How to File Divorce in Wisconsin: A Step-by-Step Guide
Divorce is never an easy decision, but if you find yourself in a situation where it is the best option for you, it’s important to understand the process of filing for divorce in your state. This article will guide you through the steps of filing for divorce in Wisconsin and answer some frequently asked questions about the process.
Step 1: Meet 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.
Step 2: Choose the Right Grounds for Divorce
Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state, which means you don’t need to prove that either party did something wrong to cause the divorce. The most common grounds for divorce in Wisconsin are irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or living apart for at least 12 months.
Step 3: Prepare the Necessary Forms
To file for divorce in Wisconsin, you need to complete a Summons and Petition form. These forms can be obtained from the county clerk’s office or online.
Step 4: File the Forms
Once you have completed the necessary forms, you must 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, unless you qualify for a fee waiver.
Step 5: Serve the Other Party
The next step is to serve the other party with the filed forms. This can be done by mail or in-person by a process server. Proof of service must be filed with the court.
Step 6: Wait for Response
After being served, the other party has 20 days to file a response. If they fail to respond within this time frame, you can request a default judgment.
Step 7: Negotiate Settlement or Go to Trial
If both parties can reach an agreement on all aspects of the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and support, you can submit a Marital Settlement Agreement to the court for approval. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial, and a judge will make the final decision.
Step 8: Finalize the Divorce
Once the court approves the Marital Settlement Agreement or makes a final decision after trial, a Judgment of Divorce will be issued. This document finalizes the divorce and outlines the terms of the settlement or court decision.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How long does it take to get a divorce in Wisconsin?
The length of the divorce process varies, but it typically takes a few months to a year to finalize a divorce in Wisconsin.
2. Can I get a divorce without a lawyer?
Yes, it is possible to get a divorce without a lawyer, but it is recommended to seek legal advice, especially if there are complex issues involved.
3. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Wisconsin?
Either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Wisconsin for at least six months before filing for divorce.
4. How much does it cost to file for divorce in Wisconsin?
The filing fee for divorce in Wisconsin varies by county but typically ranges from $150 to $300.
5. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of the divorce proceedings.
6. Can I get spousal support (alimony)?
Spousal support may be awarded based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and the standard of living established during the marriage.
7. How is child custody determined in Wisconsin?
Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child, taking into consideration factors such as the child’s wishes, the parents’ ability to cooperate, and the child’s current living situation.
8. How is property divided in a Wisconsin divorce?
Wisconsin follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. The court considers factors such as each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, the length of the marriage, and the economic circumstances of each spouse.
9. Can I modify child custody or support orders after the divorce?
Yes, child custody and support orders can be modified if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original order was issued.
Filing for divorce can be a challenging and emotional process. Understanding the steps involved and having accurate information about the Wisconsin divorce laws can help you navigate this difficult time more effectively. If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding your divorce, it is always best to consult with a qualified family law attorney for personalized advice.