How to File for Divorce in Waukesha County
To file for divorce in Waukesha County, you must be a resident for at least 30 days. You will need to file a summons, petition, and confidential petition addendum with the Waukesha County Clerk, pay a filing fee and serve your spouse. There is a 120 day mandatory wait time before the final hearing.
Overview of Filing for Joint Divorce in Waukesha County
Filing for a Joint divorce means that you and your spouse will start and file the divorce together. Waukesha county compiles necessary paperwork for filing jointly into a packet that can either be downloaded for free or purchased from the Family Court Self-Help Center.
1.) Once you obtain the appropriate forms for a Joint divorce, the forms must be completed and filed in the correct order. You shouldn’t fill out all the forms in the packet at once, because only certain forms are due at certain points in time, and if completed too soon, parties may have to redo a form that was completed too early. Each form comes with a detailed checklist and instructions, but if there are still questions about a form or procedure, you may contact the Family Division and a customer service rep will try to assist. Parties should complete the forms in black ink if filling them out by hand.
a. The Petitioner is the party starting and filing the divorce/legal separation
b. The Respondent is the spouse
c. Joint Petitioners are parties that start and file the divorce together
2.) Paperwork needed for filing Jointly: Joint petitions, Confidential Petition Addendum. The joint petition is a formal request to the court for a divorce or legal separation. This form provides basic information about the parties, if they have met all lawful requirements to request a divorce, and tells the judge what relief is requested. The Confidential Petition Addendum allows the court to collect required social security numbers and keep them sealed from the public.
3.) Consider the need for a Temporary Order hearing. Temporary Order hearings are needed if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on any of the following issues:
a. Child Custody / Placement
b. Child Support
c. Use of the family residence over the course of the divorce
d. Use of Automobiles or other personal property
e. Payment of bills
f. Payment of Maintenance
The agreements made in a temporary hearing order will stay in place until a permanent order is established. If both you and your spouse CAN agree on these issues informally, you do not need to file a temporary order and can skip this step entirely. If you need the temporary order hearing, but can come to an agreement on these issues, you may write your agreements on a Stipulation for Temporary Order form to request that the Family Court Commissioner make your agreements an order of the court. Once signed by the Family Court Commissioner, the stipulation must be followed until the divorce is granted or there is a new order of the court. If you CANNOT agree on the above issues, either party may request to have the Family Court Commissioner make decisions for them at a Temporary Hearing. To do this, file the Order to Show Cause and Affidavit for Temporary Order.
4.) Once all necessary forms to start the action are completed, you and your spouse may take them to the Family Division room C-112, Mon-Fri between 8:30 and 4:00 to have them reviewed for completeness and copied if necessary (There is a fee of $.25 per page copied). Once the forms have been filed, it is at this point that a case number and judge are assigned to the case. All future documents that need to be completed must have a case number on them.
5.) When filing jointly, serving the other party is not required unless you or your spouse files the Affidavit and Order to Show Cause for Temporary Order, in which case whoever files needs to also serve their spouse and obtain a Proof of Service.
6.) Unless one of the parties requested a Temporary Hearing, Joint Petitioners do not need to do anything more until they receive the Notification of the Pre-Trial Conference and the Pre-Trial Order from the court. This will contain the date of the first hearing, which can be set no sooner than 120 days from the date the action was filed. With this, you will also receive specific orders from the court for how to prepare for the hearing.
7.) If you have minor children at the time of the divorce, both you and your spouse are required by law to complete the Helping Children Cope with Divorce seminar. Information on this seminar will arrive with the Notice of Pre-Trial Conference, Pre-Trial Order, and Pre-Trial Conference date.
8.) Before the Pre-Trial Conference, you and your spouse must complete a Financial Disclosure Statement, which can be downloaded from the website for free, or requested from the Court Self-Help Center. This needs to be filed with the court no later than 10 days before the Pre-Trial Conference.
9.) If both parties are satisfied that the other has fully disclosed their finances, they should complete the Marital Settlement Agreement.
10.) If the parties have completed and signed the Marital Settlement Agreement by the date of the Pre-Trial Conference and the judge approves the agreement, the court may grant the divorce. If so, there will be no trial.
