Wisconsin Divorce Laws

Laws are often considered difficult to understand, and only necessary for those who work in the legal field. Meanwhile, being aware of how to use the law in various situations is a great skill nowadays. For instance, an individual who knows her or his responsibilities and rights while going through the divorce process will not need to spend money on a lawyer. Therefore we invite you to learn about the divorce laws in Wisconsin and conduct the dissolution of marriage on your own.

WI divorce laws

First of all, we advise you to get acquainted with the basic terms needed to understand Wisconsin divorce procedures. Knowing them will allow you to feel more confident in court if you happen to go to trial.

In legal terms, divorce is known as dissolution of marriage in Wisconsin. That means this term is used in divorce paperwork, when talking with court officials and is mentioned in the decree that states that the couple is not married anymore. The other terms you should know to understand Wisconsin divorce information are:

  1. The petitioner is the party who initiates the process, the individual who submits the petition and supporting documents to the court.
  2. The respondent is the party who provides an answer to the petitioner’s claims.
  3. The grounds for marriage dissolution are the reasons why either partner does not want to be married anymore.
  4. The waiting period is the mandatory minimum time in which the case takes to be processed in court.
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Grounds for divorce in Wisconsin

According to Wisconsin divorce law the only acceptable ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. It means that the court does not need you to provide proof of any of your partner’s wrongdoings. However, actions such as cruelty, mental illness or unfaithfulness should be taken into account when making a decision regarding the child custody; but they are often overlooked when the decision on divorce is being made. Wisconsin divorce law on adultery does not recognize it as a reason for divorce. Meanwhile, unfaithfulness itself is considered to be a felony in WI and is punishable by imprisonment of 3 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Also, divorce laws in Wisconsin do not take the other party’s wish to remain in the marriage into account. The desire of one partner to end the marriage is enough to start the proceeding.

Wisconsin divorce process

Wisconsin divorce rules require divorcing couples to fulfill certain requirements before they start filing. There is residency as well as procedural requirements in Wisconsin. To meet the residency requirements one of the following statements must be true:

  1. Either spouse must have lived in the state of Wisconsin for at least half a year before starting the process of dissolution.
  2. Either spouse must have lived in a certain county of Wisconsin not less than a month before starting the process of dissolution.

Please note that if neither of you is a WI resident, you will not be able to get a divorce in the state. So it is advisable to check whether you fulfill this demand before moving on to the next stage of the divorce process in Wisconsin.

Procedural requirements mean the couple must write an agreement that settles any disagreements regarding how they will live after the divorce. Creating this agreement demonstrates to the judge a sincere wish to divorce peacefully and the ability to reach a mutual understanding, which is crucial for a quick divorce.

When these demands are fulfilled, the initiating party can start preparing the documents for filing with us. To do so, the petitioner should:

  1. Choose the document package that applies to their current situation.
  2. Collect the information needed to fill out the questionnaire on our website.
  3. Complete the questionnaire and pay for the chosen service.
  4. Get their completed papers right to their email.

When you receive your completed papers, don’t forget to sign and notarize them before filing them with your local court. After getting the documents notarized, you need to go through the next stage of divorce process in WI: visiting the circuit court to submit your papers. This is when you will pay the filing fee and receive a case index number.  

The next stage is delivering the papers to your spouse so they can read through the documents. Please make copies as the original documents are stored in the court. According to WI divorce law, the respondent has twenty days to respond to the claim. Remember that you are able to file a joint petition with your partner, in which case you will not need to deliver copies to them. After that there is four-month waiting period during which the case is processed by the court. Please note that the exact time will depend on the judge’s workload. After the waiting period, the couple is invited to attend a hearing, unless they have fulfilled the requirements to remove this stage. Divorce law in Wisconsin allows the hearing to be waived in case of an emergency, e.g. the health and safety of one of the spouses or their kids depend on how soon the decree of divorce comes into force. The final stage of the process is the granting of the divorce decree. Once it is issued, the dissolution of marriage is considered final.

States divorce law