Attorney Christopher Drosen
(414) 259-9300

Divorce in the State of Wisconsin

Step One: Commencement

A divorce in the State of Wisconsin begins when one party (the " petitioner") has divorce documents (the "pleadings") served upon the non-moving party (the "respondent"). The respondent receives the pleadings either in the mail or via private process server or sheriff. How the other party receives the pleadings will often set the tone as to how the petitioner would like to proceed. If the petitioner sends the pleadings in the mail, the petitioner maybe indicating a willingness to work through this matter in a cooperative manner.  If the petitioner has the pleadings served on the respondent at his or her place of employment by a sheriff's deputy, it may be an indication that collaboration may not be on the horizon.

Step Two: Response

After you receive pleadings, contact Schmidlkofer, Toth, Loeb & Drosen, LLC for a free no obligation consultation. You have options. It's best to know what your options are prior to proceeding so that you can move forward in a manner which is most comfortable for you and best addresses you desired outcome.

"But I don’t want nor am I asking for divorce. Do I have to get one?" It's very common for one party to reject the notion of getting a divorce. Unfortunately, the state of Wisconsin is a “no fault divorce” state. What this means is that the Court will not force a party to be married if he or she does not want to be.   Further, the Court will not force either party to testify as to why they do or do not deserve to be divorced and will not force you or your spouse to go to counseling or other therapy to potentially remedy any marital disagreements.

Step Three:  The Process

Locally, the law allows you to proceed in a traditional, cooperative or collaborative manner (please note that not all counties and in some counties, not all Judges allow for parties to move forward in a formally "collaborative" manner). The process which is utilized will dictate how the parties interact, how quickly the process gets underway, how the two attorneys communicate and how likely it will be that the parties will end up in court. Call Drosen, Wandt and Rustad to discuss your situation in detail and to determine what process best addresses your situation.

Step Four:  The Waiting Period

While almost every party to divorce would prefer for the process to be done as quickly as possible, the State of Wisconsin prohibits people from rushing through the process by implementing a mandatory waiting period. While under very unusual circumstances the waiting period can be waived or shortened, for the average person the waiting period between  date of service on the respondent (or admission of service) and earliest date for concluding the matter is a duration of 120 days. While this might seem unfair to someone anxious to move on with his or her life, the public policy implication is that the courts, politicians and society as a whole does not want people making erroneous decisions when it comes to their marriage with another.

"Do most divorces take about 120 days?"  No.  As you'd imagine, going through a divorce, regardless of the process utilized, is difficult. The parties often don't trust each other, their communication breaks down, minor problems may be blown out of proportion and there may be unwillingness by one party to move forward with the divorce. It is for these reasons that the average divorce takes longer than 120 days. Believe it or not, many people deliberately drag their feet in a divorce with the hope that their spouse will change his or her mind and call the divorce off!

Step Five: Temporary Order

During the waiting period, one or more of the parties may be concerned as to how bills will be paid, when each party will see the minor children and who will have use of the parties various assets. In such an event, and Order to Show Cause Hearing could potentially be scheduled before a court commissioner for the purpose of implementing a Temporary Order to dictate what the petitioner and respondent will do during the waiting period.

Step Six: Divorce Trial versus Stipulated Divorce Hearing

"Do most divorces end with an expensive, time-consuming divorce trial?" No. The waiting period discussed above often affords the parties the ability to become accepting of the fact that a divorce is probably going to occur and that it is in both parties best interest to reach an agreement relative all necessary facts rather than have their case decided by a judge who doesn't know them, doesn't know their needs, and may never see them again. It is for this very reason that the vast majority of divorces conclude with a stipulated divorce hearing which on average lasts between 15 and 30 minutes rather than a divorce trial which can last between a few hours and over a week depending on the outstanding issues.

The foregoing is for informative purposes and should not under any circumstances be viewed as legal advice. PLEASE CONTACT A LAWYER TO DISCUSS YOUR UNIQUE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Attorney Christopher Drosen.  All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution.  All Copies must include this copyright statement.

Located in West Allis, Wisconsin, Schmidlkofer, Toth, Loeb & Drosen, LLC proudly serves the entire greater Milwaukee area including Waukesha, West Bend, Brookfield, Elm Grove, Mukwonago, Muskego, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, New Berlin, Bay View, Franklin, Greenfield, Greendale, West Allis, Whitefish Bay, Shorewood, River Hills, Bayside, Mequon, Thiensville, Germantown, Sussex, Menomonee Falls, Hartland, Delafield. We serve Milwaukee County, Waukesha County, Washington County and Ozaukee County.

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