Getting divorced is not a personal failure. Divorce is a tool an individual can use to get out of an unhealthy marriage with his or her fair share of marital assets.
If you feel your marriage is no longer a healthy one, start educating yourself about the divorce process in Wisconsin. Getting divorced is a big step but often, it is the right step. You can make the divorce process easier for yourself, your spouse, and your children by understanding the process and preparing for the changes it will bring.
Every state maintains different rules and procedures for couples seeking divorce. To file for divorce in Wisconsin, an individual or his or her spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months and the county where they file for the divorce for at least 30 days. After one party files a divorce petition, the court may schedule their divorce hearing 120 days after the other spouse is served with a summons or the couple’s joint petition for divorce expires.
Divorces are handled by county circuit courts. Oshkosh couples’ divorces are handled by the Winnebago County Clerk of Courts.
Wisconsin courts no longer recognize grounds for divorce. Rather, every divorce filed in Wisconsin is a “no fault” divorce, which means the couple only has to state that they have faced irreconcilable differences in their marriage that drove them apart.
Wisconsin is a community property state. This means that when a couple divorces, their marital property is divided 50/50.
Marital property is the property the couple accrued during their marriage. Often, this means their home, their joint bank accounts, and any additional assets they own together, such as vehicles, investments, and property. It also means the debts they accrued during their marriage, such as business and student debt.
Assets that the individuals owned prior to entering the marriage are known as separate property. Additionally, items an individual obtains during his or her marriage through inheritance or as gifts are separate property. Separate property can become marital property through a process known as commingling. For example, if an individual owned a home before getting married, the home would technically be separate property. But if the home’s value as an asset grew during the couple’s marriage through both partners’ financial efforts toward paying its mortgage and the improvements the couple made to the home, it is subject to division in their divorce.
One way a couple can manage which assets are separate and which are marital assets is to draft a prenuptial agreement before they marry. In this document, they can designate specific assets, such as all student debt, as separate assets. This can make it easier for them to divide their property in the event of a divorce.
When a divorcing couple has minor children, child custody and child support are part of their divorce settlement. Child custody is divided into two parts: legal custody, the right to make decisions on a child’s behalf, and physical custody, the role of providing the child with a place to live. Both types of custody may be held jointly between the parents or solely by one. The court may even determine that sole custody in one category and joint custody in the other, such as an arrangement where the parents have joint physical custody but one parent has sole legal custody of their child, is in the child’s best interest.
Child support is the money one parent pays to the other to help cover the costs of raising their children. These costs include housing costs, groceries and household needs, and the child’s personal needs like school supplies and extracurricular activities. In Wisconsin, child support is calculated according to the non-custodial parent’s gross monthly income and the number of children on the child support order.
If one spouse sacrificed his or her career to take care of the couple’s home and children, he or she may be entitled to spousal maintenance in their divorce. Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a financial safety net meant to protect the lesser earning spouse from financial hardship after a divorce.
Wisconsin courts do not create spousal maintenance orders with a specific formula. Rather, they consider a set of factors about a couple to determine an appropriate amount of spousal maintenance and an appropriate period of time for the order to last. These factors include:
In addition to educating yourself about the divorce process, you can prepare for your divorce by making financial adjustments and creating a budget. Getting divorced can be expensive, and when the divorce is finalized, you will have to adjust to supporting yourself alone. An easy way to alleviate some of your divorce’s financial burden is to work with your spouse to pay down your outstanding marital debt. Having less marital debt means you and your spouse can both walk away from the divorce with less personal debt. Another way you can prepare for your divorce is to start looking for a new place to live now and creating a budget for yourself as a single person.
When you know your marriage is over, contact an experienced divorce lawyer in Oshkosh to discuss your rights and options regarding divorce. Nobody should stay in an unhealthy, unhappy marriage. Contact our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial legal consultation with us. We can answer all of your questions and help you prepare for your impending divorce.