FAQs for your Wausau Divorce Lawyer
To start a divorce, your Wausau divorce lawyer will file a Summons and Petition for Divorce with the Clerk of Court. Your spouse must be served with this Summons and Petition for Divorce within 60 days after you file. There are two ways you can serve papers on your spouse: (1) Your spouse can sign an Admission of Service or (2) a process server or police department/sheriff’s department can serve the papers. An alternate method of initiating a divorce is for both spouses to sign a Joint Petition for Divorce. This eliminates the service requirement. Your Wausau divorce lawyer can provide more information on beginning the divorce process.
In order to file for divorce in Wisconsin, one party — either you or your spouse — must (1) reside in the county in which the action is being filed for thirty days; and (2) reside in Wisconsin for at least six months. You can, however, file for Legal Separation after residing in Wisconsin for only 30 days. The legal separation can later be changed to a divorce. Your Wausau divorce lawyer can advise you as to your filing options.
You must file a written Answer within 20 days from the date you are served with the Summons and Petition for Divorce. This must be sent to the Court with a copy sent to your spouse or his or her attorney. If your spouse has filed for divorce, a Wausau divorce lawyer can advise you how to respond.
In Wisconsin, with limited exceptions, a final hearing cannot be held for a minimum of 120 days after the date of service of the divorce petition. However, the divorce process may, in fact, last much longer depending on the complexities of the case.
Since the divorce process may span many months, either party may schedule a “temporary hearing” in order to resolve urgent issues on a temporary basis such as the issues of temporary custody, physical placement, child support, spousal maintenance, and payment of debt. Temporary orders remain in effect until the divorce is finalized.
A Court Commissioner will generally preside at a temporary hearing. The Court Commissioner is essentially an assistant judge with authority to make orders in the divorce on a “temporary basis.”
Temporary orders are not supposed to have “precedential” value at the final hearing. Unfortunately, that is not always the case in practice. A party that receives a favorable temporary order may have obtained a significant strategic advantage over the other party at the time of the final hearing. Legal representation at such a proceeding is strongly advised.
Any decision that is made by a Family Court Commissioner may be re-tried to a judge of the circuit court upon motion of either party.
Generally, all property brought into and/or acquired during the marriage, regardless of how titled, is subject to division upon divorce. This includes assets such as pension plans, retirement accounts, vehicles, and real estate. Property acquired by gift or inheritance is generally not subject to division.
The court presumes that divisible property is to be divided equally between the parties, but can deviate from an equal division of property after considering factors such as the length of the marriage; property brought to the marriage by each party; and the tax consequences to each party.
The debts of the parties will also be allocated between the parties, but the divorce judgment assigning a debt is not binding on third-party creditors. If the parties are able, they may be required to refinance the debts allocated to them after the divorce.
After a divorce is granted in Wisconsin, the parties are required to wait six months before remarrying, even if the subsequent marriage takes place in another state.
There is no legal requirement that you hire a Wausau divorce lawyer for your divorce. In deciding whether or not you need representation, remember:
- If your spouse hired a Wausau divorce lawyer to “write up the papers,” that lawyer does not represent you and will only be looking out for your spouse’s interests.
- Having a Wausau divorce lawyer to represent your interests is particularly important if you have been married for a number of years, have children together, or have substantial assets or debts.
- Trying to “save” money by not having a Wausau divorce lawyer may end up costing you more in the end.