Waukesha County

Waukesha County Family Court Division

Local Court Rules

Adopted: September 24, 1996
Effective: November 1, 1996
Last Revision: June 7, 2018

Rule 1: Filing, Assignment, & Scheduling

1.1 Filing

All actions affecting the family as defined in Chapter 767, Wis. Stats., should be filed in the family division office of the Clerk of Courts. Original pleadings must be accompanied by the payment of the appropriate statutory fee. Proof of service of pleadings, with the attached authenticated pleading, must be filed with the family division office within the statutory time limit.

1.2 Case Assignment

All family cases will be assigned to a family division judge using a primarily random system approved by the chief judge of the Third Judicial Administrative District. The Clerk of Courts will promptly identify the assigned judge on the pleading.

1.3 Approval of Indigence Applications

Family division judges or court commissioners will consider and appropriately act upon any affidavit of indigence as provided in sec. 814.29, Wis. Stats., for any matter filed in the family division.

1.4 Adjournments

Any request for an adjournment shall be made in writing, unless in a last minute emergency, and shall specify the reason for such request. Such request, as with any filing, should conspicuously demonstrate that all other parties have been copied. The requestor should attempt to confer with all other parties before the request is made to the court. Once a matter is scheduled for any court appearance, an adjournment will be granted only with the permission of the assigned judge or court commissioner.

1.5 Scheduling of Pre-Trial Conferences and Trials

If the action is for divorce, legal separation, or annulment; a pretrial conference will be scheduled for shortly more than 120 days after filing proof of service upon the respondent, or filing of the action for a joint petition. A standard pretrial conference order shall be used. (In accordance with state statute, a financial declaration will have been filed by each party well before the pretrial conference.)

Contested divorce trials will be scheduled only upon completion of a pretrial conference with the assigned family division judge.

1.6 Facsimile Transmission of Documents to the Court

(1) Any such document may not exceed fifteen (15) pages in length, excluding cover sheet. A charge of $3.00 per page above the limit will be assessed unless prior waiver of the limit is obtained from the court

(2) Any applicable filing fee must be paid in advance or simultaneously.

(3) If the forgoing rules are not complied with, the Clerk need not accept or file such transmission.

(4) The party transmitting the facsimile document is solely responsible for ensuring its timely and complete receipt. The Circuit Court Judge or Clerk is not responsible for errors or failures in transmission that result in missing or illegible documents nor periods when a Clerk of Courts facsimile machine is not operational for any reason.

(5) If correspondence or a document is transmitted by facsimile machine, original documents are not to be mailed to the Clerk of Courts office for filing. Original documents are to be maintained by the signing party or his/her attorney. A cost assessment for pages filed in violation of this rule will be $3.00 per page. Originals filed will be returned or destroyed.

(6) The Clerk of Courts facsimile machine will be operational only during regular county business hours.

Rule 2: Motion Hearings

2.1 Subject Matter Identification

All motions and Orders to Show Cause shall contain on the first available page a statement identifying the relief sought.

2.2 Pre-Judgment Matters

A pre-judgment motion or order to show cause seeking temporary orders on matters which include, without limitation, legal custody, physical placement of children, vacation of premises, support, maintenance, attorney fees, payment of debt, and possession of real and personal property, will ordinarily be scheduled before a court commissioner. Orders to show cause must be approved by a judge or court commissioner.

2.3 Post-Judgment Matters

A post-judgment motion or order to show cause shall be scheduled for a hearing after payment of the appropriate statutory fee. Post-judgment matters will be handled by the family division judge who is assigned to the case file, provided he/she is still assigned to the family division. When a family division judge is not then assigned to a family division caseload, the post-judgment matter shall be heard by the judge who is currently assigned to that case. Any post-judgment matter may be assigned based upon calendar availability to a court commissioner, except all motions for modification of legal custody and/or physical placement must be scheduled before the judge.

2.4 De Novo Review of Court Commissioner Decisions

A party who was present at a hearing, either in person or by counsel, held by a court commissioner has the right to have a new hearing before the assigned judge upon filing of a motion for de novo review. A motion for a de novo hearing must be filed within fifteen (15) calendar days of the oral decision of the court commissioner, or within fifteen (15) calendar days of the mailing of a written decision or order by the court commissioner if the decision or order was not given orally by the court commissioner at the time of the hearing. Findings and orders entered by a court commissioner upon stipulation or default are not subject to de novo review. Fifteen (15) calendar days are counted consecutively and include weekends and holidays pursuant to Wis. Stat. 801.15(1).

