How to Get a Divorce without a Lawyer in Wisconsin
You do not need a lawyer to file a divorce in Wisconsin. Filing a divorce without lawyer is called a ProSe Divorce. If you have the time and emotional bandwidth to understand the court rules and procedures a DIY will save you money.
What is the Process of a DIY Divorce?
First, you will file whatever your necessary paperwork in the appropriate county courthouse. You'll either do this with your spouse if you're filing jointly or alone. If you file alone you will also need to serve your spouse the papers. Your spouse must know about the divorce before any action can be taken (delaying this will also delay a final judgment).
You'll then decide if you need a temporary hearing. This would be done if you feel the court needs to make any rules regarding you and your spouse in regards to property, money, children or anything else before the divorce is final.
Once you both file your petition, or once your spouse receives their summons there's a mandatory 120 waiting period. After that, you will make an appointment with the judge to finalize the divorce. In the case you don't agree you might be required to attend mediation to hash out your differences.
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Do-It-Yourself Divorce Defined
This is a divorce where you file the necessary paperwork with a judge and come to an agreement with your spouse without the help of an attorney. This is commonly done when both parties are on good enough speaking terms to negotiate various aspects of the divorce with minimal conflict.
A divorce can be filed either jointly (meaning both parties agree to end the marriage) or as an individual. In the case where you file for a divorce alone, you will have to arrange for the papers to be served to your spouse in an official capacity. In cases where both sides agree on all terms of the divorce, this is called an uncontested divorce and the process is simplified.
Depending on how long you've been married and if you have children, the process can be relatively simple or very, very complex.
How Much Does It Cost To File a Divorce Yourself?
Once you fill out all of the necessary paperwork to file for your divorce the court will charge a filing fee. The fee varies depending on what specific forms you end up filing but expect to pay at least $150.
What Are the Risks of DIY Divorce?
As in any case where you choose to represent yourself there are significant risks. The more complex your divorce, the more likely you are to make a mistake. Should you find yourself in that situation, you may end up hiring an attorney to help you fix those problems.
Moreover, if your divorce is contested, meaning one side doesn't agree to several of the key issues, you may find it hard to get a fair deal in the resulting judgment. Ideally, if you're considering doing a divorce yourself, you and your spouse would go in having a rough agreement on the major points such as: how you're going to divide your property and debts, child custody and visitation schedules, and child support and alimony if it's necessary.
Divorce can get extremely complicated very quickly, so when in doubt it may be best to consult with an attorney.
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