– from Carlos Y. in Sussex, WI

Question Details:

My wife and I divorced several years ago. She was awarded custody of our child and I was ordered to pay support. I fell behind for several years, and she started receiving AFDC. Since she got a high paying job, she stopped receiving that assistance. Can she still seek representation from a district attorney even though she can afford a lawyer? I feel that her being represented by a DA puts me at a disadvantage.

Family Law Attorney Response:

In all fairness, whether she is represented by a private attorney or the DA, the evidence presented in a child support case wouldn't really be affected. However, whether you are represented by an experienced family law attorney or not may make all the difference in the world.

As for your question, in the case of State v. Wagner 136 Wis. 2d 1, 400 N.W.2d 519 (Ct. App. 1986), a woman also sought representation from the District Attorney's office. The trial court concluded that, unless she was receiving benefits or lacked the finances to obtain a private attorney, a district attorney was not authorized to represent her. She appealed. The court of appeals reversed based on statute sections 46.25(6) and (7) and 59.47(14), which states that regardless of welfare status or ability to obtain private counsel, a custodial parent may request the representation of a District Attorney to enforce a support order.

My advice is to seek the representation of an experienced family law attorney yourself right away.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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