2.5 Financial Disclosure Statements

A motion or order to show cause seeking to establish or modify child support, family support and/or maintenance shall contain language requiring both parties to submit to the court at the scheduled hearing a completed financial disclosure statement and verification of income for three (3) months prior to the hearing date. Failure
to comply may result in dismissal of the matter, continuance and/or assessment of costs.

2.6 Stipulated Temporary Orders

A stipulated temporary order which provides for child support, family support and/or maintenance shall contain the following information: the current addresses of both parties, the names and addresses of the parties' employers, the names, and birth dates of any minor children, and the language required by sec. 767.263, 767.29(1) and 814.61(12)(b), Wis Stats. The social security numbers of the parties and affected children must be on file in a confidential addendum, or otherwise provided.

2.7 Discovery

The applicable rule of the Civil Division is incorporated herein by reference.

Rule 3: Income Assignments

3.1 Information for and Issuance of Income Assignment

An order establishing or modifying child support, family support or maintenance payments should be accompanied by the current name and address of the payor’s employer together with any other information needed for an income assignment. An income assignment will issue, unless a specific court order directs otherwise.

3.2 Vacation or Maintenance of Income Assignment after 18th Birthday of Child

(1) Any income assignment for current child support shall terminate on the last or only child's 18th birthday.

(2) If the child is still pursuing a high school education at the time of his or her 18th birthday, the child support agency must be provided with a currently dated and actually signed letter from the child's school, on school letterhead, that states that the child is enrolled and attending classes and the date of expected graduation. This letter must be provided to the child support office before the child's 18th birthday. A copy of the letter must be provided to any other party under the local five-day rule. Upon receipt of this letter and proof that a copy was provided to the other party, the income assignment for child support will be continued through the anticipated date of graduation, or to age 19, whichever occurs first.

(3) If the letter described in (2) above is received after the child's 18th birthday, the income assignment will be terminated unless a stipulation is filed or a court order obtained upon proper motion to the court.

(4) If there exists an arrearage of unpaid child support at the time an income assignment would otherwise be terminated as described above, then such assignment will continue until the arrearage is paid.

Rule 4: Arrearages

4.1 Arrearage in Judgment of Divorce

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, an arrearage from a child support, family support, and/or maintenance order which was entered prior to the granting of the judgment of divorce, is carried forward and should be indicated as an arrearage in the judgment of divorce.

Rule 5: Findings of Fact Conclusions of Law, and Judgment

5.1 Final Papers

The findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment of divorce, legal separation, or annulment must be drafted by the petitioner or petitioner's attorney and shall be submitted to the court and filed with the family clerk of court within thirty (30) days after judgment is granted. If the respondent is represented by an attorney, the findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment of divorce shall be submitted to the respondent's attorney for approval. If the respondent is not represented by an attorney, the petitioner must submit the findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment of divorce to the respondent for approval by counter signature or under the five day rule.

Final marital settlement agreements shall be appended to the judgment of divorce and shall be incorporated by reference therein. An original and three (3) copies of the findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment of divorce shall be submitted. The submitting party shall also include self addressed stamped envelopes so that a conformed copy of the findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment of divorce can be returned to the parties and their respective attorneys.

5.2 Untimely Filing

If the findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment of divorce, legal separation, or annulment are not filed within thirty (30) days after the judgment is granted, the family clerk of courts office shall calendar and notice a hearing to dismiss the case due to such failure.

Rule 6: Family Court Counseling Services

6.1 Referral

The Waukesha County Family Court Service agency (FCS) provides mediation and study services to help resolve legal custody and/or physical placement disputes in actions affecting the family. Parties may be referred to FCCS by order of the court.

6.2 Mediation

Upon receipt of an order from the court, an appointment will be scheduled with the parties for mediation. During an initial session the parties will meet with the mediator to define legal custody and/or physical placement issues which require resolution. The mediator will offer options for the parties' consideration in an effort to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. In lieu of an agreement, the parties and the mediator will make a decision whether to continue mediation or refer the matter back to the Court.

If an agreement is reached in mediation, each party will receive a copy of the agreement. The parties' attorneys and the guardian ad litem, if one is appointed, shall also receive a copy of the agreement. The court will be sent the agreement once both signed by the parties and any attorneys. If mediation is unsuccessful, a letter which sets forth the status of the case shall be sent to the court, the parties' attorneys and the guardian ad litem. The court may then order the parties to cooperate in a study which addresses legal custody and/or physical placement issues in dispute.

6.3 Fees

Fees for mediation and study involving legal custody and/or physical placement are established by statute and County Board Ordinance. The current amounts will be available on the court’s website or by calling the clerk’s office.

