Wisconsin divorce details
Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Wisconsin
Two main types of the divorce proceeding are "Contested" and "Uncontested". It depends on whether you want to contest your case in the court or not. Nowadays, there is a tendency to refuse to contest the divorce case before the court if it’s possible.
Contested divorce refers to more complicated cases with a misunderstanding between the spouses or some misconduct, difficult child-related situations or high-net-worth divorces. You definitely need an attorney to represent yours in such a litigation process. A contested divorce means that every spouse wants to win something from the situation or at least wants to fight for some property or rights.
In opposite, the aim of an uncontested divorce is to terminate the marriage as soon as possible. The spouses are agreed to be responsible for all other issues. They can hire attorneys or can do everything by themselves if there is an agreement about property and liabilities division. An uncontested divorce, usually, is a non-stressful process with the only short final hearing at the court. Also, it costs much less and takes less time.
Uncontested Divorce in Wisconsin
The principal condition for an uncontested divorce is the spouses’ mutual desire to end their married life and willingness to cooperate. In the most favorable case, the spouses can file for divorce jointly excluding the cost of delivering documents (from the filing-spouse to the partner) and saving time.
Ultimately, an uncontested divorce means that the spouses can independently resolve all the most important issues of their case such as child support, custody, and parenting time, property and debt division, and other. They should express their agreed terms with the special paper called Settlement agreement, and submit it to the court.
An uncontested divorce case may be governed with the help of lawyers, mediators, online guidelines, or just can be arranged by the parties themselves.
Thinking about an uncontested divorce, it is essentially important to objectively assess your opportunities and relationship with your partner.
Grounds for Divorce in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a pure no-fault state. You not only have not to give the court a cause you want to get a divorce but even cannot do it.
The only ground for divorce is the mutual desire of the parties to end the marriage. If both of them are ready to testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will grant the divorce. So you haven’t to open some private details of your life, to blame or to be blamed.
Surely, if there are some complications, and, for example, one of the parties disagrees to get a divorce, his/her partner should prove the court some evidence of their marriage problems, such as living apart for a year.
Wisconsin Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
"Residency requirements of the state of Wisconsin" regulate who have right to get a divorce under the Wisconsin laws. So, at least one of the parties must be a resident of the state for 6 months or more before filing the petition. Also, one of the spouses must reside in a particular county for ate least 30 days to file for divorce in the local court.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Wisconsin?
If you meet the residency requirements you can get down to business. There are some basic steps of an uncontested divorce process you have to take anyway, no matter what additional efforts would your case demand.
- File a Petition. You should find an appropriate type of form, as there are different petition forms for cases with or without children, and for sole or joint filing. You should submit the Petition and other paperwork in the correct circuit court and pay the filing fee.
Notice! Once you file a Petition the state’s 120-days waiting period begins to run. Waiting period means that even if you file as co-petitioners and have not any disagreements, your divorce action cannot be finalized earlier than after 120 days. This period is mandatory and the same for all cases.
- Serve your spouse with the divorce documents. If you file a sole Petition you should take the copies of forms for your partner. In that way, you should officially give him/her an opportunity to contest the case or waive the service and agree to an uncontested divorce.
- Wait the rest of the waiting period. You can use this time to negotiate with your partner and prepare the Marital Settlement Agreement.
- Attend the final hearing. After that, the court grants a judgment of divorce.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Wisconsin
The state of Wisconsin welcomes so-called do-it-yourself divorces.
Wisconsin Courts website provides a lot of different forms and quite detailed instructions of most common cases.
You probably can arrange the DIY divorce if your case is not complicated, and you have neither big assets nor debts. If you haven’t children it also will be easier. But generally, every case is unique and a lot depends on your relationship with your spouse. If you can be honest and polite and can negotiate respectfully for the sake of your children’s better life, than you may try to get a DIY divorce even with children involved.
Remember, that if you have any questions or difficulties with some issues, you can prepare your DIY divorce papers with the help of our service as well as get a qualified online assistance.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
It is easier to predict the cost of a divorce if the case is as simple as possible. So, an amount of a filing fee (about $200) can be called a start price for the divorce in Wisconsin.
If there are additional court fees, for example, for serving your spouse with the papers, it can be required to pay between $200 and $400. An average hourly cost of mediation is about $200.
As for contested divorce, its average cost in Wisconsin is $11 300, and the attorney fees are $220 per hour.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin has a rather long waiting period - 120 days. So, no dissolution of the marriage can be finalized in a shorter time.
In average, Wisconsin divorce takes between 6 months and 1 year from filing to final.
Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Wisconsin
Here are some basic forms you should file for your uncontested divorce in the state of Wisconsin:
Types: Petition without children FA-4109V; Petition with children FA-4108V; Joint petition without children FA-4111V; Joint petition with children FA-4110V.
