The decision to file for a divorce is rarely an easy one to make. Once you’ve decided to move forward, taking the first step can be a confusing ordeal. That’s why we’ve created a simple guide to help you initiate a divorce in Wisconsin.
1. Get the facts straight and surround yourself with those who want to help
The decision to get divorced should not be taken lightly. If you decide to move forward, be extremely cautious of what you say and to whom. This goes for online interactions such as posts and comments on Facebook too. In today’s highly connected world, it’s very easy for rumors to spread and unwanted information to pass inadvertently from person to person.
Surround yourself with level-headed, clear-thinking friends and family members who want to offer legitimate help. While it may be difficult, be very conscious of your peers. It can have a significant impact on your separation later.
2. Consult with an experienced family law attorney
No matter what circumstances you find yourself in before initiating a divorce, it’s always in your best interest to contact an attorney who can offer advice and assistance.
Experienced family law attorneys have worked with people in your position many times before and know exactly how to plan for the process ahead. Many attorneys offer free consultations meant specifically for these situations. Click here to reach out to our team for a free consultation.
3. Familiarize yourself with Wisconsin’s divorce laws
Wisconsin is a no fault state. This means you do not need to state a reason for wanted a divorce other than saying there is an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” and that there is no “likelihood of reconciliation.”
Wisconsin is also a community property state. This means the court will divide marital property and debts equally between you and your spouse. While it’s often difficult to achieve a perfect 50/50 split, the court will do their best to ensure each party has the same amount of assets and debts.
There are, however a number of factors that can tip the balance of distribution. Click here to read more about that. Again, the division of property often differs greatly depending on the circumstances. It’s best to speak with a family law attorney who can help determine where you stand financially.
4. Initiate a petition for divorce in Wisconsin
Once you’re comfortable moving forward, the first official step of initiating a divorce is filing a petition for divorce.
Each county has its own local rules for processing divorce cases. Click here to find your county’s petition forms online using the Wisconsin Court System’s form assistant. Either party may initiate a divorce by filing the petition for divorce in their corresponding county.
Be aware that you or your spouse must have resided in Wisconsin for six months and the county in which they wish to file for 30 days before commencement of the action to file.
Once a petition is filed, it along with a Summons must be served on the other party within 20 days. At that point, the other party then has 20 days from the date of service to file a response or a counterclaim. Each state has different laws governing the serving of the petition and it must be delivered to meet strict requirements. It’s important to contact an experienced family law attorney to ensure service is done right in order for the divorce to proceed.
Want to learn which documents you’ll need to gather and complete during the divorce process? Read our other post: What Documents Will I Need for My Divorce in Wisconsin?
f you need assistance preparing for divorce or have questions about Wisconsin’s divorce process, contact an experienced Family Law Attorney in Beloit and Madison today. Click here for a free consultation with the Fitzgerald law Firm.
At The Fitzgerald Law Firm your initial consultation is always free and you will always meet directly with one of our attorneys. We understand that appointments during traditional working hours may not be convenient for all, and thus we strive to be available for evening, weekend, and off-site appointments. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.