Thorpe & Christian, S.C. – Attorneys at Law

(262) 740-1971

9 Key Questions Regarding Divorce

Facing divorce can be an emotional, stressful, and difficult time for everyone involved. Choosing a lawyer you trust to act on your behalf can make the process easier to complete. Attorney Lindsey M. White answers some key questions regarding divorce.

What are the different steps involved in a divorce and how long might they take?

First step: File the initial pleadings with the clerk of court.
Second step: Serve the other party.
Third step: File a financial disclosure statement stating all income, assets, and debt.
Fourth step: Appear for the temporary hearing date.
Fifth step: Begin the negotiations. If negotiations are successful, a Marital Settlement Agreement will be filed with the court prior to the final hearing. If negotiations fail, the remaining issues will be set for trial.
Under Wisconsin law, there is a 120-day waiting period after the action has been filed. Your final hearing will not be scheduled earlier than 120 days from the date that the initial pleadings have been filed with the clerk of circuit court.

Wisconsin is a no-fault state. What does that mean?

It doesn’t matter why you are getting divorced. The court is only concerned with how to divide the marital estate and determine an appropriate custody, placement, and child support order for the children.

What do I do if I am served with divorce papers?

If you are served with divorce papers, you are now the respondent. By hiring an attorney, your attorney will respond to the pleadings for you and state your position and/or dispute any incorrect statements. You may respond on your own, pro se. You are required to appear at the hearing.

What if I don't want a divorce?

Although divorce is often unwanted by one party, Wisconsin law only requires that the respondent have notice of the hearing in order to proceed with the divorce. The divorce will be granted so long as one party shows up. If you fail to attend court hearings, it will likely result in a default judgment awarding the petitioner anything he/she is asking for. It is not in your best interest.

How do I support myself or see my children while the divorce is pending?

The court will give a temporary order at your first hearing. This order will provide clarification and instruct the parties how the bills will be divided and a placement schedule for each parent, on a temporary basis.

How is mediation used in child custody?

Legal custody means decision-making ability for the children ie: joining the military before 18, medical decisions, access to school records, etc. There is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of the children, unless proven otherwise. Placement is where the children will live. Parties will likely be ordered to mediation where they will attempt to work out a placement schedule for the children.  It is the court’s intention to keep the children’s lives as normal as possible, with the least disruption. It is beneficial to compromise because this allows the parties to have some control as to what happens. If the parties cannot agree, the court will make the decision for the parties.

Am I required to attend a parental education program?

Yes. It will be court ordered.

How is child support determined?

There is a statutory percentage guideline depending on the number of children.

How is maintenance (alimony) determined?

There are several factors that the court will use to determine if maintenance is appropriate. The length of the marriage and the “need” for maintenance are a couple of them.

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