How to File for Divorce in Wisconsin
It is usually a difficult decision for spouses to divorce. You should be aware of how to file for divorce in Wisconsin before you begin the process of filing. This guide will give you a basic overview of Wisconsin's divorce filing procedure.
1) Verify Your Eligibility
In order to file for divorce in Wisconsin, you must meet residency requirements. You or your spouse must have been a Wisconsin resident for six months, and one spouse must have lived in the county where the divorce is filed for at least 30 days.
2) Fill Out and File Divorce Papers
The next step to file for divorce in Wisconsin is to actually complete a divorce complaint. Divorce complaints are legal documents that specify the grounds for the divorce and the relief that the filing spouse is requesting from the court. In Wisconsin, the grounds for divorce are always “no-fault,” stemming from either a 12-month separation or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
When you are requesting relief while you file for divorce in Wisconsin, you may ask for anything that you see as reasonable. You may wish to ask for alimony, child support, to switch back to your maiden name, or even to obtain an order of protection that keeps an abusive spouse away from you physically.
3) Serve Your Spouse
Your spouse must be given notice that divorce papers have been filed, and this notice must, by law, be delivered via specific, official channels. Typically, divorce papers will be served by a process server or the sheriff's office after you file for divorce in Wisconsin.
If your spouse lives in another state, you may send a copy of the complaint via certified mail to their current address. If you do not know their address and cannot find your spouse after a search, you can request that the judge in your case allow you to serve your spouse via publication in a newspaper. Since most people who file for divorce in Wisconsin know the whereabouts of their spouse, this method is less commonly used than others.
4) Get Counseling or Mediation
In many cases, Wisconsin courts will order you to counseling or mediation before you have a court date for a trial. The judge in your case is required to notify you that counseling is available, and will order families into counseling if there is a custody dispute or if joint custody has been requested by either parent.
Mediation or counseling may allow you to develop a divorce settlement after you file for divorce in Wisconsin. Divorce settlements allow spouses to complete the divorce process substantially more quickly and easily than going to trial.
5) Go to Court
If you cannot arrive at a settlement, you will be notified of a court date when your trial will take place. Most couples choose to settle their divorce rather than having an expensive, adversarial trial. If you and your spouse choose to go to trial, your divorce will only be finalized after the trial is over and the judge has issued a divorce order.