How Do I File for Divorce in Wisconsin

How Do I File for Divorce in Wisconsin?

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional process. If you are considering filing for divorce in Wisconsin, it is important to understand the steps involved and the requirements set forth by the state. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to file for divorce in Wisconsin.

1. Understand the Residency Requirements: In order to file for divorce in Wisconsin, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing.

2. Decide on Grounds for Divorce: Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not need to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. The most common grounds for divorce are irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

3. Prepare Necessary Documents: Begin by completing the necessary forms for divorce. These may include a summons, petition, and financial disclosure statement. You can obtain these forms from your county courthouse or online.

4. File the Documents: Once the forms are completed, file them with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse resides. You will need to pay a filing fee at this time.

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5. Serve the Documents: After filing, you must serve the documents on your spouse. This can be done through personal service, where someone over the age of 18 delivers the documents, or through certified mail with return receipt requested.

6. Wait for Response: Your spouse has 20 days to respond to the divorce petition. If they fail to respond, you may be able to proceed with a default judgment.

7. Negotiate Settlement or Go to Court: If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce, you can negotiate a settlement agreement. If not, the court will schedule a hearing where both parties can present their case and the judge will make a decision.

8. Finalize the Divorce: Once the court has made a decision or you have reached a settlement, the judge will issue a final judgment of divorce. This document legally ends your marriage.

9. Follow Post-Divorce Requirements: After the divorce is finalized, there may be additional requirements such as attending a parenting class or changing your name. Be sure to comply with all post-divorce obligations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

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1. How long does it take to get a divorce in Wisconsin?
The length of time varies depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. Uncontested divorces typically take a few months, while contested divorces can take longer.

2. Can I get a divorce without a lawyer?
Yes, you can file for divorce without a lawyer. However, it is recommended to consult with an attorney, especially if you have complex financial or child custody issues.

3. What is the cost of filing for divorce in Wisconsin?
The filing fee varies by county but is generally around $200. Additional costs may include attorney fees, mediation fees, and court costs.

4. Can I file for divorce online in Wisconsin?
No, Wisconsin does not currently offer online divorce filing. You must file your documents in person at the courthouse.

5. Can we use mediation instead of going to court?
Yes, mediation is an alternative to going to court. It allows you and your spouse to work with a neutral third party to negotiate a settlement agreement.

6. What happens to our property and debts during divorce?
Wisconsin follows the principle of equitable distribution, meaning that property and debts acquired during the marriage will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally.

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7. Will I have to pay alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, may be awarded if one spouse has a significantly higher income or if there is a substantial difference in earning capacity.

8. How is child custody determined in Wisconsin?
Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. The court considers factors such as the child’s wishes, the parents’ ability to co-parent, and the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community.

9. Can I modify the divorce judgment in the future?
Yes, under certain circumstances, you may be able to modify child custody, child support, or alimony orders if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original judgment was issued.

Filing for divorce in Wisconsin can be a complex process, but understanding the steps involved and having the necessary information can make it more manageable. It is always advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney to guide you through this challenging time and ensure your rights are protected.