Average Cost of a Divorce in Wisconsin
The cost of a WI divorce will vary depending on how difficult it is for the two parties to reach an agreement, typically falling between $3,500-$25,000. A divorce will be more expensive if it involves any of the following:
- Minor Children
- Spousal Support Dispute
- Property & Assets
If custody, support, or property issues cannot be easily resolved, and the divorce goes to trial, the total cost will likely double. It follows that a simple divorce will be cheaper.
Divorce takes an Emotional and Financial Toll
Some marriage dissolutions are not much more involved than an intricate corporate tax return; others take years and cost millions. Furthermore, circumstances can change very quickly. The most agreeable soon-to-be-ex-spouses often suddenly become bitter opponents for little or no reason. On the flip side, the most contentious couples sometimes have a change of heart and work things out almost overnight.
It's also important to note that marriage dissolution has an emotional cost in addition to a financial one. In many cases, the anxiety, depression, sadness, anger, and other feelings that usually accompany divorce cost much more than the legal and other fees.
All that being said, there are some objective financial costs that are usually the same in almost all Wisconsin marriage dissolutions. As of February 2018, the filing fee is usually a little less than $200. Other common costs include the mediation fee ($200) and social services investigation fee ($300).
Judges almost always order contested cases to mediation, and if that contested case involves children, judges nearly always order social studies as well.
There are legal fees as well, and the best way to examine these costs may be to look closely at the divorce process in Wisconsin.
Avoid a Contested Divorce
Contested Divorce cases begin with a temporary hearing. At this hearing, the judge makes some preliminary orders concerning child custody, child support, and property preservation. Aggressive representation is very important at this early stage, because the temporary orders often serve as the blueprint for the final orders.
Next, there's the discovery phase. The parties exchange financial and other information necessary to resolve the case. Like the divorce itself, sometimes discovery is almost conflict-free. Other times, especially if the spouses mistrust each other, disputes are commonplace. These disputes often require expensive court hearings to resolve.
As mentioned, most Wisconsin divorce cases got to mediation before trial. A neutral mediator supervises negotiations between the spouses and moves them closer to settlement. Many cases (about 75 percent if the mediation is voluntary) settle at this point. The rest move on to the next stage.
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