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UNDERSTANDING DIVORCE IN WISCONSIN

Wisconsin is one of 17 states and the District of Columbia that permit only no-fault divorce.

Here are the key elements of a Wisconsin divorce:

Grounds for Divorce

The appropriate lawful ground is one the spouses agree to and can substantiate or one the filing spouse proves in court.

Wisconsin is a no-fault only divorce state. The court grants a divorce when both spouses swear that their marriage is irretrievably broken, or when one lives apart for 12 or more months and affirms that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Residency

One of the spouses must be a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county of filing for at least 30 days.

Divorce Process

The petitioner makes three copies of all the divorce paperwork - the Summons, Petition and Confidential Addendum. He or she pays a filing fee and keeps one copy, gives one copy to the respondent, and files one with the clerk who assigns the paperwork a case number.

Wisconsin online divorce process If the marriage has no children, the petitioner completes a Summons, Petition and Confidential Addendum for an action without children. If the marriage has children, the petitioner completes the forms for marriages with children. In both cases, the parties prepare a Financial Disclosure Statement, which details each spouse's financial position. Here is more information regarding the process of filing uncontested divorce papers in Wisconsin.

The petitioner arranges service of process on the respondent. A hearing will not be scheduled until 120 days after service of process or 120 days after the filing of a joint petition. The court may or may not hold a hearing, but the divorce cannot be make final until after 120 days.

A Wisconsin uncontested divorce moves more rapidly and cost less than contested actions which require greater expense and court time. Learn the best ways to save money when doing your own divorce in Wisconsin.

Do It Yourself Divorce in Wisconsin

Our service makes it easy to file for an uncontested divorce in the state of Wisconsin. In as little as 20 minutes you can have all your completed divorce forms and filing instructions ready for signing and filing. Instantly access your completed divorce forms after a short online interview. It is that easy, no lengthy completion or delivery times. See if you qualify below:

Property Division

Wisconsin is a community property state. The courts accept any fair and reasonable division the spouses reach, and the state uses a dual classification to divide property as community and separate.

Except for an inheritance, gift or property owned before the marriage, all property acquired during the marriage is community. The appreciation of separate property is separate.

In dividing property, the court generally does not consider marital misconduct, but economic misconduct - such as gambling away marital assets, for example - may result in off setting compensation to the victim spouse.

When couples cannot agree on a fair and equitable solution, courts consider "all relevant factors, including "the contribution of each party to the marriage, giving appropriate economic value to each party's contribution and child care services"; "the nature and extent of separate property"; "whether one of the parties has substantial assets not subject to division by the court "; and "such other factor as the court may in each individual case determine to be relevant."

In dividing property, the court classifies assets and liabilities as marital or separate, places a value on assets and debts, and then makes an assignment. In dividing property, the court considers the parties' age and health, contributions to the marriage and economic circumstances and tax consequences.

As in other jurisdictions, divorcing couples normally sell the marital home and divide the profits, or sell the home to one party and refinance, or the custodial parent occupies the house until the last child leaves school and then sell it.

Retirement benefits are marital property and when the worker meets all the requirements for payout, they are called vested. The plans are either Defined Contribution Plans (DC), such as a 401(k), or Defined Benefit Plans (DB), which is the company pension. That part of a pension accumulated during a marriage is community property and subject to distribution. When spouses share in each other's pension plan, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be prepared. The QDRO spells out the terms and conditions of the pension distribution.

Alimony

The court grants alimony to either spouse for a duration and in an amount that it considers fair based on all relevant factors, including the length of the marriage and the financial situation of the parties. The court can consider any factors it deems relevant in awarding alimony, but duration of the marriage is an important factor.

Marital fault is not a consideration. Generally the spouse who has forgone an education or career to support children is eligible, and courts generally order temporary, short- or long-term depending on the needs of the recipient.

In considering alimony, the courts consider rehabilitation, standard of living while married, length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties and the "feasibility that the party seeking maintenance can become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonable comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage, and the length of time necessary to achieve that goal" in addition to a number of other factors.

