– from Jerry J. in Wayne, WI

Question Details:

My wife and I have agreed to a stipulation that covered every aspect of our divorce. We have agreed on pretty much everything. But now that the proceedings are about to begin, I want some things changed. This stipulation has been entered by us with no representation. A friend said they were held to it. Can I change my mind or is too late? Is it the same as signing a contract?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Two things; one, you can always change your mind. How it will affect the outcome of your divorce is never certain. Many people look to their friends divorces or seek outside views in order to find out how their divorce will end. This, however, is a mistake. Each and every divorce ends in a different way. Every case is unique. Your friend's case was unique to him/her, just as yours will be for you.

We can look to other cases to assist us in assessing the value of certain circumstances by finding similar situational outcomes, but there are no definite answers. Only probable outcomes. For your case, we can find some similarities in Norman v. Norman, 117 Wis. 2d 80, 342 N.W.2d 780 (Ct. App. 1983). In this instance both parties had entered into a stipulation that was approved by the family court commissioner. The wife had changed her mind, and the judge found the stipulation was reasonable and fair. Upon appeal, the decision was reversed and she did not have to abide by the stipulation. This was based on the grounds that an entered stipulation is merely a recommendation to the court, and does not stand in regards to a contract.

This is one scenario, which also leads to the second thing I wanted to point out. Have you considered legal representation?

I would advise you to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney before proceeding any further. An attorney will be better suited to advising you of the best course of action, based on your individual situation.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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