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Guide to the First Steps of Divorce in Wisconsin

It is never easy to end a marriage. Once you decide to get a divorce, you need to know what to do and how the process works. You must follow proper procedures to get a divorce. Here are some of the essential first steps towards seeking a divorce.

Meet Legal Criteria and File for a Hearing

Before you can begin the process, you must make sure that you meet the legal criteria for filing for dissolution of marriage in Wisconsin. At least one party must be a resident of the state for at least six months before filing and a resident of the county where you are filing for a period of at least 30 days. The person who files divorce paperwork is the petitioner and the other party is the respondent. Before the action moves forward, the petitioner must provide the respondent with legal documents regarding the divorce. There is a 120-day waiting period for a divorce and once granted, parties must wait at least six months to remarry.

Request a Temporary Hearing

Most divorce cases can proceed without a preliminary hearing. However, there are some circumstances that warrant the need for a temporary hearing. A temporary hearing is necessary when you and your spouse cannot agree to child custody, placement and support issues, use of the family home, use of property such as vehicles, and payment of bills or support. The court will be able to provide a temporary decision that will stay in place until the divorce proceedings are complete. In cases of abuse or domestic violence, seek immediate protection from the courts. It is helpful to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney to help with the process. Keep in mind that either party may request a temporary hearing at any time before the divorce hearing.

Grounds for Divorce

In Wisconsin married couples seeking to dissolve their union request a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce means that there was a breakdown of the marriage and that it is irretrievably broken. Both parties may agree to the divorce. In some cases, one party does not agree to divorce or to the terms of settlement. This is called a contested divorce. A contested divorce is typically a lengthier and more challenging process. In general, both parties will want to retain a divorce attorney to handle a divorce regardless of whether it is contested or not. Your attorney will answer your questions and assist you in the process from start to finish. There are many issues that you must iron out before the divorce is complete.

Resolving Divorce Settlement Terms

As part of the divorce, both parties need to review and agree to settlement terms. The many issues include such things as child residence and visitation, child support, parenting plan, division of property, and allotment of debts, spousal support, and more. With the help of your attorneys, you and your spouse will work through the many issues to come to an agreement. If you cannot reach an agreement, you may need to attend mediation. Mediation provides a professional to guide you through the resolution of particular issues in the divorce. If disagreements involve children, the court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent their best interests, as well.

The dissolution of marriage is not something you take lightly. You can make the process easier and less stressful with guidance from a skilled family law attorney. Contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. online or call us at (608) 784-8310 for an initial consultation.



Published March 5, 2021
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