Wisconsin Property Division Laws

Property will be divided in a Wisconsin divorce or separation. Wisconsin is a community property state, so all martial property gets divided 50/50. The court first lets parties divide assets on their own, and if they cannot agree, then the court steps in and decides for them.

Wisconsin Property Division Laws

Dividing Property in Divorce

Property division happens in all divorces. The more assets there are the more complex the division process can be. If parties had a prenuptial agreement created before the marriage, it can make the division process easier.

Assets in a Divorce

Property division is part of a divorce or other similar case like legal separation. Most assets are marital property and get split evenly between the divorcing parties. Some assets are non-marital property and are not divided between the parties.

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements outline how property is divided in the event of a divorce or separation. Prenups usually protect assets from before the marriage, but they can cover future assets as well. Some things like child custody cannot be included in a prenup.

Wi Debt And Property Division Laws

The Process of Property Division in Divorce

The process of property division happens within a divorce case. Below is a general outline of how most cases that involve property division look. For more in-depth information on the process, visit our page outlining what it looks like to work with us from start to finish.

Step 1


When you file your case, be sure to use the correct paperwork. There are different documents needed depending on the specifics of your case.

Step 2

Temporary Orders

Temporary orders outline how property division will look during the divorce case such as who continues to live in the house and who has access to accounts. Temporary orders also look at things like custody and alimony.

Step 3


In court-ordered mediation, a third-party mediator works with both parties to try to find a compromise on each of the divorce issues. The goal is to reach an agreement on how all assets and property get split.

Step 4

Pretrial Conference

The conference prepares the judge for the trial, or the case can end here if the parties have all issues settled.

Step 5

Final Negotiations

In the time before the trial date, there is one more chance to negotiate a settlement. Many cases that have not yet settled settle here because a trial is expensive. However, when the other party is unwilling to see reason, a trial can be necessary.

Step 6

Trial and Finalization

In the trial, the court decides to split any assets the parties have not agreed on yet. Each side makes their case for how the final order should be.
After the trial, the judge makes their decisions and lays out the final orders.

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Key Components

Property division is complex because there are many aspects to it, and it happens alongside the other divorce issues such as child custody, child support, and alimony.

Below are links to more information on those aspects and issues that impact property division. For case specific advice, talk to an attorney from Sterling Lawyers.

Property Division

How property is divided is one of the most important and contentious sections of a divorce. You divide everything from the marital home to retirement accounts to student loans.

How the Court Decides

When parties cannot agree on who gets what after the divorce, the court makes the decision for them. Because of Wisconsin’s laws, the court splits things down the middle to the best of their ability.

What Gets Split

There are two kinds of property in Wisconsin, marital property and non-marital property. Marital property is the stuff that both spouses own, so it gets split between them. Non-marital property includes the assets that don’t get split like inheritances.

Key Assets

Some key assets you may want more information on include:

How to Decide Who Gets What

Actually deciding how to outline who gets what is difficult. Division is hard not only because each person will value things differently but also because there are a lot of things to divide. One tool that can help with this is the property division worksheet we have for you to download.

Calculating Alimony

Wisconsin law doesn’t have a set equation to calculate alimony. So, our alimony calculator estimates using equations used by attorneys. For a personal estimate that takes all the factors of your situation into account you will need to speak with a Sterling Lawyers attorney.

Types of Alimony

There are four key types of alimony that can be ordered: temporary, permanent, reimbursement, and lump sum alimony. Something like lump sum alimony especially can impact property division.


Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, is when one party financially supports the other.


Property division happens within a divorce, so general divorce information is also something important to understand.

Divorce Types

What type of divorce you get will depend on how well you get along with the other party. If you agree on everything with the other party, it can be an uncontested divorce. If you are able to work with the other party, you can get a mediated divorce. And if you and the other party do not get along, you will want a contested divorce.

How Long a Divorce Takes

The length of a divorce mostly depends on how easily you and the other party can agree on things. Most divorces take six months to a year, but they can go longer.

How Custody Works

The Wisconsin child custody laws outline how the court determines child custody. Custody is the parents’ ability to make major decisions in the child’s life. The court assumes that both parents will share custody unless one parent is a danger to the child.

Child Support

One parent pays child support when there is an imbalance in income or in placement time. Child support is meant to support the child and create positive living situations with both parents. How much child support a party pays can be calculated using our child support calculator.

Child Custody

Whether there is one child or five, it’s rarely easy to figure out child custody and placement and child support. Parents first try to find a compromise together. If the parents can't agree, the court decides based on the child's best interests.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps in the process of property division?

The first step in property division in divorce is to identify all the assets. Then, make sure you identify what is marital property and what is separate property. Third, determine how much each asset is worth. Finally, decide who gets what and distribute the assets.

What are marital property rights in Wisconsin?

Marital property laws in Wisconsin say that any marital assets get split 50/50 in a divorce. Most assets are marital property especially if they were acquired or used during the marriage.

What happens to joint owned house in divorce?

A joint owned house (also called the marital home) is a marital asset and will get split in the divorce. How exactly that looks will depend on the specifics of the case. If one party wants the house, they might get to keep it in exchange for letting the other party keep something they want like all the retirement accounts.

How is 401k divided in divorce in Wisconsin?

Retirement accounts are divided in Wisconsin divorces. It could end up that each party takes different accounts or that one account is split in two.

How long do you have to be married to get half of everything in Wisconsin?

There is not a set amount of time that lets you get half of everything. In short-term marriages of a couple of years or less, the court may be more willing to allow parties to keep more of their premarital assets. But anything that was bought during the marriage will be a marital asset and split 50/50.

How do you split your marital property?

Because Wisconsin is a community property state, marital property is split evenly between parties. Evenly means what one party is taking should be roughly equivalent in value to what the other party gets. Do this methodically using a property division worksheet.

What assets cannot be split in a divorce?

Inheritances, premarital assets, and post-separation assets are not marital property. This means that they are not split in the property division process because they are owned only by one party. However, non-marital property can become commingled, making an asset marital property.
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