Does Wisconsin have jurisdiction over a non-resident? | Sterling Law Offices, S.C. global $post;
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– from Michelle N. in Shorewood, WI

Question Details:

My wife and I were divorced in another state. She was awarded custody of our three children and I was ordered to pay support. My wife moved with the children to Wisconsin and has lived there for almost three years. I visit them about three or four times a year. Now, she has informed me that she is petitioning the court in Wisconsin for an increase in support. Can Wisconsin order me to appear in court there? Does Wisconsin have jurisdiction over a non-resident?

Family Law Attorney Response:

This is really a matter of discretion by the court. Jurisdiction in this matter would depend on several things, including whether your activities in Wisconsin are isolated or substantial. This would also have to be made in accordance with the requirements of due process.

A similar situation was seen in the case of McCarthy v. McCarthy 146 Wis. 2d 510, 431 N.W.2d 706 (Ct. App. 1988). Here, the court had initially dismissed the wife’s petition based on the notion that Wisconsin did not have jurisdiction. However, upon appeal, the court of appeals reversed the circuit court’s decision to dismiss the petition and to consider the merits of the petition.

I suggest that you seek legal counsel immediately to discuss your case in greater detail.


Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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