Fees must be paid before services are provided, unless fees are waived by the court. Payment plans may be offered by the court.

Rule 7: Guardian Ad Litem

7.1 Attorney List

Each family court division judge maintains a list of attorneys who are willing and qualified to accept guardian ad litem (GAL) appointments from the court.

(Any attorney who wishes to be included on this list may submit a written request with verification of attendance at an approved GAL training seminar, or a resume of guardian ad litem experience, as well as a statement of malpractice insurance coverage.)

Each family court division judge makes his/her own GAL appointments and individually reviews requests for compensation sought by a GAL.

7.2 Guardian Ad Litem Appointment

Any party may petition, in writing or on the record, to the assigned judge for appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem. Such request will be decided by the judge.

The parties will ordinarily be required to deposit a sum of money with the Waukesha County clerk of courts business office, which sum shall be held in trust by the clerk of courts office as security towards payment for the GAL. The usual amount of deposit rate is available on the court’s website or by calling the clerk’s office. As payments are approved for disbursement to the GAL by the judge, additional deposits may be required.

The judge will determine which party deposits what amounts and may allow payment plans. (Payment plans may be negotiated with and administered by the clerk of courts business office.)

At the conclusion of the proceeding, the court will order liability of the parties for payment of any balance owed on the GAL fees. Unless the court orders otherwise, each party is responsible for 50% of the total gross fees due to the GAL.

7.3 Compensation

GAL’s shall be compensated at the hourly rate set by the judge in the order of appointment, or any amendment thereto. If the ordered parties do not pay such fees as required, the judge may order the county to pay the fees and seek reimbursement from the responsible party. In this event, the county will only pay at the established base rate, which rate is available on the court’s website or by calling the clerk’s office. Any liability in excess of the base rate remains due to the GAL, who may pursue collection by order to show cause or by requesting money judgment be entered.

7.4 Guardian Ad Litem Procedure-Fees

The Guardian ad Litem shall send monthly billing statements to the parties. When the GAL’s bill exceeds the deposit amount, the GAL must send a letter to the court with an Affidavit setting forth the fees and a proposed order.

The order will authorize the transfer of any funds in county trust to the GAL. It will also order the parties to pay an additional deposit to the county in amounts determined by the judge. This procedure is to be followed with every $1,000 increment in billing.

The court determines the ultimate apportionment of responsibility for the GAL fees. The county will return any unearned funds left in trust to the parties after the final billing statement has been paid.

7.5 Termination of Duties

The duties and appointment of a GAL shall terminate upon completion of the proceedings; or upon the minor child reaching the age of majority unless the family court division judge orders otherwise.

Rule 8: Appraisals

8.1 Court Appointed Appraisers

In order to efficiently and fairly process cases, the court may appoint appraisers for assets, such as real estate, physical personal property, or defined benefit pension rights.

8.2 Fees

Fees for a court appointed appraiser shall be borne equally by the parties unless the court orders otherwise.

8.3 Use of Reports and Calling as Witnesses

The report of a court appointed appraiser will be received into evidence at trial without the necessity of calling the appraiser to testify. Any party may, however, call the court appointed appraiser to testify at that party’s own expense. If calling the appraiser at trial, the party must give written notice to the other party(s) at least thirty (30) days prior to trial.

8.4 Separate Appraisals

A party may object to the report of the court appointed appraiser and hire their own appraiser, provided written objection and notice is given to the court and the opposing party within fifteen (15) days after receipt of the court appointed appraiser's report. The report of any such appraiser shall be furnished to the other party(s) at least thirty (30) days prior to the commencement of the trial.

Rule 9: Submission of Orders and Judgments

9.1 Five (5) Day Rule

In the event a judge or court commissioner has rendered an oral ruling which must be reduced to writing, the party drafting such order or judgment shall, unless prior approval as to form is obtained in writing, submit the proposed draft to all parties at the time of or before submission to the court. If such submission clearly reflects submission to all parties and reference to this "five (5) day rule," then any objection to the form of such draft by any party must be received by the judge or court commissioner within five (5) days of receipt of the court of the draft and must include a proposed order to their satisfaction. If the draft is submitted to the judge or court commissioner by mail, then the objection of any party must be received within eight (8) days of mailing. If the final day of a five (5) day period is a holiday or weekend, then the time will be extended through the next business day. Upon expiration of the five (5) day period, the judge or court commissioner may sign the order or judgment as submitted, alter it as he or she deems appropriate, or, schedule the matter for further proceedings.