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Family Law FAQs | DeWitt LLP Law Firm

Do I need an attorney in a family law case?

Having legal representation is not mandatory, but it is often helpful and advisable, especially in matters involving your family, children, and businesses. Our experienced attorneys provide invaluable guidance and advocate for your best interests during the legal process, applying their decades of experience to help secure the best outcome available. We will also advise you if we believe your legal issue can be handled effectively without need for additional legal representation.

Can my spouse and I jointly hire an attorney?

No, attorneys are not permitted to represent both parties in any case, including family law matters, with the exception of adoptions, surrogacy and similar legal services. However, both parties in a divorce, paternity or similar action have the option to jointly hire one of our experienced attorneys to act as a mediator or arbitrator to help facilitate resolution in their family law case. Alternatively, one party may choose to seek legal representation while the other does not. In such cases, we recommend that the unrepresented party seek legal counsel to review any final agreements.

What is Mediation and Arbitration?

Mediation and arbitration are alternative dispute resolution methods that can help parties reach a resolution without going to court. Mediation involves a neutral third party, the mediator, who helps facilitate negotiations and promote agreement between the parties. If the parties come to full agreement on issues, the attorney mediator can draft the legal documents necessary to complete your agreements and finalize the legal action. If you are not able to reach agreement in mediation, the mediator has no further responsibility for the matter.  Arbitration, on the other hand, involves hiring a neutral third party attorney who will make a legally binding decision if the parties cannot reach a resolution through mediation. Often this process is referred to as “Med/Arb,” as the neutral first works to mediate the case, but when the parties have reached impasse, the process switches to arbitration.

Our attorneys are skilled in both mediation and arbitration and can guide you through the process to help you determine which process may be best for your circumstance.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a process in which the parties and their attorneys agree to resolve all issues related to their divorce outside of court. Attorneys are required to withdraw from the case if agreements cannot be reached. This process often involves the use of jointly hired professionals, such as financial advisors or child specialists, to assist in resolving disputes. While Collaborative Divorce can be a beneficial approach in some cases, it may not be suitable for all situations, particularly those involving abuse or significant financial power imbalances. Our attorneys will assess the circumstances for your situation and provide guidance on whether Collaborative Law is appropriate for your case.

What is Cooperative Divorce?

The Cooperative divorce process includes a commitment by the attorneys to work to resolve matters with the specific goal to minimize expensive, duplicative legal tools.  For example, the parties would typically engage a joint home appraiser rather than paying for two, or will hire a joint accounting expert to address complex financial matters rather than paying for two or more. The difference between this process and the Collaborative process is that if the parties are ultimately unable to reach agreement on all issues in your divorce, the attorneys can continue to represent you in court for any unresolved issues.

What is the difference between Legal Separation and Divorce?

Legal separation and divorce have similar procedures and address similar issues, such as property division, support, and children. Some individuals choose legal separation for religious reasons or to maintain family health insurance coverage. However, there are additional benefits and drawbacks to each, and our attorneys can discuss these in detail during your initial consultation.

I don't live near your offices. Should I still hire an attorney from DeWitt?

Our attorneys practice state-wide, and we have strong referral networks throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, and neighboring states. If we consult with you and believe your matter is better resolved through a more local attorney, we will attempt to find you an experienced referral sources closer to your home.  At times we may recommend that we represent you despite any geographic distance because of our unique experience and skills that may not be replicated in all areas of the state (e.g., cases with complex business or financial matters, adoption or surrogacy matters). We have fully-remote capabilities for consultations, meetings, and even certain court hearings to help minimize any additional costs for travel.  

Do you handle appeals?

Yes, we have substantial experience representing clients in appeals to the court of appeals and the Wisconsin Supreme Court. If you believe a judge made a bad decision or error in your case, it is crucial to act swiftly appeals have strict mandatory timelines. Contact us as soon as possible for a case evaluation and to discuss the possibility of filing an appeal.

How much will this cost?

The cost of a legal action will vary depending on the complexity of the case and the actions of the opposing party. During your consultation, our attorneys will assess your situation and provide the best estimate of potential costs. We employ cost-saving measures, such as utilizing paralegals for certain services at lower rates than attorneys. We also do not charge for office supplies, stamps, or long-distance phone calls. Our reputation as tough litigators and reasonable negotiators often leads to negotiated resolutions, which can also help minimize costs.


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To assist you with your specific questions please contact one of our family law attorneys or email us at  


Image Of Michele L. Perreault

Michele L. Perreault

Attorney| Madison Office Managing Partner | Executive Committee Member | Divorce & Family Law Group Chair Learn More

Divorce & Family Law Attorneys and StaffView the Team

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