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What is the process for filing for divorce in Wisconsin?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Divorce |

Filing for divorce can be a difficult and emotional decision. In Wisconsin, the process involves several steps to ensure a fair and legal dissolution of marriage. 

Understanding these steps can help you navigate the process more smoothly.

Understanding residency requirements

Before filing for divorce, one must meet Wisconsin’s residency requirements. Either spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months and in the county where the divorce is filed for at least 30 days. Meeting these requirements is necessary for the court to accept the divorce petition.

Filing the divorce petition

The divorce process begins with filing a Petition for Divorce. This document outlines the request for the dissolution of marriage and includes information about children, property, and any other relevant issues. The petitioner files this form with the Clerk of Court in the county of residence and pays a filing fee. The court assigns a case number and schedules an initial hearing.

Serving the divorce papers

After filing the petition, the petitioner must serve the other spouse with divorce papers. This step ensures that the other spouse is aware of the divorce proceedings. Service can be by a sheriff’s deputy, a private process server, or an adult who is not a party to the case. You must file proof of service with the court to proceed with the case.

Responding to the petition

The served spouse, known as the respondent, has 20 days to file a Response and Counterclaim. This document allows the respondent to agree or disagree with the petition and to present their terms for the divorce. If the respondent does not file a response, the court may grant a default judgment in favor of the petitioner.

Attending hearings and mediation

Both spouses must attend scheduled court hearings. The court may also require mediation to resolve disputes over property division, child custody, and support. Mediation helps spouses reach an agreement without a trial.

Finalizing the divorce

If both parties reach an agreement, they present it to the court for approval. The judge reviews the agreement to ensure it is fair and in accordance with Wisconsin law. If approved, the judge issues a final divorce decree. If no agreement is reached, the case goes to trial, and the judge makes the final decisions.

Moving forward

Divorce can be a challenging process, but understanding each step can help you manage expectations and reduce stress. Following the legal procedures ensures a smoother transition to the next chapter of life.



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