Wisconsin Divorce Laws

When you make the decision to terminate your marriage, understanding the divorce laws in your state can make the process go much more smoothly. If you are filing for divorce in Wisconsin, here is what you need to know.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

To file for divorce in Wisconsin, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least the six months prior to filing. You also must be a resident of the county in which you file for at least 30 days. You will wait for a 120-day period before your hearing after you file.

To file for divorce in Wisconsin, both parties must swear under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If they have lived voluntarily apart for 12 continuous months they may also file. If only one party is willing to swear to the breakdown of the marriage, then the courts will look at all relevant factors when determining whether or not there is hope for reconciliation of the marriage.

If one of the spouses is in the military, the couple may still file for divorce in Wisconsin. However, they need to be sure that they are following all aspects of military family law. In order to do this, they may want to use the help of a qualified military family law attorney.

Division of Property

Wisconsin is a Community Property state when it comes to dividing property after a divorce. This means that the courts will divide the property 50-50 if the couple cannot come to an agreement about property division. However, this can be altered when the following factors are considered:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Property brought to the marriage by the parties
  • Any assets not subject to division
  • Contribution of the parties to the marriage, including the homemaking and child care contributions
  • Age, physical, and emotional health
  • Contribution of either party to the education, training, and earning capacity of the other
  • Earning capacities, including training and education, for each party
  • Desire to keep the custodial parent in the family home
  • Any maintenance payments made to either party
  • Economic circumstances of the parties
  • Tax consequences
  • Written agreement between the parties that is considered binding in court
  • Other factors the courts deem necessary or relevant

Child Custody

Child custody arrangements are determined based on what is in the best interests of the child. Factors the courts may look at include:

  • Wishes of the child’s parents
  • Wishes of the child
  • Interaction and relationship between the child and the parents, siblings, and other people who have a direct impact on the child’s best interests
  • Quality of time each parent spends with the child.
  • Adjustment of the child to home, school, religion, and community
  • Child’s age and developmental or educational needs
  • Mental or physical health of any parties and how that affects the child’s well being
  • Need for meaningful periods of physical placement between the parents and the child
  • Child care services
  • Cooperation and communication between the parents
  • Whether the parent will support the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • Evidence of abuse
  • Evidence of spousal battery
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Any reports from professionals that are admitted into evidence
  • Other factors the courts deem necessary


Spousal support may be awarded at the court’s discretion on a permanent or temporary basis. Factors considered in this decision may include:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Division of property
  • Age, physical, and emotional conditions
  • Education level of each party
  • Earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance
  • Feasibility that the party seeking support can become self-supporting at a reasonable standard of living
  • Tax consequences
  • Agreements between the parties prior to the divorce
  • Contribution of one party to the education, training, or earning capacity of the other

When figuring child support amounts, Wisconsin uses the Percentage of Income Formula. This charges the non-custodial parent a percentage of his or her income as child support based on the number of children from the union.