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Does Wisconsin Have a Separation Requirement Before Divorcing?

Divorce is a major life decision and one that couples do not take lightly. Couples often disagree about a number of issues that can result in a broken marriage. According to the United States Census Bureau, the national divorce rate average is 7.6%. This means that almost eight women out of 100 face divorce. The Wisconsin divorce rates are slightly lower, at 6.4%. Some of the most common disagreements that result in divorce are disputes over finances and children. Each state has rules in place that govern how a divorce can take place. Wisconsin allows for no-fault divorce, allowing for an easier and less complicated uncoupling process. An experienced divorce attorney will help you navigate the divorce process and help protect your rights.

Requirements for Divorce in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has several important requirements in place for those who wish to end their marriage. At least one of the parties must be a resident of Wisconsin for a period of six months prior to filing the petition. You must also have lived in the county in which you will file for divorce for at least 30 days. Although couples do not have to be legally separated to file for divorce, there is a 120-day waiting period. The waiting period begins when you file jointly or when a spouse is served with papers. Wisconsin considers property owned by married couples as marital property and it belongs equally to both parties.

Legal Separation in Wisconsin

While some states require a period of separation for couples seeking to end their marriages, legal separation is not a requirement for divorce in Wisconsin. However, some couples may prefer to seek a legal separation in some instances. A legal separation offers a way for couples to live apart with a legal order in place. A legal separation addresses all the same issues as a divorce, however, the couple remains married. This could be beneficial for some couples who need an order in place while they go through a lengthy divorce, or for couples who for religious or other reasons, do not wish to seek a divorce.

Steps to Obtain a Divorce

One of the first steps to begin the divorce process is to file a petition to dissolve the marriage. You can file the petition jointly or alone. You and your spouse should come to a general agreement over basic issues of bill payments, child custody and visitation, and support. You may need a hearing to provide a temporary order. It is advisable for both parties to seek legal representation to assist in the process. Parents may need to complete an approved  parenting course.

Couples should work together to agree on the settlement terms of the divorce such as distribution of assets, living arrangements, child visitation and support, and alimony, to name a few. Your lawyer will help resolve disagreements. If you have major disputes, you might benefit from mediation. As the process comes to completion, you will go to a hearing in front of a judge. The judge will review the marital settlement agreement and finalize the divorce order.

Divorce can cause quite a bit of turmoil and stress in your life and in the lives of your family. An experienced divorce attorney will guide the process and help you through the divorce with as little strife as possible. To learn more about divorce in Wisconsin, contact our legal team at (608) 784-8310 or online for an initial consultation.

Published April 11, 2022
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