This form is need to commence the divorce proceeding.
- Summons (with - FA-4104V / without children - FA-4105V).
This form is need if you file on your own and serve your spouse with the Petition. This form notifies your partner about the proceeding.
- Confidential Petition Addendum GF-179.
Provides confidential information concerning social security numbers (refers to Sole Petition).
- Marital Settlement Agreement without Minor Children FA-4151V / Marital Settlement Agreement with Minor Children FA-4150V.
Fill it out if you’ve reached an agreement on all the significant issues like alimony, property and debts division, children custody and support).
How to Serve Your Spouse in Wisconsin
If you have not an opportunity to file a joint Petition, your responsibility is to serve your partner with the copies of the Petition and Summons to officially notify him/her about divorce action. Notice that the Respondent (the non-filing spouse) must be served with the documents within 90 days after your filing. You may deliver the paperwork in one of these ways:
- Sheriff’s service.
- Private process service.
- Your friend or relative over 18 can hand the papers for your spouse.
- Certified mail (then you also should sign an Affidavit of Mailing).
After that, your spouse has 20 days to file an answer.
Online Divorce in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, you have to file for divorce in a circuit court of you relevant area, but you still can prepare your dissolution forms online.
You can observe all needed forms and read some instructions on the Wisconsin Court System website. As well, you can ask for our help. Our service offers a convenient work format. Once you provide some essential information about your case we can customize it according to your county’s rules and your personal circumstances so that you get a correct paperwork set. After you fill out the forms we can review them, and our specialists are always in touch to provide you qualified online-support.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Wisconsin
Wisconsin law encourages divorced parents to hold a joint legal custody if each of them is a proper candidate. Legal custody refers to decision-making power, and it seems to be in the best interest of a child when both parents have a right to negotiate some important changes in their child’s life.
The physical custody, or “Placement”, regulates with whom the child lives. It is usually given for one parent, who also is responsible for a child’s everyday routine and daycare. However, it is typically required by the court to set a schedule for the second parent’s visitation. The sharing of parenting time is claimed as important for a child. Placement order can be different under the different circumstances of the certain couple, but usually, it is aimed to maximize periods of time spending with each parent.
The sole custody can be given if it is established by the court that joint custody does not meet the interests of the child, or both spouses agree to sole custody.
As for child support, it is a responsibility of both spouses in Wisconsin. Each parent has to contribute to child support according to their financial opportunities.
Usually, the parent who has a smaller part of physical custody must make a payment (or pay more). But it is implied that the custodial parent already contributes to the everyday care of the child, so the amount of payment is calculated according to this assumption.
Rules for Spousal Support in Wisconsin
Spousal support, also called spousal maintenance or alimony, is the pay from the one former spouse to the other, who is more financially dependent after the divorce. Each spouse can request for the spousal support depending on how the marriage ended.
In Wisconsin, there is no special guidelines to calculate an amount and duration of these payments, and it is not even necessary to involve the court to handle with alimony. A lot of Wisconsin couples regulate this issues by themselves, placing the terms of the spousal support into their Settlement agreement, which must be submitted to the court.
If the couple wants the court order to appoint and approve a spousal support, they should notice, that the court consider numerous factors that can affect the decision.
Among these factors are:
length of a marriage; health condition; earning capacity and professional skills of each spouse; whether one of the spouses contributed to the professional upgrading of the other, and so on.
If there are children involved the court can order a Family support, that combines both Children and Spousal support.
Division of Property in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is one of the states which have a presumption that all the marital property and debts must be divided equally, 50/50. Such states are in minority in the US and are also called “community property states" because all the property acquired during the marriage is considered to be common and should be divided equally no matter who and how much invested.
Moreover, Wisconsin courts usually treat all the property (not only acquired during the married life) as a community property, unless the person can prove otherwise.
The law recognizes the property earned prior to marriage, one spouse's personal gifts and inheritances, but doesn’t define it automatically. You should be ready to present some evidence for keep your initial sole property.
Division of Debt in Wisconsin
An equal division is referred to the debt too, as debt is a part of marital (community) property.
So, all the debts of the marriage are the both spouses’ responsibility. It may seem very unfair. No matter whether the other spouse knows about some expenses or assets or not he/she has to pay eventually.
Also, it doesn't even matter in whose name the card is if there is a credit card debt.
Divorce Mediation in Wisconsin
Mediation is an optional process to help the spouses to resolve important issues relating to their divorce and to make their Settlement agreement if there is an uncontested case.
During the mediation session, the spouses negotiate with the assistance of a neutral third party - the mediator, who often is an attorney by profession or a former judge and is well aware of the divorce proceedings nuances. It is often easier to reach an agreement under the qualified guidance. Also, mediation tries to provide a calm and respectful atmosphere for your discus.
