Whether it’s unmet expectations or different priorities, there are many reasons why a couple might choose to go their separate ways. If that time comes, a divorce lawyer helps protect your interest and navigate the legal process. Our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best divorce lawyers in Milwaukee to help find experienced advocates who can make the breakup easier.
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Divorce rates are declining across the nation, and Wisconsin is following that trend. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2.4 Wisconsin residents out of 1,000 divorce each year, which is below the national average of 3.2 people per 1,000.
With a city with the size of Milwaukee, however, even a low divorce rate means divorce is a common occurrence. The most recent information from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows that around 2,180 divorces occur in Milwaukee County each year.
Getting a divorce in Milwaukee
Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state, and the only basis for divorce in Milwaukee is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. A judge typically grants a divorce as long as one party testifies the marriage meets this standard and there is no likely possibility of reconciliation.
Divorce disputes are more likely to arise when it comes to issues such as alimony, child custody and division of property. Divorces fall into two categories, based on whether the parties agree to divorce settlement terms.
In an uncontested divorce, the divorcing spouses agree on the terms of the divorce. These tend to be the most straightforward types of divorce. While you can file for an uncontested divorce without a lawyer, it’s beneficial to both parties to have an attorney while dealing with child custody, dividing assets or working out alimony.
A contested divorce requires settling the terms of the divorce. If the divorcing parties are amicable and can negotiate in good faith, it may be possible to finalize the divorce using mediation or collaborative divorce. Otherwise, it’s likely the case will go to arbitration or court, where the arbitrator or judge will listen to both sides and decide on any disputed issues.
The cost of divorce lawyers in Milwaukee
Many family law attorneys in Milwaukee bill on an hourly basis. The average hourly rate for divorce lawyers in Wisconsin is between $175 and $250, but some attorneys may charge up to $650 an hour for difficult cases. It’s possible you can pay a flat fee for certain services, such as reviewing documents in an uncontested divorce.
Contested divorces are more expensive because they often involve going to trial. In these cases, attorneys spend more time on the case and have more documents to file with the court. The judge may require the divorcing parties to attempt other forms of resolution before hearing the case, which also adds to the expense. A contested divorce case can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000 or more.
Many attorneys require a retainer — an upfront base payment — to cover filing fees and the attorney’s time for meetings. It’s important to know your chosen lawyer’s hourly rate to better understand if it will exceed the retainer fee.
What to ask a divorce attorney in Milwaukee
It’s important to choose an attorney with expertise in the circumstances of your case. A family attorney has more experience with creating child custody and child support agreements, but a divorce that involves dividing many high-value assets requires a lawyer with extensive financial knowledge.
Many attorneys offer free consultations, which give you an opportunity to ask about fees and see if the lawyer is a fit for your case. It’s helpful to schedule meetings with several attorneys to give you options when choosing the right one to hire.
Here are some helpful questions to ask a potential divorce attorney in the initial consultation:
How do you bill for your services? Some lawyers charge by the hour while others charge a flat-rate. You’ll want to know how and when you will be charged.
How will you communicate with me? Communication is key. You’ll need to know how to contact your lawyer with any additional questions and how quickly they’re likely to respond.
What skills and experience do you have? Depending on the type of divorce, your assets and any child custody issues, you’ll want a divorce attorney who has the experience for your specific needs.
What is your availability, and do you have support staff? While you can’t expect to be your attorney’s only client, you’ll also want an attorney who has enough time for your case and proper support staff to help throughout the process.
Are you comfortable going to trial if needed? While it’s helpful to explore all your options through mediation or other resolution options, you’ll want a lawyer who is willing to go to court to protect your interests if necessary.
Make sure you’re comfortable with the attorney you hire. Even if the lawyer has the qualifications you need, a bad personality fit can lead to a stressful divorce process. Choosing an attorney you have confidence in makes the divorce easier and increases your chances of being happy with the outcome.
Sterling Law Offices, S.C.
Sterling Law Offices, S.C. is an A+ accredited business by the Better Business Bureau serving the Greater Milwaukee area. Sterling’s attorneys make a difficult time easier by setting up quick appointment booking and offering a variety of support options. Milwaukee clients say the firm’s attorneys care about their clients and provide a pleasant experience.
Cordell & Cordell
Cordell & Cordell is a domestic litigation firm specializing in legal supports for men during a divorce or custody battle. Cordell & Cordell has been advocating for fathers’ rights since 1990. The law firm offers an ongoing discount for active-duty military, police officers and firefighters. Reviews from Milwaukee praise the attorneys’ fast work and expertise.
Bandle & Zaeske, LLP
Bandle & Zaeske, LLP is a Milwaukee family law firm with more than fifty years of experience. These two award-winning divorce attorneys have a record of success and practice in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee and Racine counties. Bandle & Zaeske provides free consultations for potential Milwaukee clients.
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