Wisconsin Divorce: A Guide

Key information you should know about divorce in Wisconsin.

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What are the grounds for divorce in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is a purely "no-fault" divorce state. This means that you cannot allege that your spouse's wrongdoing was the cause of the divorce; instead, most divorces are based on the grounds that the parties have irreconcilable differences that have led to the breakdown of the marriage, or you can base your divorce on the fact that you've been separated from your spouse for at least 12 months. Fault may however be considered by the court as a factor in dividing property or awarding alimony. To learn more about how Wisoconsin uses fault as a determining factor in alimony and property issues, see Nolo's Essential Guide to Divorce, by Emily Doskow (Nolo).

What is the residency requirement for divorce in Wisconsin?

At least one spouse must be a resident of Wisconsin for six months before filing for divorce.

How is property divided at divorce in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is a community property state. This means that any income earned by either spouse during the marriage, and all property bought with those earnings, are considered marital property that is owned equally by each spouse or partner. At divorce, the property is divided equally between the spouses or partners.

However, in Wisconsin, the judge will start with a presumption that property will be divided equally, and then listens to arguments from both spouses about why a different division is fairer.

What are the rules about child custody in Wisconsin?

Like all states, Wisconsin courts begin with a presumption that it's best for a child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after a divorce. If possible, judges want to support joint custody arrangements. However, the exact nature of the time-share will be determined by the children's best interests. For more information, see Nolo's article Child Custody FAQ.

What are the rules about child support in Wisconsin?

Like all states, Wisconsin requires both parents to support their children, even after a divorce. The amount of child support depends primarily on each parent's income and other resources, and how much time each parent spends with the children. In addition, sometimes the courts will "impute" income to a parent who has the capacity to earn more than he or she actually is earning. To learn more about child support, see Nolo's Child Support area.

Does Wisconsin have resources for do-it-yourself divorce?

Yes. You can usually get fill-in-the-blank forms at your local courthouse or the local law library. And you can go to this online resource for Wisconsin, where you'll find extensive information about do-it-yourself divorce, along with court forms (in some states)..

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