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Wisconsin Divorce: What You Should Know

We know that proceeding with a divorce is challenging and emotional for you. We've helped people through the divorce process in locations across Wisconsin, and we're here to make the experience as easy as possible.

Among the things you can count on when you pursue a Wisconsin divorce online is our guarantee: Your divorce papers will be accurate and accepted by the court or we will refund your money. We're confident about offering our guarantee because it is an ongoing priority for us to ensure that our documents incorporate the most recent court regulations.If for some reason your court rejects your documents, we'll correct them for re-filing. If they're still not right, you'll get your money back.

Divorce in Wisconsin

Understanding divorce laws and processes is very important. Our team of experts is available to help you at every step.Here is key information about divorce in Wisconsin:

Where to File

Be sure that Wisconsin has jurisdiction for your divorce

If your spouse is not a Wisconsin resident, then YOU must be able to establish that you have been a resident of the state for six months prior to the date that you file your divorce complaint, and a resident of the county where you are filing for at least thirty (30) days prior. This information must be included in the complaint, and proof of residency, such as a driver's license, must be presented and proved at the final hearing. If you and your spouse are both current residents of the state, then there is no required time period.

If you have minor children who have lived with your spouse in another state for more than six months, it may be to your advantage to file in that state, since its courts will have the power to decide what happens to the children. Note: Your spouse has the option to waive that jurisdiction, which must be done properly, in writing.

 

With the exception of an option for residents living overseas, you must file your divorce in the county in which you presently live, or in the county where your spouse resides, if different. You or your spouse must have a residence within the county (in Wisconsin) in which you file for your divorce. If you live overseas, you can file in Wisconsin if you have maintained your residency in Wisconsin.

Military Divorce

Military personnel on active duty--or their spouses--can file for divorce in Wisconsin provided they have been stationed in the state for six months or were residents of the state upon entering active duty.

Our staff is highly knowledgeable about special military requirements and the details of Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act.

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Grounds For Divorce

NO-FAULT or FAULT ?

In Wisconsin the ground for a no-fault divorce is: The irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

You and your spouse can consent to the marriage being irretrievably broken, or if you have lived separate and apart for a minimum of one year without cohabitation.

If the parties have not voluntarily lived apart for a minimum of one year immediately preceeding commencement of the action and if only one party has stated under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the circumstances that gave rise to filing the petition and the prospect of reconciliation.

Waiting Periods

Waiting Periods refer to the time that a court requires to pass from the time the divorce is filed and the time that your divorce decree becomes final.

A hearing cannot be scheduled by the county clerk until 120 days after service of the summons and petition upon the respondent or after 120 days after the filing of the joint petition.

About child custody, visitation, property and support

Here is information pertaining to child custody, property, and support issues.It can help you determine the appropriate way to have your divorce documents prepared.

Child Custody

 CHILD CUSTODY:

Legal Custody: There are two types: Joint Legal Custody or Sole Legal Custody. These govern decisions made regarding how the child(ren) will be raised.

In Joint Custody, the parents decide together about regarding the child(ren)'s upbringing.

With Sole Custody, one parent makes the decisions about raising the child(ren).

Physical Custody: This determines the child(ren)'s primary residence after the divorce is final. They will live with the primary residential parent. The other parent may have visitation rights depending on the visitation schedule provided in your divorce documents.

Visitation is the same irrespective of a grant of joint custody or sole custody.

VISITATION:

This can be any schedule and details that you agree upon with your spouse, and can be changed. If you and your spouse cannot reach agreement then the state's guidelines take effect. These are outlined in the Marital Separation Agreement (MSA) provided with your divorce documents. You don't have to include your present visitation agreement. “No Visitation” or “Restricted Visitation” may be requested by supplying the reason when you fill out our questionnaire.

Child Support

There are two methods for determining support for the children involved in a divorce:.

1. You can agree with your spouse on an amount for child support. We'll prepare your divorce documents with the child support amount ordered this amount. Provided the amount is reasonable, a court usually will order it as part of you overall agreement. It is rare for a court to change an amount for child support when you both agree.

2. You can ask the court to award child support in conformance with Wisconsin's child support guidelines. The support will be either an amount you and your spouse agree upon, or determined for you by the court. If you want the court to calculate the amount of child support for you, you must file the standardized Child Support Guidelines form and Child Support Income Statement/Affidavit. We provide these among the documents that we send you.

Property & Debts

When you divorce, the personal property (vehicles, retirement accounts, furniture, businesses, etc.) owned by you and your spouse is divided. Most states are community property states, although it is referred to by different names in some states. Essentially, the property of the marriage is split equally.

Debts are handled in much the same way. Most often, spouses are able to agree on how to split their assets and debts. In an uncontested divorce, this division is accomplished using a Marital Separation Agreement (MSA). When you and your spouse agree to the property and debt division, and formalize it in the Marital Separation Agreement, it becomes incorporated by reference into the Decree of Divorce that ends your marriage. You and your spouse can divide your property however you like, provided a basic fairness is maintained. You are not required to list all the property and debts that you are dividing, as long as you agree. Some items, such as vehicles and homes, typically do get listed.

