Carlton D. Stansbury

Top rated family law attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Burbach & Stansbury S.C.
Carlton D. Stansbury
Burbach & Stansbury S.C.

Practice Areas: Family law, Alternative dispute resolution, Appellate; view more

Licensed in Wisconsin since: 1990

Education: The University of Iowa College of Law

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2005 - 2022

Burbach & Stansbury S.C.

11270 W. Park Place
Suite 220
Milwaukee, WI 53224 Visit website


Attorney Carlton D. Stansbury is a member of the Burbach & Stansbury S.C. law firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nationally recognized as one of the preeminent attorneys in the country, Mr. Stansbury focuses his practice primarily on family law. He provides exceptional representation and support to clients throughout the greater Milwaukee metro region and surrounding areas who are going through a divorce or have some other serious legal challenge affecting their families.

A highly personable and compassionate attorney, Mr. Stansbury understands that no two clients' situations are the same. He delivers personalized counsel to those he serves to help them make the best-informed decisions about their cases while devising tailored solutions aimed at helping them achieve the favorable outcomes they expect and deserve as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

In recognition for his impeccable professionalism and unwavering commitment to his clients, Mr. Stansbury holds an AV Preeminent peer review rating* from Martindale-Hubbell, and the Judicial Edition.  He has also earned consistent recognition from The Best Lawyers in America** as well as a Top 100 Attorney rating from America's Top 100 Attorneys. Moreover, he has received numerous positive reviews and referrals from his satisfied clients, and U.S. News & World Report voted his practice among the Best Law Firms in Wisconsin for the last ten years.

A 1987 cum laude graduate of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Mr. Stansbury obtained his Juris Doctor with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1990, where he served as note and comment editor for the Iowa Law Review. He has also completed extensive training in arbitration, mediation and collaborative law, allowing him to help his clients resolve their conflicts and reach agreements without the need for expensive, time-consuming and stressful litigation.

A leader in his field, Mr. Stansbury has published numerous articles and conducted lectures and seminars across the country on a variety of topics related to family law. In addition, he has served as President of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, where he is also a Fellow.

Mr. Stansbury is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and is past president of the Wisconsin Chapter.  He has also served as chair or co-chair for a number of committees for the American Bar Association, including serving as adviser to the Uniform Law Commission Drafting Committee on the Uniform Collaborative Law Act. He is also an active member of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin, Inc. and the Ozaukee County Bar Association, among his other professional affiliations.

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

**Best Lawyers® and The Best Lawyers in America© are registered trademarks of BL Rankings, LLC d/b/a Best Lawyers and Co., LLC. The names, logo, and database are protected under the trademark, copyright, and fair use laws of the United States of America. Any use of name, including in electronic form, must be made only by permission and under the guidelines of BL Rankings, LLC d/b/a Best Lawyers and Co., LLC.

Practice areas

Family law, Alternative dispute resolution, Appellate

Focus areas

Alimony & spousal support, Child support, Divorce, Prenuptial agreements, Mediation & collaborative law

  • 80% Family law
  • 10% Alternative dispute resolution
  • 10% Appellate

First Admitted: 1990, Wisconsin

Professional Webpage:

Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Book Review: "Pension Distribution Answer Book," 16 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 37 (1996)
  • Book Review: "When your Ex Won't Pay," 15 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 53 (1995) 
  • Article: "Map Out Your Relocation Case on the Web" 20 Family Advocate 43 (1998)
  • Book Review: "The Military Divorce Handbook," 27 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 55 (2007)
  • Article: "Deadly and Dangerous Weapons and AIDS: The Moore Analysis is Likely to be Dangerous," 74 Iowa Law Review 951 (1989)
  • Article: "New Federal Laws to Ensure Medical Benefits for Children," 6 New York Domestic Relations Reporter 141 (Matthew Bender 1994)
  • Article: "'Kiddie QDROs' Now Available to Insure Medical Benefits for Children," 14 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 21 (1994)
  • Article: "Which Came First: An Examination of the Serial Family Payor Provision", 68 Wisconsin Lawyer 18 (1995)
  • Article: "Deviating from Child Support Percentages in High Income Cases," 16 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 83 (1996)
  • Article: "Deviating from the Percentages Guidelines in High Income Cases: Formulating Persuasive Arguments," 10 American Journal of Family Law 135 (1996)
  • Article: "The Internet: An Efficient and Cost Effective Tool for Successfully Litigating the Custody Relocation Case," 17 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 73 (1997)
  • Article: "Law School's Behind Me-Now What?" 30 Family Advocate 8 (Fall 2007)
  • Article: "The Pendulum Swings Again: Credit for Child Support Arrears Now Allowed in Limited Scenarios," 19 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 40 (1999)
  • Article: "When is Enough Enough? Maintenance Modification Due to Retirement," 21 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 7 (2001)
  • Article: "Federal Insurance Provisions You Must Understand: COBRA, QMCSO, and Social Security," 23 Family Advocate 18 (Spring 2001)
  • Article: "Update on Significant Family Law Cases," Wisconsin Legal Opinions (May 2001)
  • Article: "A National Blanket of Health Care Coverage: Making QMCSOs and COBRA Work," 18 GPSOLO 14 (September 2001)
  • Article: "Drafting Enforceable College Education Provisions in Settlement Agreements," 24 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 111 (2004)
  • Article: "Proactive Advise for Starting Your Own Law Firm," 27 Family Advocate 4 (Spring 2005)
  • Article: "Practicing the Five Ps," 1 Perspectives, published by the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin (Spring 2005)
  • Article: "Discovery of Mental Health Records in Custody Disputes," The Family Law Review, published by the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia (May 2005)
  • Article: "Wisconsin's Adoption of the UCCJEA Significantly Alters and Clarifies Child Custody Jurisdiction," 26 Wisconsin Journal of Family Law 93 (Fall 2006)
  • "Unique Children/Unique Plans: Revisiting Custody and Placement Issues for Special Needs Children and Divorce,” delivered to 2016 National CLE Conference, Vail, Colorado, January 2016; “Planning for Same Sex Couples After Obergefell: Is There Anything Left to Talk About?,” delivered to the 36th Annual Estate Planning Update seminar, State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison, November 2015; Co-Moderator and Author, “Utilization of Mental Health, Counseling, and Medical Records in Family Law Cases: A View from the Bench, the Bar, and Healthcare Professionals,” delivered to Wisconsin Supreme Court 2015 Family Law Seminar, June 2015; Panelist, “New Limited Scope Rules Meet Collaborative Law,” delivered to the Wisconsin Supreme Court Office of Judicial Education, Appleton, Wisconsin, November 2014; “The UCCJEA: Judge in the Box—Basics and Beyond,” delivered to the Iowa State Bar Association 2014 Family Seminar, West Des Moines, Iowa, October 2014; “Social Security and Family Law,” delivered to the Oregon State Bar Association Family Law Annual Conference, Gleneden Beach, Oregon, October 2014; “Maximizing Support and Property Division When Public Benefits or Long Term Care May Be Needed; Can We Get the Government to Add Value to Our Cases?” delivered to the State Bar of Wisconsin 33rd Annual Family Law Workshop, Door County, August 2014; Panelist Member, “Drafting, Interpreting, and Challenging Prenuptial Agreements,” delivered to the Society of Family Lawyers, Milwaukee, February 2014; “Advanced Issues on Subchapter S Income for Determining Support,” delivered to 2014 National CLE Conference, Vail, Colorado, January 2014; Panelist Member, “Client Process Choices—How to Grow your Collaborative Process,” 13th Annual Meeting of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin, Inc., Milwaukee, November 2013; “Minimizing the Impact of Compassion Fatigue: Is It Possible to Truly Live the Dream?” delivered to 2013 National CLE Conference, Snowmass, Colorado, January 2013; Panelist