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Wisconsin Divorce Law

Wisconsin statute chapter 767 embodies Wisconsin divorce law, and together with case law, administrative, and appellate rulings, it forms the basis of all divorce law in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Residency Requirement

In order for the laws of the state of Wisconsin to apply to a divorce matter, either one or both of the spouses needs to have been a resident of the state of Wisconsin for six months preceding the filing of the action and of the county in which the action is filed for a period of 30 days immediately preceding the filing of the action. When the Respondent (non-filing party) has never lived in the state of Wisconsin, the client needs to discuss with his or her attorney the power of the court to make decisions concerning property, support and maintenance.

The "Family" in Wisconsin Family Law

When Wisconsin adopted its divorce law and even into the period of time in which it considered and adopted no fault divorce legislation, it was always the intent of the legislature to protect the family and the assets acquired by that family during the marriage. Below is a portion of Wisconsin Statute Chapter 765, entitled, "Intent" which provides the legislature's intent of Wisconsin divorce law.

Chapter 765(2) INTENT. It is the intent of chapters 765 to 768 to promote the stability and best interests of marriage and the family. It is the intent of the legislature to recognize the valuable contributions of both spouses during the marriage and at termination of the marriage by dissolution or death. Marriage is the institution that is the foundation of the family and of society. Its stability is basic to morality and civilization, and of vital interest to society and the state.

Chapter 765 goes on to say:

The impairment or dissolution of the marriage relation generally results in injury to the public wholly apart from the effect upon the parties immediately concerned. Under the laws of this state, marriage is a legal relationship between two equal persons, a husband and wife, who owe to each other mutual responsibility and support. Each spouse has an equal obligation in accordance with his or her ability to contribute money or services or both which are necessary for the adequate support and maintenance of his or her minor children and of the other spouse. No spouse may be presumed primarily liable for support expenses under this subsection.

Separation - Legal & Physical

When spouses separate physically, the laws governing their legal responsibilities to each other and with regard to their assets do not change unless they obtain a legal separation or a marital property agreement. Simply moving out of the house and having a separate living arrangement is not a legal separation in the state of Wisconsin and it does not protect either spouse financially from the other's liabilities.

To prevent being held mutually responsible for the debts created by the other spouse, and to ensure that assets are being handled the way that you want them handled, you will need a court order. To obtain a court order, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney who is experienced in family law and the complexities of Wisconsin's marital property and divorce laws. Attorney Kathleen Reiley devotes her law practice to family and divorce law.

Wisconsin Divorce Law

A reference to "the law" includes the statutes governing the substantive law of your case and the procedural law of your case, administrative rules that apply to your case, the federal and state constitutions, prior orders issued in your case, and appellate decisions published by the various courts of appeals that interpret statutes, case law or the Constitution. Not every statute, not every case, applies to your situation. When you do your own research or hear the anecdotes of those who have "been there, done that", it is important to go over your understanding of the law with your attorney to clarify questions and obtain more information.

There are a number of presumptions set forth in the statutes governing divorce in Wisconsin (an assumption made in the light of the stated law). Presumptions may be overcome at times by proving facts that rebut the presumptions (proving that the assumption is incorrect or does not apply to the case before the court). Thorough discussion of your case with Attorney Reiley will help you to understand the presumptions and the possibility of those presumptions being rebutted.

Divorce Proceedings

The divorce proceedings can be handled in a variety of ways. After discussing your strategy and filing for divorce, there is a different procedural step that may occur. There may be a temporary hearing or a stipulated temporary order. The parties must thoroughly prepare financial disclosure statements and a marital balance sheet. They must collect the financial information and information affecting their children. The parties exchange proposals for resolution of disputed issues and commit to writing in a final agreement their resolution of the issues facing them. Each case is unique, so it is important to discuss the procedural and substantive issues with which you are dealing.

Wisconsin Marital Property Law

The law of property changed radically on January 1, 1986 in the state of Wisconsin when the Marital Property Act became effective. This act applies to marriage and to death, and is a separate chapter of the statutes from the chapter that regulates divorce. There are certain principles that apply to property and debt to be divided at divorce, but there is a distinction made in the statutes. The Marital Property Act rendered the title to an asset an unclear determination of "ownership" of an asset. A spouse without title may have an ownership interest in an asset, such as a business, but no right to manage that asset.

The rules about credit and creditors changed significantly as well. Those rules do impact spouses at and after divorce. Title and ownership and responsibility for liabilities are important issues to discuss thoroughly with your attorney.

Under Wisconsin Marital Property Law, all of the assets acquired during the marriage are marital property held jointly by the spouses. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as inheritances, but the law is very specific as to how those inheritances are managed and utilized, so in some situations, even inheritances become marital property.

No Fault Divorce

The term "no fault" divorce means that neither party must allege or prove grounds to justify the granting of the divorce. The standard for granting a divorce in Wisconsin is "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and for legal separation "breakdown of the marital relationship.

Wisconsin Divorce Attorney Kathleen Reiley

If you are contemplating divorce or have already determined that a divorce is the right solution for your situation, the most important reasons to contact a divorce attorney are to preserve your legal rights and financial security and to understand how the laws of the state of Wisconsin will affect you now and in the future. Once you file for divorce - which is called bringing an action for dissolution of a marriage - a temporary court order will be entered, which will define responsibilities by each party for support, physical placement of minor children, and physical possession of the home. It may include other matters, depending upon your unique circumstances.

The law offices of Attorney Kathleen Reiley are exclusively devoted to helping people with their divorce and family law issues. Attorney Kathleen Reiley has handled hundreds of divorce matters, advocating for both men and women, and has become Milwaukee's own go-to lawyer for both opposite and same-sex cohabitation couples in need of legal advice to resolve their disputes. Men throughout Wisconsin and across the nation seek out Attorney Reiley for her expertise in paternity matters. And all the grandparents are talking about the wonderful results that Attorney Kathleen Reiley has obtained for them to enjoy their grandchildren.

Call Attorney Kathleen Reiley (414-369-6309) or send Kathleen Reiley an email.

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