11.) After the Pre-Trial Conference, prepare the “Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgement” (FFCLJ), make three copies and submit them to the judge for their signature. A copy of your completed Marital Settlement Agreement should be attached to the original and each of the three copies of the FFCLJ. You must also complete and file the Vital Statistics Form. It is recommended that you complete these tasks the day the divorce is granted, however, you do have 30 days to file. After 30 days, you risk having your divorce dismissed and having to start over.
You may need to follow up with different government offices with certain paperwork. This includes signing car titles, real estate deeds, division of pension plans (QDRO), changing of beneficiaries on life insurance policies, revising your will, and other matters when appropriate.
Filing for Contested Divorce
- Obtain “Summons and Petition for Divorce” and “Confidential Petition Addendum” (Found in LRC or online) DO NOT write Social Security numbers on the summons and Petition. Soc. Sec. numbers should only be placed on the Confidential Petition Addendum form. If a temporary order hearing is necessary, obtain an “Order to Show Cause for Temporary Order” form.
- File the original and three copies of the Summons and Petition for Divorce and pay the filing fee in the Clerk of Courts (COC) Rm. 1000 of the Dane County Courthouse. 1 is for you, 2 are for the service of your spouse.
Optional – If you do not think you will be able to pay the filing fee, you can apply for a “Petition for Waiving fo Filing and Service fees” at the Court Commissioner Center (CCC) RM 2000. The form is available at the LRC, CCC, COC, or online.
Optional – File the original and three copies of the “Order to Show Cause for Temporary Order” with the CCC if a temporary Hearing is needed.
- Serve the Summons and Petition and, if applicable, Order to Show for Temporary Order, to your spouse. The Dane County Sheriff's Civil Process Unit or a private process server will serve legal documents for a fee. If your spouse will admit to receiving the forms from you, they need to sign a “Admission of Service” form, which can be found at the LRC or online.
- Return the original Proof of Service received from the process server, or the Admission of Service, to the CCC or COC. Keep a copy for yourself.
- Attend a Temporary Order hearing if one is requested. You will need to bring a completed “Financial Disclosure Statement” to your hearing.
- Complete a “Marital Settlement Agreement”. If there is not agreement on all divorce issues, you will need to file a “Request for Status Conference” to have a pretrial hearing. Some examples of divorce issues you will need agreement on are:
– Child Custody / Placement
– Child Support
– Use of the family residence
– Use of Automobiles or other personal property
– Payment of bills
– Payment of maintenance
- File the original Marital Settlement Agreement or Request for Status Conference with the CCC. Both you and your spouse should keep a copy. If you are filing for a status conference, you must serve a copy on your spouse by mail.
- File the “Original Certificate of Divorce or Annulment” form (Vital Statistics form) with the CCC. This can be found at the COC, CCC, of LRC.
You cannot get a final hearing date until all above items are completed.
After these steps are completed, the CCC will complete the “Certificate of Readiness for Trial” form and send it to the judge so the divorce hearing can be scheduled.
- Complete the Financial Disclosure Statement which can be found at the LRC or online.
- Attend a divorce trial. You will receive notice of a trial date from the judge's office after the Certificate of Readiness for Trial has been received. Bring your completed Financial Disclosure Statement and Proof of Service of the Order for Appearance (if applicable) to the trial. Be 15 minutes early, be polite, and be ready to present your case.
- After the divorce hearing, prepare the “Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgement” (FFCLJ) for, make three copies and submit to the judge for their signature. A copy of your completed Marital Settlement Agreement should be attached to the original and each of the three copies of the FFCLJ.
If the final judgement is not filed within 30 days, the judge may initiate an Order to Show Cause for contempt hearing against the party responsible for preparing and filing the documents. The judge can impose appropriate sanctions.
Forms can be found online here: https://courts.countyofdane.com/Prepare/formFamily
Are you ready to move forward? Call (262) 221-8123 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.
Filing Fees in Waukesha County
After filling out paperwork specific to your situation, you will need to file the paperwork and pay a fee to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The following fees are approximate and depend entirely on what additional paperwork your case requires.
- Filing for a Dane County divorce with no request for support or maintenance is $184.50
- Filing for divorce with a request for support or maintenance is $194.50
After filing your paperwork, there is a 120 day mandatory wait time before your final court date can be scheduled.
Any other fees can be found here: Wisconsin Circuit Court Fees (See Page 5 of the PDF) 
Waukesha County Courthouse
515 W Moreland Blvd, Madison, WI 53703
Mon-Fri 8 am-4:30 pm