Length & Duration of Spousal Support in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin the duration of alimony is based on the length of marriage, age and income difference of spouses Long-term marriages (20 years or more) require payment until remarriage, death, or the earning capacity of the recipient equalizes income.

When there is a divorce, there is usually a lot of debate about how much the payments will be and for how long the payments need to be made. The Wisconsin statutes that talks about the length and duration of alimony payment states,

The feasibility that the party seeking maintenance can become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage, and, if so, the length of time necessary to achieve this goal.[1]

The tough part about this statement is the there are no clear guidelines in Wisconsin statutes. Generally what we tell clients is the length of maintenance will depend on the length of the marriage. Our general guideline we have seen in court is as follows:

  • Marriages less than 10 years = no maintenance
  • Marriages between 10-20 years = maintenance half the length of the marriage
  • Marriages longer than 20 years = indefinite maintenance

These are not guarantees as there are not any written rules on maintenance in Wisconsin. We use these unwritten guidelines because based on experience this is typically what happens.

Warning – This is what we have gleaned through experience. There are no statutes guaranteeing this outcome as the final decision is up to the judge presiding over the case. 

Can My Ex-Spouse Extend Maintenance?

There is not a definite or absolute answer because you never know what the courts are going to consider when making a judgment for alimony cases. They may consider extreme changes to his/her financial state or other life factors.

However, an extension is very unlikely. In the case of Lippstreu v. Lippstreu 125 Wis. 2d 415, 373 N.W.2d 53 (Ct. App. 1985),[2] a wife had also attempted to make request a modification for extending the maintenance, but waited until after the final payments. Her request was denied, she appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed. Your case is of course individual, and the outcome will vary based on the details of your case.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (262) 221-8123 now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you have to pay spousal maintenance?

How long you pay maintenance depends on how long you were married. The longer the marriage was, the longer alimony can last. But alimony can end early in some situations.

How do I stop spousal support in Wisconsin?

To end spousal support, you file the same paperwork you would to modify spousal support. You fill out the same forms, but you mark the boxes for ending alimony.

Does Wisconsin require alimony?

Wisconsin does not require alimony. It is only paid when it is necessary for the case. To see if it makes sense in your case, look at Wisconsin’s alimony factors. If you want an expert opinion, speak with a family law attorney about your situation.

Can a working wife get alimony?

Yes, someone who is working can still get alimony. Alimony is not based on whether someone is working but how much each party is or could be making. So, if both parties are working but one makes significantly less than the other, then they could still get alimony.

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