Member, “Guidelines, Ethics and Resources for the Guardian ad Litem,” delivered to the Ozaukee County Guardian ad Litem Training Session, Port Washington, Wisconsin, December 2012; “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act-Application to Real Facts,” delivered to the Office of Judicial Education Family Law Seminar, Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 2012; Panelist Member, “Post-Separation Parenting Arrangements: Patterns and Developmental Outcomes,” delivered to Wisconsin Family Court Commissioners Association Fall 2012 Conference, Onalaska, Wisconsin, October 2011; “Using Mediation to Expand Your Practice,” delivered to the Southeast Chapter of the Collaborative Family Law Counsel of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, June 2011; Minimizing Impact of Divorce on Special Needs Children," delivered to National CLE Conference 2011; "Can a Maintenance Payor Ever Retire?" delivered to AAML Wis. Chapter Annual Seminar 2010; "Collaborative Negotiations and Money...When the Going Gets Tough," Delivered to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, October 2008; "Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcing Placement Across State Lines: Demystifying the New UCCJEA," various Wisconsin Bar Assn., 2008; "Sub S Income for Support: Real or Illusionary?" National CLE Conference, 2007. "Discovery of Mental Health Records in Custody Disputes," American Bar Assn., Family Law Section, 2003; "Drafting & Funding College Education Provisions in Settlement Agreements," 2003; Presentations on Social Security, Child Support, Maintenance Modification, Collaborative Divorce, Placement, Office Management and Hot Tips From the Experts.
  • Article: "Is the Haugan Decision Functionally Obsolete?," 22 Wisconsin Law Journal 7 (February 2008)
  • Chapter: Social Security Benefits: A Primer for the Family Lawyer, 1996 WILEY FAMILY LAW UPDATE (Wiley & Sons 1996)
  • Chapter: Qualified Medical Child Support Orders, SYSTEM BOOK FOR FAMILY LAW (State Bar of Wisconsin)
  • Chapter: Creative Techniques for Breaking the Impasse, SETTLEMENT TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR THE FAMILY LAWYER (ABA Family Law Section 1997)
  • Chapter: Deviating from the Percentage Guidelines in High Income Cases: Formulating Persuasive Arguments, 1997 WILEY FAMILY LAW UPDATE (Wiley & Sons 1997)
  • Chapter: Balancing the Competing Interests When Piercing the Privilege: Discovery of Mental Health Records in Custody Disputes, 2003 FAMILY LAW UPDATE (Aspen Publishers 2003)
  • Chapter: Preparing Your Client for Mediation, 101+PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS FOR THE FAMILY LAWYER (2nd ed. ABA Family Law Section 2003)
Educational Background:
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Bachelor of Science, Cum Laude Graduate, Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society 
  • University of Iowa College of Law, Juris Doctor, with Distinction, Note and Comment Editor, Iowa Law Review, volume 75, Member, Iowa Law Review, volume 74
  • ABA Family Law Section Chair's Cup, 2002 and 2005.
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, International Academy of Family Lawyers; Family Law Section of State Bar of Wisconsin; Collaborative Family Law Council, Inc.; Leander J. Foley, Jr. Society of Family Lawyers; Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (Board of Directors member); Wisconsin Law Foundation; Ozaukee County Bar Association; Previous Positions: Chair, Board of Directors, State Bar of Wisconsin Family Law Section; Chief Editor, Wisconsin Journal of Family Law; President, AAML Wisconsin Chapter; President, Wisconsin Chapter of AFCC; Chair, Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin, Inc.; President, Society of Family Lawyers; Chair, ABA Family Law Section Finance Committee; Council Member, ABA Family Law Section; Chair, Pub. Dev. Board, American Bar Assn. Section of Family Law; Co-Chair, CLE Committee, American Bar Assn. Family Law Section; Co-Chair, Southeastern Chapter, Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin; ABA Advisor to the Uniform Law Commission., 2022

These comments were made by fellow attorneys during the annual nomination process.

“Carlton knows the law and is a strong advocate.”

“Well respected for collaborative law work, too. Great speaker. Very knowledgeable on UCCJEA issues, too. ”

“Very knowledgeable and level headed.A fair and insightful negotiator.”

“Love this guy. Personable, funny and oh so smart. He is extremely well respected in family law.”

Office location for Carlton D. Stansbury

11270 W. Park Place
Suite 220
Milwaukee, WI 53224

Phone: 262-592-4509


18 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2005 - 2022

Top lists

Top 25: Milwaukee Super Lawyers: 2011 - 2022 Top 50: Wisconsin Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2022 Top 10: Wisconsin Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2016, 2018 - 2022

Certificates and credentials

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