When couples divide property in the process of negotiating a divorce settlement, they may find that one or the other has a life insurance policy with no cash value. In cases in which the family law judge has ordered the couple to divide everything equally, it is often difficult to determine the true value of a life insurance policy.
Income is a key consideration in any divorce. Under Wisconsin law, both spouses' incomes are factored into determining how much spousal maintenance or child support one spouse may be required to pay as it is a community property state wherein assets are divided equally. Substantial changes in income may warrant a post-divorce modification in alimony or child support. Given the key role income plays in family law considerations, it is important that anyone going through divorce has a good handle on what his or her spouse earns.In most cases, a spouse's income may be ascertained and easily determined by looking at W-2s and pay stubs. Determining income becomes trickier if the spouse is self-employed. When a spouse runs a home cleaning or maintenance business, a lawn service company, or even a bar or restaurant, much of the income will come in the form of cash, which is easily hidden and can be used to purchase a new luxury vehicle, a golf-course condo and other high-end items that significantly increase one's net worth without ever making its way onto an income statement.
The Wisconsin domestic partnership law has survived a constitutional challenge, at least for now. The law, passed in 2009, allows same-sex couples who share the same residence to register as domestic partners. Shortly after the law took effect, Family Action Wisconsin filed a lawsuit seeking to have domestic partnerships declared unconstitutional. The group argued the law violated a 2006 Wisconsin constitutional amendment that declares marriage in the state to be between one man and one woman. The amendment denies state recognition of any legal status that purports to confer rights and benefits substantially similar to marriage. Defendants in the lawsuit, who include a former Wisconsin governor, argued the domestic partnership law did not grant substantially similar rights. They pointed to 33 specific differences between domestic partnerships and marriage, including differences in how domestic partnerships are treated under existing family law. For example, the law makes no provision for property division when a same-sex partnership ends. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed with the defendants. The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal to the state's Supreme Court.
Society's view of the "traditional" family -- that is, father, mother, children -- is of course a hot topic these days in family law, especially in wake of more and more states legalizing same-sex marriages. But another type of nontraditional family is often overlooked: the so-called grand family.
A Wisconsin court recently decided that the ex-wife of a former Milwaukee fireman is entitled to 40 percent of his retirement pension beginning in 2001. The couple divorced after 24 years of marriage back in 1993. During that time, they worked with family law attorneys to draft a marriage settlement agreement. The agreement determined that the ex-wife would receive 40 percent of her former husband's pension that he would begin to receive in 2001 when he turned 57.Instead of receiving his pension in 2001 as planned, the fireman decided to join litigation concerning the duty disability benefits he had been receiving since 1985. The results of the litigation determined that the fireman would receive nontaxable disability benefits for life instead of the pension. He did not inform his ex-wife that he decided to take the disability option instead of the pension. When his wife learned through a family friend of this decision in 2009, she assumed that he had done this hoping that she would receive not receive any spousal support because of his decision.
Many of the decisions and protocol parents need to follow regarding their children are addressed in the divorce decree and child custody/support orders. But there are certainly some events that no one can prepare for. Anger, bitterness, pride and different belief systems often get in the way of sound decisions when divorced parents have arguments about what is best for their children.
The IRS has some very interesting rules when it comes to reporting the income and assets of divorcing couples. To make it even more complicated, those rules are different in community property states like Wisconsin.