Wisconsin Divorce Laws - What You Need to Know!

If you're getting divorced, you may feel like the fault lies with your spouse. Perhaps your spouse was not faithful to you, or perhaps he or she has taken action that hurt your family —- such as excessively wasting all of the family's money. Perhaps you simply do not get along like you used to, and you blame your spouse for your overall unhappiness.

While these reasons are all real to you, the state of Wisconsin does not recognize them. It is a no-fault state, which means that your divorce papers cannot accuse your spouse of anything or blame him or her. The split is seen as something that you want as a couple. The most commonly-cited reason for divorce, then, is the presence of irreconcilable differences.

There is one other reason that you can file: a long-term separation. If you have been split up while still married for a year or more, you can file based on that time apart.

Residency Restrictions

As is fairly standard from one state to the next, you have to pass residency restrictions, which means that one of you must have lived in the state for a set amount of time before filing. The timeframe established for Wisconsin is six months.

Child Custody

Unless it has been demonstrated that one parent should not be involved in a child's life, the court will always seek joint custody arrangements. This is because the law considers these situations better for the child, and the child's interests are put at the forefront, ahead of the interests of the parents. Sole custody can also be requested, though, if there is a reason to support it.

Child Support Decisions

When determining child support, the court will first look at how much money is needed to support the child, based on income levels and needs. It will then determine how much support is being given by the spouse with custody; even in joint custody situations, the timeshare may favor one spouse. The amount that each spouse makes will also be taken into account. Then, the court will determine how much the spouse who makes more must pay.

Think of it this way: If you and your spouse together made $100,000, then the child is expected to be supported at that level, as he or she would have been if the divorce had not happened. However, if your spouse made $80,000 of that and you only made $20,000, he or she will generally have to pay support to make up the difference. You will not have to pay the same amount since the percentages of total income would then be seriously skewed. If you have custody, the amount that you are paid could go up since you will naturally cover costs for things like food or lodging.

Community Property in Wisconsin

The final thing that you must know about divorce in Wisconsin is that community property laws are in effect. The money, assets, wealth and possessions that you and your spouse have accumulated since your wedding day are considered to belong 50 percent to you and 50 percent to your spouse. This is true even if you paid for them or your spouse did; since you were together, they belong to you both, and they will be split up roughly equally. However, it is possible to ask for a different division if you would like, though the judge will need to grant it.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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