How Soon can I Remarry after a Divorce in Wisconsin?

Spouses who divorce in Wisconsin must wait six months before they can remarry. Wisconsin will not recognize an out-of-state marriage performed earlier than six months. A spouse who remarries out of state within six months can face prison time and substantial fines when they return to Wisconsin.

Which law governs remarriage after divorce?

The law on remarriage is set forth in Wisconsin statute 765.03. It is part of the Marriage statute and not the Actions Affecting the Family statute.

765.03 provides that anyone who was a party to a divorce action in Wisconsin or elsewhere cannot marry again for six months after the divorce judgement is granted. Wisconsin will consider any marriage that takes place before the six-month waiting period void.  This law applies to:

  • Couples who divorce in Wisconsin. A couple who is divorced in Wisconsin must wait six months before they can remarry.
  • Couples who divorce in any other state. A couple that is divorced in Michigan, Ohio, Hawaii, or any other state cannot remarry in Wisconsin unless they wait six months.
  • Couples who divorce outside of the United States. A couple who divorces in France, Germany, Canada, or any country must also wait six months before they can remarry.

At the last divorce hearing, the Wisconsin family court judge should tell both spouses that they must wait six months before getting remarried. Spouses will be required to sign an acknowledgement that they have been informed of this requirement.

Can a spouse marry outside of Wisconsin to avoid the six-month waiting period requirement?

The short answer is no. Spouses may be tempted to avoid the waiting period law by marrying in another state or even another country.

765.04 provides that If a spouse gets married in another state or country, Wisconsin will void that marriage. This means if the remarried spouse comes back into Wisconsin, Wisconsin will consider that person as being single – not married.

Is there a penalty for remarrying within six months?

The penalty for violating the waiting period requirement is:

  • Up to nine months in jail
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Are there any additional consequences for remarrying within the six-month period?

Spouses who try to avoid the law by remarrying out of state or who remarry in Wisconsin before the six months are up may have additional problems:

  • Tax law. A spouse who claims he/she is married when they're not may run afoul of the IRS and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue
  • Wills, trusts, and other documents may be invalid if the decedent believed he/she was remarried when Wisconsin law holds that they were single and divorced.

Other rights such as powers of attorney and health care directives may also be invalidated or altered because a remarriage was voided.

To understand you rights and how the waiting period affects your legal documents, divorce spouses should make an appointment with a trusted Wisconsin family lawyer.

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