Kowalski Family Law

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Certain aspects of a servicemember’s pay may be taxable or tax-exempt. These distinctions must be considered when accurately establishing the servicemember’s net income for support purposes. Tax-exempt income includes the following: earnings received while the servicemember is in a combat zone. This exemption is on a month-to-month basis. If the member is in a combat zone for at least one day of the month, all income that month is tax-exempt. Bonuses, special pay, and re-enlistment…
In addition to satisfying residency requirements for the spouses in a military divorce, the Wisconsin divorce court must also have jurisdiction over the children. Wisconsin is one of 49 states that adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This law establishes the proper state to handle issues of child custody and placement. The UCCJEA requires that the “child custody determination” (including divorce and paternity cases) occurs in the child’s “home state.” The…
Wisconsin, as most states, recognizes a distinction between “residence” and “domicile.” It is important to know this distinction to ensure that Wisconsin is the correct jurisdiction to file a military divorce. “Residence” and “domicile” may be the same place, but not always. “Residence” usually means the place where a party lives at a specific time. Thus, to file a divorce in Wisconsin, a party must be a resident of Wisconsin for 6 months prior to…
Given the nomadic existence of some military families, it is not always easy to choose the right state to file for divorce. If the husband entered the military in Wisconsin, the marriage occurred in Texas, the children were born in California, the husband deployed to Iraq, and the mother and children moved back to Wisconsin, where is the proper jurisdiction for divorce? Such a scenario is common due to servicemembers’ orders. I will devote several…
This is the last installment of our blog specifically focusing on the SCRA and its effect on Wisconsin military divorces. Previous blogs in this series addressed the relief available for servicemembers and their spouses when a divorce or child custody act is pending. Following are miscellaneous sections of the Act that be relevant in a family matter, with short explanations: The servicemember can request an interest rate reduction to 6% on loans incurred prior to…
I have often spoken and written about the vital importance of military spouses and their divorce lawyers ensuring that divorce judgments dividing military retired pay are properly and completely executed. The recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals case of Schwab v. Schwab 20 Ct App 40 is yet another example of the serious consequences when this is not done. A couple divorced in 1992, and the non-military wife was awarded a portion of the servicemember husband’s…
The first two blogs in this series addressed a request for a stay in a divorce, and a potential default judgment. This blog #3 will discuss how the civilian spouse can oppose a request for stay. A stay (or pause) in the case may cause serious problems for the spouse. Lack of child or spousal support, failure to pay debts, and disputes over child-related decisions could be unresolved for quite some time. Therefore, the spouse…
Previous blogs addressed the SCRA’s protections for the servicemember in a Wisconsin divorce or family court case. This blog will discuss ways for the non-military spouse to oppose a request to delay the case. Although the SCRA is designed to protect the member, it cannot be a license to delay a case indefinitely. The spouse also has a right to at least a reasonably timely resolution. Recall that in order to receive the stay, the…
Blog #1 in this serious addressed the background of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)  and the servicemember’s ability to request a stay, or pause, in a divorce or family law case. Blog #2 will discuss the possibility of a default judgment against the servicemember if he/she does not participate in the case at all. The available stay under the SCRA does not last forever. If the member does not participate, the spouse can obtain…
Blog #1 in this serious addressed the background of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)  and the servicemember’s ability to request a stay, or pause, in a divorce or family law case. Blog #2 will discuss the possibility of a default judgment against the servicemember if he/she does not participate in the case at all. The available stay under the SCRA does not last forever. If the member does not participate, the spouse can obtain…