If you want to alter how you and your spouse split your property and/or debts after we have prepared your documents, just email us or contact us by phone. We'll revise your documents for you without additional charge for up to one year.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on how your property is to be divided, the marriage dissolution becomes a contested divorce instead. If at your final hearing your divorce is still contested we don't provide advice. You might have to consult an attorney or be prepared to explain to a judge why you feel your requested division of property is fair.

Real Property

If there is a home--or more than one--that you own with your spouse, you must decide how to split this property. Here are some of the options you can consider to divide your real property:

1. SELL THE HOME(S):  You split the net proceeds equally, or however you agree is fair. Some spouses decide to defer selling until a child is out of school or until the property increases in value. You can include in your divorce documents whatever you decide about this.

2. AWARD THE PROPERTY TO ONE PARTY: Usually, that party will be required to make the future payments on the property. In these cases, a quitclaim deed is usually signed. This document removes one party from the property's deed, thus making the person who is awarded the home its sole owner. Issues such as refinancing can be provided for in your divorce documents.

Spousal Support

Spousal Support is either agreed upon by the parties or determined by the judge in a contested hearing. See Code of Wisconsin - Title 30 - Chapters: 2-51, 2-52, and 2-55. We cannot give legal advice regarding spousal support but will include your request for support in the documents.

There isn't a standard calculation for spousal support. If you and your spouse cannot agree on an amount for spousal support, the amount will be determined by the Judge based on many factors, including some of the following:

1. Length of marriage

2. Standard of living prior to divorce.

3. Ability for both parties to get employment.

4. Retraining in the workforce

5. Disabilities and other factors.

Wisconsin Court Locations:

Here is information about some of the courts in Wisconsin. If your County isn't listed, we'll include the court information when we send your documents.

Douglas County Circuit Court: 1313 Belnap St., Superior, WI 54880-2769 Phone: (715) 395-1469
Eau Claire County Circuit Court: 721 Oxford Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54703-5496 Phone: (715) 839-4816
La Crosse County Circuit Court: 333 Vine St., La Crosse, WI 54601-3296 Phone: (608) 785-9590
Brown County Circuit Court: 100 S Jefferson St., Green Bay, WI 54305-3600 Phone: (920) 448-4155
Outagamie County Circuit Court: 320 S Walnut St., Appleton, WI 54911-5991 Phone: (920) 832-5131
Winnebago County Circuit Court: 415 Jackson Dr., Oshkosh, WI 54903-2808 Phone: (920) 236-4848
Dane County Circuit Court: City County Building, 215 S Hamilton St., Madison, WI 53703 Phone: (608) 266-4679
Milwaukee County Circuit Court: 901 N 9th St., Milwaukee, WI 53233 Phone: (414) 278-5362
Waukesha County Circuit Court: 515 W Moreland Blvd., Waukesha, WI 53188-2428 Phone: (262) 896-8525
Rock County Circuit Court: 51 S Main St., Janesville, WI 53545-3978 Phone: (608) 743-2200
Adams County Circuit Court: 402 Main St., Friendship, WI 53934-0220 Phone: (608) 339-4208
Columbia County Circuit Court: 400 Dewitt St., Portage, WI 53901-0587 Phone: (608) 742-9642
Juneau County Circuit Court: 220 E State St., Mauston, WI 53948-0246 Phone: (608) 847-9356
Sauk County Circuit Court: 515 Oak St., Baraboo, WI 53913-0449 Phone: (608) 355-3287
Monroe County Circuit Court: 112 S Court St., Sparta, WI 54656 Phone: (608) 269-8745
Sawyer County Circuit Court: 10610 Main, Hayward, WI 54843 Phone: (715) 634-4887
Dunn County Circuit Court: 615 Stokke Prkwy Ste 1500, Menomonie, WI 54751 Phone: (715) 232-2611
Polk County Circuit Court: 1001 West Main St., Balsam Lake, WI 54810-9071 Phone: (715) 485-9299
Bayfield County Circuit Court: 117 E 5th St., Washburn, WI 54891-9464 Phone: (715) 373-6108

Wisconsin Divorce Filing Fees.

The court filing fees for a divorce in Wisconsin is approximately $85, plus $10 if you have minor children.

If your spouse won't sign and must be served, the sheriff may charge a fee of approximately $25 to serve your spouse.

Note: If the whereabouts of your spouse is unknown, then a publication fee will apply. The publication fee is approximately $65.

There are no additional fees for an uncontested divorce.
You may call the Clerk of the Court in your county to determine the exact fees in your county.

Methods of serving your spouse: 

1. Your spouse Signs: The most common way is to have your spouse sign the documents AFTER you have filed the divorce complaint with the court. You can deliver the documents by hand, send them via postal mail, or have a third party deliver them to your spouse. This method is available even if your spouse is incarcerated. 

2. Personal Service: If your spouse will not sign or you are not sure if your spouse will sign then you can have him or her served with the documents by the sheriff in your spouse’s county. You can contact the sheriff in any county of any state to perform this service. You can also achieve service via Certified Mail, (make sure to include "Return Receipt Requested") if your spouse lives outside your state. If your spouse is incarcerated then you can have him or her served by the prison/jail officials.

3. Service by publication. If you can't locate your spouse then you can publish. The publication fee for a newspaper averages about $65 but this varies significantly. You file an Affidavit with the county clerk, who then directs that service of notice be made by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the complaint is filed. We give you all the documents you need for service by publication.

 
 
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