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Gay, Lesbian & Non-Traditional Family Law Attorneys in Madison & Milwaukee

Negotiating, Mediating, and Litigating on Behalf of Same-Sex and Other Non-Traditional Wisconsin Families

Wisconsin’s definition of “family” has changed dramatically in the recent past. As of October of 2014, Wisconsin gay and lesbian couples can now marry and enjoy the benefits and obligations of marriage. However, many relationships that do not involve marriage will continue to break up and need legal help to reach resolution.

Family Law for Relationships Outside Marriage

Navigating through the legal process for same-sex couples and non-traditional families where there has not been a marriage can be tricky. Hawks Quindel lawyers have significant experience negotiating, mediating and litigating on behalf of non-traditional families which have not resulted in marriages. Among our areas of representation, we:

  • Negotiate parenting and domestic partnership agreements
  • Draft property agreements between domestic partners
  • Assist in guardianships
  • Seek visitation rights for parents who have not yet gained the rights of custody and placement of their children through changes in the law
  • Assist in property division settlements when domestic partnerships dissolve
  • Assist in drafting powers of attorney for finances and healthcare

As trained mediators, we also assist couples who are separating in resolving their matters outside of court.

Establishing Parental Rights for Same-Sex Couples

Because marriage is now permitted for same-sex couples, gay and lesbian families can now undertake stepparent adoptions where one of the parents already has legal parental rights of the child through adoption or birth and the other parent is seeking legal recognition of those same rights. For married lesbian couples who want to have the state recognize the parental rights of both the biological mother and the non-biological mother, determination of parentages actions may be available in certain counties. Attorneys at Hawks Quindel, S.C. represent parents in these stepparent adoptions and determinations of parentage actions.

Same-Sex Marriage Recognition Across State Boundaries

Other legal questions regarding same-sex relationships and the existing Wisconsin family law framework remain unresolved. For example, was there a marriage in another state previously unrecognized in Wisconsin before the couple moved or returned here? What if the couple moves to a state that does not recognize the Wisconsin marriage? A case evaluation with a lawyer with Hawks Quindel, S.C. can guide you through the decisions that must be made regarding your relationship to each other and your children.

Same-Sex Divorce

For members of the LGBT community that do marry and find themselves needing the assistance of a lawyer for a divorce, there are also special circumstances which must be taken into consideration where the law has not been developed through prior appellate court cases. For instance, for purposes of spousal support, will the courts consider a relationship to constitute a “long-term marriage” if the marriage was relatively short but the relationship itself was long when the couple did not have the right to marry for much of the relationship? When the couple was together a significant period of time prior to the wedding, what would be considered property brought to the marriage and what would be considered property accumulated during the marriage? Will the law on child support be changed given the legality of the relationship between the parties if a subsequent action to make the parent-child relationship legal did not occur? If a couple had the right to marry in another state but waited until the marriage laws changed in Wisconsin, would their relationship be treated differently than one where the couple left the state to legalize their relationship in terms of length of marriage?

Many questions remain. The family law attorneys at Hawks Quindel, S.C. can guide and advocate for you regarding these issues in the dissolution of your relationship.

If you wish to discuss your specific circumstances with one of our family lawyers, please contact Milwaukee family attorneys Katherine Charlton or Amy Shapiro at 414-271-8650, or Madison family attorney Lynn Lodahl at 608-257-0040. If you prefer email, please use our website form to set up a case evaluation.