In the traditional approach to settling family law disputes each person hires an attorney to represent him or her. The attorneys provide legal advice to their clients and advocate for their clients in negotiations and before the court. Communication on issues arising in the case, settlement proposals, and counter-proposals go through the attorneys.
The traditional litigation approach may involve the use of what is referred to as formal discovery to get financial and other information. Formal discovery can include the taking of depositions which involves the attorney of one of the parties asking the other party or a witness questions out of court but under oath, providing written answers under oath to written question, or requests that documents be provided for review. Experts, such as appraisers, may be hired by each party to provide an opinion as to the value of assets such as a business, house, or furniture.
In Wisconsin if there are minor children and the parents cannot reach agreement as to all issues concerning custody and/or physical placement, they will be referred for mediation. In general if the issues are not resolved in mediation, the court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem. In Wisconsin, the Guardian ad Litem is an attorney who is to advocate for the best interests of the minor children.
If attempts to resolve the issues amicably through negotiations and /or mediation are not successful, court intervention is sought and a judge decides the disputed issues.