Courts entertain motions from either party to modify alimony in the case of a "substantial change in circumstances." A job loss or a serious health problem is a substantial change.

Child Custody

In Wisconsin, the best interest of the child is the primary concern in child custody and that can mean joint or sole custody. In deciding this, the court considers each parent's wishes; the child's relationship with his or her parents; the child's adjustment to his or her home and school, and the mental and physical health of both parents.

Courts permit a variety of custody regimes, but evaluate 12 in deciding custody and consider whether joint custody is workable. One or both parents may be given either legal or physical custody, but when both parents can work together, the Wisconsin divorce court normally awards both parents shared custody.

Divorcing parents with minor children may be required to complete a parenting class unless the court waives this requirement.

Sometimes a third party, such as grandparents, may be awarded custody when the court determines that both parents are detrimental to the best interests of the child. If the court determines that the biological parents are detrimental (for example, the parents are sex offenders), they may be granted supervised visitation.

Wisconsin strives for both parents to share custody of a child. Joint custody gives both parents equal right and responsibilities.

Courts enjoy wide latitude in determining visitation. The court may order supervised visitation when the court has reservations about the child's safety with one parent alone.

Courts modify custody routines only when the party seeking modification can prove that it is in the best interest of the child.

Child Support

Courts consider 14 factors in deciding child support, but rely on the percent of parental income to fix the amount. In the percent of income model, the noncustodial parent of one child pays 17 percent of his or her gross pay to the custodial parent, up to 34 percent for five or more children. The official child support guidelines are used unless the parents agree to a different amount approved by the court, or the courts determine the guidelines produce an unjust result.

The courts may order a slacker to find employment and base his or her support payments on imputed income. Courts sometimes send deadbeat parents to jail.

Wisconsin allows for low-income and high-income exceptions - at the low end, for those who earn 75 percent to 125 percent of the poverty guidelines, to as low as 11.13 percent for one child; and at the high end, an exemption for a parent making $7,000 per month or more, to as low as 14 percent for one child and up to 27 percent for four or more children.

Sometimes, after calculating support, courts permit adjustments up or down that are called deviation factors. Courts may consider extraordinary expenses, independent income, seasonal fluctuation in parents' income, special needs as well "any other reason that should be considered to make child support more equitable." Likewise, extraordinary expenses can be either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment paid by the noncustodial parent, or a deduction, where it is subtracted.

A parent may be ordered to include a child on medical insurance, particularly when the visiting parent receives health insurance.

Courts order temporary child support during custody and support actions, and either parent may be order to pay.

Service of Process

In a Wisconsin divorce, a process server does not have to be licensed and can be anyone not a party to the action but authorized by the county court.

Wisconsin uses four different service routines: personal service with the Petition, personal service with no Petition, no personal service, Petition served at the same time and no personal service and Petition not served the same time.

A party is considered personally served when he or she receives the Summons personally. Leaving a copy of the divorce papers at the defendant's home with a mature person may also effect service.

In a divorce, the server delivers the Summons and Petition to the defendant, and completes an Affidavit of Service that identified the recipient, time, address and manner of service.

When a spouse is missing, service by publication permits constructive notice, which, after a diligent search, permits publication of the action for three successive weeks in a newspaper.

A Simple Divorce Process
Step 1 See if you qualify & create account!
Step 2 Answer the questions at your own pace.
Step 3 Print, sign and file your divorce forms with your local court (instantly review & print your forms online or have them sent US Priority Mail at no additional charge).

START HERE

Only $299 (flat-fee)

or 2 monthly payments of $157
or 3 monthly payments of $109
or 4 monthly payments of $84
Payment Options Do Not Delay Divorce
Instant Delivery - Instant Changes
100% Guarantee of Court Approval
or Your Money Back
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Disclaimer: This is a quality non-lawyer self-help divorce solution. The 3StepDivorceTM Documentation software and service is not a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. 3 Step Solutions, LLC does not practice law and does not give out legal advice. This software and service allows you to represent yourself in doing your own divorce. If you need or desire legal representation, we recommend that you hire a lawyer. Click here to learn more. There may also be other pro se divorce options available by contacting your court.
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