Adam Onkels


Adam enjoys family law practice because it provides him with the opportunity to affect most directly the quality of life of his clients. In family practice, attorneys address highly personal issues that affect their clients’ daily living. Adam appreciates that the result of his work has a positive, appreciable impact on a given client’s day-to-day life. Adam’s strong sense of empathy makes him particularly well adapted to a field of law that has a strong emotional element. Having experienced familial separation as he grew up, Adam has seen how divorce can affect all members of a family, which perspective he uses in his daily work.

Since he began practicing law, Adam has worked primarily in the realm of family law, including divorce/separation, annulment, paternity, post-judgment modification (custody/placement, child support, and maintenance), interstate relocation, and marital property agreements. While Adam’s work is focused primarily on litigation, he also enjoys advising and counseling clients as to their options and interests while navigating family law matters outside of court. Additionally, Adam has experience as a guardian ad litem, involving advocacy of children’s best interests in custody/placement litigation. This experience has developed Adam’s ability to view situations from multiple perspectives, enabling his clients to make decisions with greater information and insight.

Adam joined Forward Legal Services in July of 2022, after working as a litigator for a nationally-based family law firm. While Adam is based in Dane County, he enjoys serving clients across southwest and south-central Wisconsin, including the counties of Green, Rock, Jefferson, Dodge, Lafayette, Richland, Iowa, Marquette, Columbia, and Sauk. Because of his work in these counties, Adam has experience with judges, court commissioners, and local practitioners throughout the area.

While Adam’s focus is on family law, he recognizes that the trials and tribulations his clients face are not always restricted to one area of law. Many issues that arise in the context of family law have implications in other areas of civil and criminal court. In addition to his work in family law, Adam has experience in criminal defense, civil litigation (contract, small claims, landlord/tenant, and temporary restraining orders/injunctions), guardianships (minor and adult), and Children in Need of Protection or Services. Here too, Adam uses these experiences to help his clients understand what choices they have in family law litigation, with an eye toward what implications those choices may have in other areas of law. Adam is also happy to assist clients with representation in these areas of law.

In family practice, Adam views the attorney-client relationship as a partnership. Adam works together with his clients to achieve the best possible outcome in a given situation. Adam believes it is essential for his clients to be fully informed of the status of their cases at all times. Further, Adam strives to counsel his clients as to the full menu of options available to them at every juncture in their work together. Adam values preparedness, which really begins with the first meeting with a client. Adam takes a goal-oriented approach to his work, ending every client contact by reviewing an action list that includes tasks to keep cases, and families, moving forward.

Outside of Adam’s dedication to the law, he enjoys much of what Dane County and southern Wisconsin have to offer, including live music, hiking in area state parks, being on or near any one of the wonderful local lakes, visiting the Dane County Farmers’ Market, and cheering on the Green Bay Packers.

Speeches & Presentations

Over 100 presentations to a variety of audiences including lawyers, judges, physicians, social workers, teachers, students, community based organizations, government agencies and the general public. Topics have included high net worth divorces, complex child custody disputes, psychological profiles of parents in child custody evaluations, child support for the self-employed or business owner, the enforceability of marital property agreements, alimony/maintenance with high net income parties; the unique legal issues in same-sex divorces, grandparent visitation rights, and resolving high conflict divorces. A few recent seminars in which Christopher has presented include:

  • Understanding the New Relocation Statute, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Madison, October 18, 2019
  • Family Law Update:  Relocation Statute, State Bar Webcast, Madison, April 15, 2019
  • Grandparent and Third-Party Visitation Rights, Wisconsin Judicial Education Seminar, Neenah, March 14, 2019
  • The New Relocation Statute:  When a Parent Wishes to Move Away, Milwaukee Bar Association, Milwaukee, February 25, 2019
  • Staying Current on New Laws Regarding Child Support and Relocation of a Child, Wisconsin Judicial Education Seminar, Lake Geneva, November 1, 2018
  • Gathering and Analyzing Financial Information in Divorce, National Business Institute, April 10, 2018
  • Today’s Diversity and Inclusion Programs: Successes, Ethical Issues and Challenges, State Bar of Wisconsin, December 11, 2017
  • Divorce Law: Handling Relocation Issues, National Business Institute National Teleconference, July 5, 2016
  • “Divorce” for Unmarried Partners, State Bar of Wisconsin Webcast, May 2016
  • Grandparent Visitation Rights, State Bar of Wisconsin Webcast, May 2016
  • Case Law Update: Family Law, State Bar of Wisconsin Webcast, May 2016
  • Wisconsin Child Support & Enforcement Conference, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, October 23, 2015
  • Divorce 101: The Basics, Morgan Stanley, Inc., Middleton, Wisconsin, October 13, 2015


  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • Dane County Bar Association


  • Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin


  • University of Wisconsin Law School, 2016, Juris Doctor
  • Philosophy and Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007, Bachelor of Arts


  • Since 2014 Best Lawyers in America in the area of Family Law
  • 2017 & 2018 Lawyers of Distinction
  • 2015 Leader in the Law by the Wisconsin Law Journal
  • 2015 Top 10 Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys
  • 2006, 2007 & 2010 Rising Star designation with Law and Politics magazine
  • 2005, 2007 & 2009 Volunteer Attorney of the Year from AIDS Network
  • 2007 Executive Director’s Volunteer of Year Award from AIDS Network
  • 2006 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, Dane County Bar Association
  • Admission into the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • Fellow – Fellows of Wisconsin Law Foundation
  • Member of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin

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