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Frequently asked questions:


Do I need an attorney?

In general, it is a good idea to consult an attorney. While a simple divorce can be accomplished without an attorney, you may need an attorney to help you recognize issues that might be important in reaching a fair and equitable result.

Are there any restrictions on filing for a divorce in Wisconsin?

You or your spouse must be a Wisconsin resident for a least six months and in a particular county for at least thirty days before you can file for a divorce in Wisconsin.

How is a divorce filed?

A divorce begins like every other law suit with the filing of a Summons. The Summons is filed along with a Petition for divorce and a filing fee must be paid. After they are filed with the Clerk of Court in your county, the Summons and Petition must be personally served on your spouse. This starts the legal process.

Then what?

A temporary hearing called an OTSC hearing will be held, usually in front of a Family Court Commissioner to set the ground rules for how you will handle your income and debts while the divorce is pending as well as child support, maintenance, living arrangements and temporary custody arrangements. This hearing usually occurs within a couple of weeks after you have filed the initial divorce papers. You should have financial information available for your attorney to use at this hearing.

While this hearing is referred to as a temporary hearing, it is very important. It often establishes the rules for a divorce which ultimately find their way into a final order at the conclusion.

What happens after the OTCS hearing?

There are usually several issues to be dealt with in preparing for a final divorce hearing. These include custody and physical placement of children, maintenance, child support and the division of assets. It is to your benefit, if at all possible to try to reach an agreement on all of these issues prior to your final hearing. Your attorney can help to guide you in these negotiations and take steps to ensure that you have all the information you will need to make these decisions.

You may be required to attend mediation sessions if there is an issue over the custody and physical placement of your children. An attorney will be appointed by the court to represent the interests of your children independently of the attorneys representing your and your spouse. All parties should avoid a battle over children at all costs as it produces wounds for everyone involved that never heal.

If you come to an agreement on all the issues presented in your case, the next hearing will become a Stipulated Divorce hearing. Your attorneys will present the agreement to the Judge and, in most cases, the Judge will make a finding that it is fair and grant the divorce.

If you cannot come to an agreement, the hearing becomes a pretrial conference to discuss the open issues and set a date for a trial for a Judge to make the decision.

After the divorce?

You must learn to live within the requirements of your divorce order. If you have children from that marriage, you are still a parent. You must wait at least six months to remarry.

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