing your charge.

Attorney Donohoo is your choice for Wisconsin Family Lawyer representation in St. Francis, Brown Deer, Glendale, Whitefish Bay, Shorewood, Greendale, Cudahy, Oak Creek, Franklin, Greenfield, Waukesha, Wauwatosa, West Allis and other locales in the Greater Milwaukee Area including Racine and Kenosha. Email and telephone services offered for remote services.

If your question is not covered below please use the Milwaukee divorce lawyer contact form to ask a question or receive a free case evaluation.

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Q: How is child custody determined by the court?


Jim Donohoo is Milwaukee's Child Placement and Child Custody Attorney 

Wisconsin law, as expressed in Statute 767.41 (5), requires that the court consider the following factors in determining legal custody and physical placement of children:

The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as shown by any stipulation between the parties, any proposed parenting plan or any legal custody or physical placement proposal submitted to the court at trial.

The wishes of the child, which may be communicated by the child or through the child's guardian ad litem or other appropriate professional.

The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, siblings, and other persons who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.

The amount and quality of time a parent has spent with the child, any necessary changes to the parents’ custodial roles, and lifestyle changes the parent proposes to make to be able to spend time with the child in the future.

The child’s adjustment to home, school, religion, and community.  The child’s age and the child’s developmental or educational needs at different ages.

The mental and physical health of the parties, the minor children, and others living in the proposed custodial household.  The need for regular periods of physical placement to provide for predictability and stability.

The availability of public or private child care.

The cooperation and communication between the parties and whether any party unreasonably refuses to cooperate or communicate.

Whether each party can support the other party’s relationship with the child, including encouraging frequent contact, and whether it is likely there will be interference with the child’s relationship with the other party.  Whether there is evidence that a party has engaged in child abuse.

Whether there is evidence that a party has engaged in interspousal battery or domestic abuse.  

Whether either party has a past or current problem with drugs or alcohol.

The reports of appropriate professionals, if admitted into evidence.

Such other factors as the court may determine to be relevant. 


Q: How long will my divorce take?


James Donohoo Resolves Divorce Cases per Individual Situation

Divorce cases vary greatly depending on the complexity of the case, contested issues and the availability of the court to hear your case. You should be aware that Wisconsin law requires a 120-day waiting period after the other party is served. From the time of the first court appearance to the final ruling, divorce cases can widely vary in length. 


Q: How do I serve the divorce petition on my spouse?


Wisconsin Divorce Papers Specifics

Wisconsin law requires that the petition for divorce be served on the other party before the petition is filed with the court. You can either have your spouse sign an admission of service, have his/her attorney sign an admission of service, or have a process server present the petition to him/her. The process server may be any adult not related to the action. 


Q: How and where is a divorce petition filed?


How and Where to File for Divorce in Wisconsin

A petition for divorce must be filed with the Clerk of Court’s office in the county where you have been residing for at least 30 days. There is a filing fee, which varies based upon the county in which you file. 


Q: What forms are needed to file for divorce in Wisconsin?


Identifying Necessary Wisconsin Divorce Papers

A divorce begins with the filing of a petition to the court requesting a divorce. If your spouse does not agree to sign the petition, a summons will be needed to notify him/her of the lawsuit. I can assist with filing the petition to divorce and with the summons. (See the question below for more on this.)


Q: Will I be meeting and speaking with you directly, or through an assistant of yours?


Milwaukee Law Attorney Personally Attends to Your Case

Personal matters such as divorce require personal attention. I will be your point of contact throughout your divorce proceeding, child custody litigation, or any other matter you entrust to me. I will also attend all court appearances with you and pledge to always stand up for your rights.


Q: Do you recommend mediation?


Divorce Mediation for Milwaukee Clients

I always advise clients to try to resolve their differences through mediation first. Besides speeding up the entire process tremendously, it can save you both money on legal fees. It is important, however, to be prepared for mediation. This is something I can assist you with.


Q: Do you primarily represent men or women?


A Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer for Men and Women 

Both. I have represented equal numbers of men and women in divorce and custody matters and have no bias towards either. 


Q: Where are Wisconsin Family Law Attorney, James Donohoo’s Service Areas?


Milwaukee Family Law Attorney James Donohoo Provides Personal Care Statewide

Milwaukee Family Law Attorney James Donohoo can represent clients in all fields of family law throughout the State of Wisconsin. He has been admitted to the State Bar of Wisconsin and takes cases in all 72 Wisconsin counties, including Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, Kenosha and Racine. If you need an attorney to represent your best interests anywhere in the State of Wisconsin, the Law Offices of James Donohoo can help.

Nationwide Representation

Wisconsin residents facing out of state divorces and child custody issues can turn to Attorney Donohoo for help. Inter-state legal proceedings are not a problem for Attorney Donohoo, he is able to assist non-residents in need of counsel for case venues in Wisconsin. No matter where you live, you can count on the experienced, personal care from the Law Offices of James Donohoo.

Wisconsin Law Office with Global Reach

Overseas clients, including military personnel, can rest assured knowing they will receive personal attention from Wisconsin Family Law Attorney, Donohoo, in their family law case. Military personnel can find themselves getting divorced in the United States while they are serving their country abroad. Even clients halfway around the world can count on the personal involvement of Attorney Donohoo with their legal needs.

Contact the Wisconsin Family Law Attorney helping clients receive the best possible outcomes in divorce, child custody, and other family law disputes.


Q: What’s the difference between child primary physical placement and child custody in Wisconsin?


When most people ask about Wisconsin child custody attorney services what they are usually asking about is “primary physical placement”. 

In the vast majority of Wisconsin divorces, judges grant “joint legal custody”, meaning each parent has rights and responsibilities to the child. Primary physical placement is an element of custody determining who lives with the child and controls most of the minor daily decisions regarding the child.  
Thus, the everyday language use of “getting custody of the kids” usually means “being awarded primary physical placement of the kids.” The concepts are related and have serious implications on things like school choice and child support.



Serving Southeastern Wisconsin Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha and Walworth counties Servicing all of SE Wisconsin including: Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine, West Allis, Wauwatosa, Waukesha, Brookfield, Greenfield, Franklin, Oak Creek, Cudahy, Greendale, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Glendale, Brown Deer, St. Francis and more.