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. 


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