However, the mediator shouldn’t give a legal advice or make or approve some decision like the judge does, unless the spouses ask for it and agree to these decisions.
Notice! Wisconsin is almost the only state where it is allowed to spouses to attend mediation with their attorneys if any.
How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Wisconsin
To divorce a missing spouse in Wisconsin you still have to try to serve him/her with the divorce paperwork using the last known address, employment and so on. In order to tell the court that you cannot locate your spouse, you should make a thorough search first. After you present evidence of your attempts to find and serve the former spouse you can request a divorce by publication.
You must file a Publication Summons and a Publication Affidavit of Mailing, then you should notify your spouse about divorce proceeding with the publication in a local newspaper.
Your spouse’s further silence may lead a default judgment against him/her. The divorce can be granted without any participation of the missing partner.
Default Divorce in Wisconsin
Generally, the missing-spouse situation is a good example of default judgment.
Default judgment implies the dismissing of action in a case when the Respondent fails to appear at the court, refuses to answer the divorce Petition or just cannot be located (as in the block above).
Typically, the default divorce assumes that the Respondent has not any requests for the court, so the divorce is granted on the terms of the Petitioner.
Annulment of the Marriage in Wisconsin
An annulment declares the marriage initially erroneous and illegal according to the state law. In other words, while a divorce terminates a legal marriage, an annulment terminate an invalid marriage, and you can consider that your marriage has never existed.
In the state of Wisconsin, there are 8 grounds for an annulment:
- Underage marriage.
- Mental incapacity of the spouse or drug/alcohol influence at the time when marriage was registered.
- A marriage consent obtained by force or duress.
- Fraud marriage (one of the spouses hid something extremely important to the marriage).
- Recently divorced (at least one of the spouses terminated a previous marriage only 6 months ago or less).
Notice! Nevertheless, an annulment action allows the court to order the same thing as in the case of divorce in Wisconsin. So if there are children from the annulled marriage, they are still considered as legitimate, and their parents can resolve all the support and custody issues in the court. The spousal support and property division also can be arranged.
Legal Separation in Wisconsin
Legal Separation is the way to terminate the married life and remain married officially.
In case of a legal separation the court rules on all the same issues as for divorce, but spouses cannot remarry.
A legal separation can be the relevant option if you want to separate from your spouse and but, for example, you don’t meet the residency requirements for divorce. By the way, filing for a legal separation you must point out the reason for your request. The time frame and all the forms are the same as for divorce.
When the legal separation is granted the spouses can both reconcile or turn their legal separation into the divorce at any time if there is a mutual intention. If one of the legal-separated spouses wants a divorce and the other doesn’t give a consent the divorce can be granted after a year of separation. Also, even if the divorce is granted after a legal separation both parties have no right to marry wherever in the world for at least 6 months after that.
Same-Sex Divorce in Wisconsin
The state of Wisconsin recognizes same-sex marriages and grants same-sex divorces since 2014.
Nowadays, there are not any specific conditions and terms for LGBT couples in how their married union must be terminated. All the procedure is the same as for straight partners, and the issues of child custody and family support are regulated as well.
If you were married outside the state, or even outside the USA you still can file for divorce in Wisconsin, meeting the relevant residency requirements of the state.
Military Divorce in Wisconsin
All the military members are protected from the default judgment by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, so when one of the divorcing spouses is an active service member the divorce proceeding can be postponed for the whole period he/she is on duty and the additional 60 days after that.
The serving rules are generally the same as for civil divorce - the spouse must be personally served with the copies of Petition and Summons. In an uncontested case, the military spouse may not be served as long as he/she signs a Waiver affidavit confirming the divorce.
As for family support, there is a rule that it can be more than 60% of a military spouse’s pay and allowances.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Wisconsin
Since Wisconsin is a no-fault state, so your desire to get a divorce is enough reason for the court to grant it. If your spouse is incarcerated, it can make the process even faster, because even if your partner doesn’t agree to the divorce, his/her imprisonment is a convincing evidence of your breakdown. Also, it is easy to serve your spouse with the paperwork.
To predict the process exactly you should consult the lawyer, paralegal or the court clerk, but there is no any special obstacles and you definitely have your right for quite an easy dissolution.
Wisconsin Divorce Filing Fee
A filing fee is an initial payment for the divorce proceeding charged by every court. It allows to “open” your case and covers basic court services. In Wisconsin, as in many other states, the filing fee may vary by county. In average, it can be between $175 and $195.
You should contact the certain county court to know exactly.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
Yes, a filing fee usually can be cancelled for those people, who are experiencing a financial hardship. To waive the filing fee they need to fill out the additional form. In Wisconsin, it is Petition for Waiver of Fees and Costs - Affidavit of Indigency and Order (CV-410). This form provides the court with information about all the needed financial information and proves the low income of the person.
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