The Basics of Divorce in Wisconsin
The decision to end your marriage is never easy. Regardless of how long you were married, divorce can be one of the most traumatic and stressful times of your life. The following is some basic information that may be helpful when you are seeking a divorce in Wisconsin. Of course, seeking guidance from a local and knowledgeable divorce attorney can help with the process and ensure your rights are protected.
What are the Requirements for Divorce in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, at least one party must be a resident of the state for a period of at least six months before filing for divorce. You must reside in the particular county for 30 days before you file the petition for divorce. Wisconsin law also requires a 120-day waiting period. The waiting period starts when the petition is filed or when the other party is served with papers. Notably, Wisconsin does not require grounds for divorce. In other words, neither party has to have done anything overtly wrong in order to justify the divorce. You may seek a divorce on the assertion that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
How do We Divide Marital Property?
Marital property is to be divided in an equitable manner between spouses. Marital property is community property and therefore it belongs to both parties. While marital property is generally split equally between the spouses in a divorce, there are a few exceptions to such division. For example, property that was inherited by or gifted to only one spouse during the marriage may be that spouse’s individual (sole) property. In addition, if one spouse owned property of value prior to the marriage, the Court can look to that ownership and determine whether it is still equitable to divide such property equally between the parties. If you and your spouse owned property together before you got married, the situation may be more complicated.
How Does the Court Handle Legal Custody and Physical Placement of a Child/Children?
In most cases, it is beneficial to the children that the parents participate equally in the upbringing and raising of those children. The Court will address both legal custody and physical placement rights. Legal custody means a party or both parties can make important decisions that affect the child, such as those having to do with religion, education and health care. Physical placement pertains to where the child actually resides, and how frequently the child resides with each parent. The law requires that the Court determine placement in a manner that is in a child’s best interests, and further that the Court provide regularly occurring and meaningful periods of placement with each parent, unless exigent circumstances exist with respect to placement with any particular parent. In Wisconsin, the Court will also require that each parent participate in a class on the “Effects of Divorce on Children” prior to finalizing a divorce judgment.
What Happens if We do Not Agree?
There are many complex issues involved in a divorce, making it likely that couples may disagree at least with respect to some issues. An experienced, local divorce attorney can help guide you through this process and work with you to resolve as many issues whenever possible. Disputes can prolong the divorce process and make it more expensive. An attorney can help you decide what issues are worthwhile to contest, and what issues may be better to resolve. With respect to legal custody and physical placement of a child, a Court may order that you attend mediation in an attempt to resolve those issues. In Wisconsin, the first mediation attempt is paid for by the Court, while subsequent attempts are paid by the parties. Once it can be determined that all issues are either resolved, or as many issues as possible are resolved, a final divorce hearing can be scheduled with the Court. If there are no remaining issues in dispute, the Court will scheduled a stipulated divorce hearing which generally takes 30 minutes or less. If any issues remain in dispute, the Court will schedule a contested divorce hearing, and the duration of that hearing will be dependent upon what issues remain in dispute. As to any disputed issues, it will be up to the Court to make a final determination on those issues.
Divorce is not easy, but you can make it less stressful when you choose an attorney with experience, compassion, and expertise handling all types of family law issues. Contact Ledin, Olson & Cockerham, S.C. today to schedule a consultation.