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Divorce in Wisconsin

If your marriage has come to an end—or is "irretrievably broken," in the eyes of Wisconsin law—then you need to bring it to a legal end. A Wisconsin divorce attorney can guide you through the process, ensuring that you're treated fairly along the way.

Divorce, Annulment or Legal Separation?

In Wisconsin, there are three ways to end a marriage. Most people are familiar with divorce, but you can also seek to have the marriage annulled or you can get a legal separation.

When you get an annulment, the court is actually saying that your marriage was never valid. Since the marriage wasn't legally permissible, no divorce is necessary. A legal separation allows you to divide property, reach child custody and support agreements, and determine alimony, but neither party can legally remarry. After a year, either party can ask the court to convert the separation into a divorce. If the parties reconcile, the court can revoke the separation agreement.

Residency Requirements

Before you can legally file for divorce in Wisconsin, you must have been a state resident for at least six months and a county resident for at least 30 days.

Filing Requirements

You and your Wisconsin divorce lawyer must file a petition for divorce with the Wisconsin Circuit Court in your county to begin the divorce process. You'll also file a summons, which notifies your spouse that he or she has 20 days to respond to your petition.

Waiting Periods

It typically takes at least four months to finalize a divorce, though in complicated situations or if the spouses disagree on issues such as property division, child custody and alimony payments, it may take more time. Additionally, you must wait at least six months from the day your divorce is finalized before you can remarry.


A judge may order one spouse to pay alimony (also known as maintenance or spousal support) to the other spouse. In determining whether to award alimony, the judge will look at a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, each person's earning potential and ability to re-enter the workforce.

Property Division

In Wisconsin, property and debts should be divided "equitably," though that doesn't necessarily mean the property is divided into equal halves. Inheritances and gifts are not necessarily included in the property division. A judge will rule on property division if you, your spouse and your Wisconsin divorce attorneys cannot reach an agreement.

Wisconsin Child Custody & Child Support

If you and your spouse have minor children together, you'll also have to negotiate a child custody agreement. In Wisconsin, legal custody refers to which parent has responsibility for making major decisions affecting a child, and the custody may be sole or shared. Physical placement refers to how the child's time is divided between the two parents.

Both parents are also expected to contribute to the financial costs of raising a child. In awarding child support, the judge will look at each parent's income, how the child's time is divided between the two parents and how many other children each parent is supporting.

Find & Hire a Wisconsin Divorce Lawyer

As soon as you start considering divorce, you should hire a Wisconsin divorce lawyer. Your attorney can guide you through the process and even advise you on the steps to take when telling your spouse that you'd like a divorce.

If you need assistance, can help you locate a local Wisconsin divorce lawyer. Whether you live in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay or elsewhere in the state, we can quickly match you with an attorney in your area. Call us at 877-913-7222 or fill out the form on this page to get started.