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Is Wisconsin a no fault and community property state?

If you are a Wisconsin resident contemplating divorce, you probably are wondering if Wisconsin is a no fault divorce state. As FindLaw explains, the answer is yes. Per Section 767 of the Wisconsin Code, we are a no fault state, meaning that the only thing you need to state in your divorce petition is that your marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown.”

An irretrievable breakdown means that you and your spouse are unable to get along with each other and will not be able to do so in the future. Neither of you needs to allege that the other spouse did anything wrong; i.e., that he or she was at fault for the breakdown. However, unless you and your spouse have been separated and living apart for the past 12 months, both of you must agree that the marriage has, in fact, reached the irretrievable breakdown point. If you do not agree, the court may insist that you both receive marriage counseling and refuse to hear your divorce case for 30-60 days while you do so.

Community property

In addition to being a no fault state, Wisconsin also is a community property state. What this means is that all property, assets, earnings and debts that you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage are considered to belong to both of you, regardless of whose earnings paid for them and regardless of whose credit card or loan is responsible for the debts. Some property, however, is considered to be your separate property, such as the following:

  • Anything you had before you were married
  • Any gifts you have received during the marriage, such as birthday and Christmas gifts
  • Any inheritances you have received
  • Any family heirlooms that have been passed down through your family
  • Anything that your prenuptial agreement, if you have one, specifies as your separate property

When you divorce, your separate property will go to you. The community property will be divided between you and your spouse equally unless you can prove special circumstances whereby a different distribution should take place. This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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