Wisconsin Divorce FAQs:

Steps To File Your Own Divorce:

Step 1: Download our free online divorce forms kit.

Step 2: The person who is deciding to file for divorce must complete all of the required divorce forms. The finished divorce papers must then be filed with the family court in the state where you reside. You can get divorced in a state other than the state you were married in as long as you meet the residency requirements for the state where you are going to file your divorce. You will also be required to pay a filing fee for your complete divorce forms. The fee to file for divorce varies from state to state. Check with your local family court to get the exact cost to file for divorce in your state.

Step 3: The spouce that files for divorce must notify the other spouse that you have filed for divorce by using the divorce forms included in our download.

Step 4: You and your spouse should outline in your divorce settlement agreement the terms you have agreed upon and set forth for one another such as child custody and support, property and asset division, spousal support, etc.

Step 5: After you have completed all of the required divorce forms and have filed them in divorce court, the court will review your divorce documents and issue you a final decree of divorce.

The only ground upon which divorce is granted in the State of Wisconsin is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage of which there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Statute 767.07

Residency requirements At least one of the parties to the divorce action must have resided in Wisconsin for at least six months and the county of filing for at least thirty days prior to the commencement of the action. 767.05

Where to File The petition for divorce may be filed in the county where either spouse resides. 767.05

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties An action for divorce is filed in the Circuit Court. The title of the action initiating the divorce proceeding is a Petition, while the title of the order granting the divorce is the Decree. The party initiating the action is referred to as the Petitioner and the other party is the Respondent. If the action is filed jointly, both parties are referred to as Co-Petitioners. 767.05

Waiting Period Wisconsin law provides that no divorce shall issue until 120 days have elapsed from either the time the defendant is served with the summons, or from the date of filing of a joint petition. 767.083 Legal Separation Wisconsin permits a judgment of legal separation on the same grounds as for an action for divorce. 767.07

Mediation Requirements If child custody is a contested issue in a divorce action in Wisconsin, the court will require the parties to submit to mediation. The court may also require parties requesting joint custodial arrangements to submit to mediation and/or an educational program on the effects of divorce on children. 767.11

Alimony/Support The court may order either party to pay the other spouse alimony without regard to fault. Factors the court will consider in determining the amount and duration of the award of support include such things as:

1. The financial resources of the party seeking support; 2. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the person seeking support to find appropriate employment; 3. The standard of living established during the marriage; 4. The duration of the marriage; 5. The contribution of each spouse to the marriage; 6. The age, physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking support, and; 7. The ability of the payor spouse to meet his needs while meeting the needs of the spouse seeking support. 767.26 » Return to top Distribution of Property In an action for divorce, the court will first set aside to each spouse that spouse’s separate property. The court will then distribute the marital property following the presumption that all marital property should be divided equally. Some of the factors the court will consider in altering the equal distribution of the marital property include: 1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property; 2. The value of each spouse’s separate property; 3. The duration of the marriage and; 4. The age and health of the parties; 5. The amount and sources of income of each party; 6. The standard of living established during the marriage. 7. Any other relevant factor. 767.255 Child Custody The court will determine custody based upon the best interests of the child. It is presumed that joint custody is in the child’s best interests. Some of the factors the court will consider in making the custody determination include:

1. The wishes of the child; 2. The wishes of the parents 3. The interaction of the child with his parents and siblings; 4. The child’s adjustment to his home, school and community, 5. Whether one parent is likely to unreasonably interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent, and; 6. Any other relevant factor.

If custody is contested, the court will require each parent to submit a parenting plan providing the court details regarding such things as:

1. The type of custodial arrangement the parent is seeking 2. Where the parent currently lives and where that parent intends to live for the next two years 3. Where the parent works and hours of employment 4. Child care 5. The school the child will attend 6. Medical expenses 7. Visitation 8. Dispute resolution. 767.24 » Return to top Child Support Either or both parents may be required to pay an amount reasonable to support a child of the marriage. Wisconsin has established child support guidelines which serve as the presumed correct amount of support to be paid. Some of the factors the court will consider in deviating from the guidelines include: 1. The financial resources of the child; 2. The financial resources of the parents; 3. The financial needs of each party; 4. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage continued; 5. The age, education, and physical and mental health of the child, and; 6. Any other relevant factor. 767.25

Name change Upon request, the court may order that the wife’s maiden or former name be restored. 767.20.