Take advantage of state and county online resources
Also see “Divorce in Wisconsin” for general information on state laws and other online resources.
Addressing grief, dealing with domestic abuse
Experts tell us divorce (dissolution of marriage) can be one of the most painful events humans experience, comparable to a death in the family. Accordingly, if you’re contemplating the end of a marriage, you should also consider counseling or grief therapy.
Another thing experts recommend is that if domestic violence is part of the equation, it should be addressed immediately; online resources include:
- Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence;
- Domestic Violence in Wisconsin: An Overview of Criminal Justice and Training Issues;
- A.A.R.D.V.A.R.K.’s statewide resources page;
- Wisconsin Domestic Abuse Statute;
- Department of Justice referral page;
- City of Milwaukee Injury & Violence Prevention;
- Sojourner Family Peace Center;
- Milwaukee Women’s Center.
Attorney not required, but suggested
On the Milwaukee County courts’ site, in response to the question, “Do I need a lawyer to file for divorce,” the courts’ answer is “There is no requirement that you must hire an attorney in order to file for divorce. Many people handle their own divorce,[although] lawyers have the training and experience to best present your case.”
Highlights from county FAQ
More Q & A info is as follows:
Q: How do I know what county to file for divorce in? Is it where I got married?
A: Generally, you file for divorce in the county in which you are a legal resident. To file for a divorce in Milwaukee County, one party must have lived in the State of Wisconsin for six months prior to the time the divorce is filed and in MilwaukeeCounty for at least thirty days before filing for divorce.
Q: What’s the difference between legal separation, annulment, and divorce?
A: Legal Separation: A legal proceeding that separates the parties’ property and finances, and makes custody and placement orders regarding children, but continues their marriage. Legal separation is an alternative for people who wish to avoid divorce for religious or other reasons.
Annulment: Dissolves a marriage that was invalid from the beginning. A marriage may qualify for annulment only if it satisfies very limited statutory circumstances. See Wis. Stat. §767.03.
Divorce: A legal proceeding to dissolve an irretrievably broken marriage.
Q: What if I don’t want a divorce? Is there anything I can do to stop it?
A: The only basis for divorce in Wisconsin is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” This means the husband and wife can find no way to work out their differences. A judge usually will find a marriage irretrievably broken even if only one spouse wants a divorce.
Other online resources include:
- Divorce page at Wisconsin State Law Library;
- Basic Guide to Divorce/Legal Separation: Milwaukee County.
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