How to File For Divorce in Wisconsin: Unhitching The Wagon in 2024

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Introduction

Divorce is like trying to separate spaghetti strands after they’ve been cooked – it’s messy, sticky, and there’s a good chance you’re going to end up with sauce on your face. But fear not, I, DubG from Mom Versus the World, am here to help you navigate the labyrinth of Wisconsin divorce laws, from the “ABCs of Divorce” to the intricate dance of “Legal Separation” I will walk you through the process of how to file for divorce in Wisconsin in 2024.

    • But first, to be clear, I’m not an attorney. I am a single mom... FINALLY, after a 5 year, 3 attorney, $300,000 divorce dragged me around and spit me out into the pro se bullpit for a year. I went through hell, learned a whole boatload about how bad the family court systems are in the US and lived to tell my story.

Just Want the Wisconsin Divorce Forms?

Simply click here and provide your email address to download the printable forms, including the Financial Disclosure Statement (FA-4139V), Marital Settlement Agreement (FA-4150V/FA-4151V), and more​​.

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The Two-Step: Divorce vs Legal Separation in Wisconsin

In the land of cheese and Packers, we have two main options when it comes to ending a marriage: divorce and legal separation. The steps for both are like twins – similar but with their own unique quirks. Whether you’re filing for divorce or legal separation, you’ll need to sort out the same issues: who gets what (division of finances and property) and who gets the kids (issues of child custody and support).

The Starting Line: Filing for Divorce in Wisconsin

To kickstart your divorce in the Wisconsin court system, you must have been a resident of Wisconsin for 6 months and of the county you wish to file in for 30 days. Filing for divorce in Wisconsin can feel like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube blindfolded, but don’t worry, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Rulebook: Wisconsin Court System – eFile/eCourts

The Wisconsin Court System is your rulebook, providing a guide to divorce and legal separation in Wisconsin. It takes you through a series of questions and provides the basic forms you’ll need to file and the steps you’ll need to take to start the divorce process in Wisconsin.

The Countdown: Wisconsin Residency Requirement

To file for divorce or legal separation in Wisconsin, at least one of the two spouses must have lived in Wisconsin for six months before the date of filing. In addition, one of the two parties must have lived for at least 30 days in the county where the action is filed.

The Reason: Grounds for Divorce in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state and there is only one ground for filing. In Wisconsin, the only reason to file for divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. It’s like saying, “This cake can’t be unbaked.”

The Waiting Game: Wisconsin Divorce Process

During the legally-required waiting period of 120 days, there may be many steps in the divorce process you need to undertake. It’s like waiting for your nails to dry after a manicure – you can’t rush it, but there’s plenty to do in the meantime.

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The Split: Wisconsin Property Division and Spousal Maintenance

During the divorce, marital property is divided between the spouses. In Wisconsin, the division of property is done according to the community property rule. It’s like splitting a pizza – everyone gets an equal slice.

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The Kids: Child Custody in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law awards legal custody—authority to make major decisions concerning the child—and physical placement—the right to have a child placed with a parent—separately. It’s like deciding who gets to hold the remote and who gets to choose the channel.

Understanding the Process

Embarking on a Pro Se Divorce in Wisconsin means you’re steering the ship without a legal professional by your side. It’s crucial to grasp the significance of each form and step in the process to avoid common pitfalls.

Gathering Necessary Forms

Instead of sending you on a wild goose chase to the Wisconsin courts website, I’ve compiled all the essential forms you’ll need in one convenient location. Simply click here and provide your email address to download the printable forms, including the Financial Disclosure Statement (FA-4139V), Marital Settlement Agreement (FA-4150V/FA-4151V), and more​​.

Financial Disclosure: Laying It All Out

Transparency in your financial situation is paramount. Each party must complete a Financial Disclosure Statement unless a Joint Statement is agreed upon. This ensures all assets and debts are on the table for fair division​​.

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Marital Settlement Agreement: The Heart of the Divorce

This document is where you’ll outline the division of assets, debts, and, if applicable, child support and custody arrangements. It’s a critical piece that requires careful consideration and accuracy​​.

Navigating Child Support and Custody

Wisconsin has specific guidelines for child support, but deviations are possible with sufficient justification. If there’s a shared physical placement schedule, detailed variable costs for child-related expenses must be included​​.

The Legal Proceedings: From Temporary Orders to Final Hearing

You might need to attend a temporary hearing where a commissioner or judge will decide on temporary orders. As you move towards the final hearing, ensure all your documents, including the Marital Settlement Agreement and Financial Disclosure Statements, are in order. The final hearing is where you’ll need to be prepared, polite, and present all necessary paperwork​​.

Cost Considerations

The cost of filing can vary by county, typically around $180, but fee waivers are available for those who qualify. While the average divorce cost with attorney’s fees can reach around $10,000, going Pro Se can significantly reduce these expenses. However, certain situations, particularly those involving complex issues or uncooperative parties, might still necessitate legal counsel​​.

The Importance of Legal Advice

While many choose to go pro se due to economic constraints or seemingly straightforward cases, it’s essential to understand the complexities that can arise. Issues like spousal maintenance, property division, and custody can become contentious and complex, making professional legal advice invaluable. My only advice to you is speak to at least 2 different Wisconsin divorce lawyers, just to feel them out, but make sure to come prepared. You get about 15 minutes before they realize, so come prepared to milk every piece of free advice out of them as you can.

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FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

Is property always divided equally in Wisconsin divorce?

In Wisconsin, the division of property is done according to the community property rule. This means that all assets of the marriage are taken together regardless of how it’s titled and divided 50/50.

How long does it take to get divorced in Wisconsin?

After you file and pay any fees, there is a 120 waiting period between the initial filing and a final divorce decree.

How much does it cost to get a Wisconsin divorce?

The cost of a divorce in Wisconsin can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the case, whether it’s contested or uncontested, and the attorney’s fees.

In the end, remember that divorce is just a chapter, not the whole book. And like any good book, it’s full of plot twists, character development, and hopefully, a happy ending.