File an Uncontested Divorce in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law allows spouses to divorce using the uncontested divorce process. An uncontested divorce in Wisconsin is available to couples who can agree on all aspects of divorce including child custody, visitation, division of assets, health insurance coverage, and alimony. An uncontested divorce is typically faster and more affordable than a contested divorce proceeding.

Uncontested Divorce in Wisconsin

Divorce is not an easy process, but getting a divorce in Wisconsin can be easier when both spouses are in agreement on the major issues. When this occurs it is called an uncontested divorce instead of a contested or litigated divorce.

For example If John and Mary are getting a divorce[1] in Waukesha County Wisconsin they can file either separately or jointly. To file an uncontested divorce John and Mary will be filing the divorce petition jointly with the Waukesha County Clerk of Courts. They will file form FA-4111 after they both have signed the form.

When Mary and John file a joint petition for divorce in Wisconsin, they are signaling to to the court they are filing an uncontested divorce and agree on all the major issues.

They will already have agreement on how John Jr., their son, will spend time with both Mary and John. This will be documented in the form FA-4147 proposed parenting plan. Since Mary will be staying in their Brookfield home and John Jr. will be staying in the Brookfield home Mary and John will have an agreement on how much child support John will be paying Mary.

After documenting all division of assets, property and debt they will appear in court and present their proposal to the judge. At this point, as long as the judge does not see any major issues with the agreement, he will grant the uncontested divorce and declare the spouses divorced so they can begin moving forward.

The major benefit to the uncontested divorce process is having control over the conversations as fewer parties are involved with the process as an uncontested divorce does not necessarily require an attorney for both spouses, there are fewer third parties involved with the process as well. In many divorce case each couple will need an attorney, a GAL will be appointed by the court for the child, real estate appraisers are involved and financial advisors are involved for valuing retirement accounts. All of these individuals are at the expense of the spouses getting a divorce.

If possible it is better to find a method to communicate and work through the issues if you want to save money. Finding this communication also allows for couples to feel better with the outcome as the process is less bloody.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a joint petition for divorce?

A joint petition for divorce is a procedure where both parties file for divorce together instead of doing it separately. This process saves divorcees time by choosing to come to an agreement together before going to court. Both parties also must agree to the full terms of divorce before filing.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost in Wisconsin?

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.

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.

How long does a joint petition divorce take?

Wisconsin has a mandatory 120-day waiting period which begins once the other party is made aware of the divorce filing, if filing jointly, this waiting period being immediately.

During this waiting period it is not possible to finalize the divorce, instead, this time period is often used to draft other required documents in order to prepare for the finalization of the divorce. The first court appearance after the 120-day waiting period passes is the party's first opportunity to finalize the divorce if there is an agreement in place on all of the outstanding issues.

The average case length in Wisconsin is 6-12 months but can vary widely depending on the county it is filed and the facts involved with the case.

Do both husband and wife have to agree to divorce?

No, Wisconsin is a no fault state which means that neither party needs to prove infidelity, desertion or any other reason in order to obtain the divorce.

One or both parties need to testify that the divorce is irrevocably broken in order to terminate the marriage. The courts do not require that the parties be in agreement about the relationship being irrevocably broken.

If both parties agree and are amicably working through the divorce proceedings together, they can file a Joint Petition for Divorce, which names them as co-petitioners rather than a Petitioner and Respondent.

How much are divorce papers in Wisconsin?

The required paperwork can be obtained for free from your local courthouse or on the Circuit Court website. 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. In addition to the filing fees, contested divorces will also require the Petitioner to have the initial court documents personally served on the Respondent (opposing party) once those documents are filed.

The local police department can provide this service for a fee, otherwise a private process server needs to be contacted. The range of fees for having a party serve can range from $70-$200.


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