Family Law Update for February 2020

In this Issue …

A Word from Gregg Herman
Herman Mediation Services debuts new web site.

Wisconsin Courts Updates
Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity case.

Thoughts on Family Law Video
Review of “A Marriage Story” now playing on NetFlix

Mediation and Settlement Online
Pensions, Divorce in 2020 and a Mediator’s “Touchdown”.

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A Word from Gregg Herman …

New Focus Reminder & Herman Mediation Services

As I explained last month, FLU is being “re-purposed” to concentrate on mediation and settlement, which, after all, is what most family lawyers do in today’s world.

For our loyal FLU subscribers, I will continue to provide information on the latest Wisconsin cases and legislation. I’ll also be continuing my monthly video message, which will be synched with my column in the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Consistent FLU’s new focus, I’m also proud to announce the launch of Herman Mediation Services, a subsidiary to Loeb & Herman, S.C. focused on offering couples an affordable path to divorce through mediation.

Please visit the site, and feel free to pass on your comments to me via e-mail.

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Wisconsin Courts Update

Editor’s Note: The following case is not recommended for publication, but may be cited for its persuasive value under Wis. Stat. 809.23(3).

On January 7, 2020, the District I Court of Appeals issued their opinion in State v. Cross, No. 2018AP1645, which reversed and remanded the order rendered by the Honorable Paul
Van Grunsven (Milwaukee County).

Shaffle signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VPA) shortly after the child’s birth. The VPA was filed with the State Registar. After the state file an action for child support, Shaffle informed the court that a private genetic test excluded him as the father and that he had signed the VPA to get insurance coverage for the child. Another candidate for paternity refused to cooperate with DNA testing.

After a series of court proceedings, which did not include an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court denied the request to void the VPA, finding that Shaffale was the “best and only father” for the child.

The court of appeals reversed. A determination of paternity can be voided under Wis. Stat. §767.805((5)(a) if facts show fraud, duress or a mistake of fact. In this case, Shaffale was never given notice of an evidentiary hearing, was not asked any questions which could have proved fraud or a mistake of fact and the mother was never called as a witness. For that matter, Shaffale was never allowed to give his own direct testimony, but only answer questions from the trial court. Therefore the matter was remanded with instructions to the trial court to conduct an evidentiary hearing.

The parties and the trial court were instructed that on remand, they should cite legal authority for applying “best interest when voiding a VPA is at issue”.

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Thoughts on Family Law

Most family law attorneys would agree that feature films dealing with divorce generally fall short in matching the realities they and their clients confront during the divorce process.

“A Marriage Story,” now playing on NetFlix, is a true exception. [ Watch Trailer ]

Be Sure to Like and Subscribe to Loeb & Herman’s YouTube Channel

Mediation & Settlement Online

The following articles are provided as informational resources for our subscribers. If you would like to submit a link for consideration, please contact Atty. Gregg Herman via e-mail.

We Are Going Through Divorce Mediation. Can We Keep Our Separate Pensions?

Q. My husband and I are going through divorce mediation and plan to keep our own respective pensions, not split them. Can we do that? (NJ.com)

Seeking a ‘Healthy Divorce’? Here’s What ‘Marriage Story’ Got Right (and Wrong)

Family law attorneys share their thoughts about embarking on a ‘nicer’ divorce, and where “Marriage Story” rang true — and where it didn’t. (NBCNews)

Splitting Up, But In It Together: Divorce In 2020

Getting a divorce is never easy. But it’s the 21st century – and mediation without court involvement is on the rise. (NPR Audio Story; 35m)

A ‘Mediator’s Touchdown’: Tactfully Concluding Imperfect Conferences

Much has been written on preparing and performing as a mediator, but we must not forget the importance of presenting a respectful conclusion of an imperfect mediation conference. (Mediate.com)

Attorney Gregg Herman is a founding partner of Loeb & Herman S.C. in Milwaukee, WI. He practices family law exclusively, and can be reached via e-mail or by calling (414) 272-5632.