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Wisconsin Family Law Articles

I don’t want a divorce. Do I have a choice?

It’s impossible to brace for the moment when your husband or wife tells you he or she wants a divorce.  Even if the writing has been on the wall for a while, hearing those words can be an extreme shock.  It may also be that you want to try and repair the relationship. If you don’t want a divorce, do you have a choice?

Although you may not want your marriage to end, if your spouse wants to pursue the case it will most likely end in a divorce judgment. In Wisconsin, either spouse can file for divorce provided they have lived in the state for six months, and have been a resident of the county for thirty days. The filing party will then need to have their spouse formally served with the divorce case within 90 days. Once you are served, you will have 20 days to file a response or “answer.” Even if you disagree, refusing to respond is not in a good idea because it could allow your spouse to get a default judgment. Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the law does not require that one or the other person is to blame for the end of the marriage.  The only requirement is that the court finds that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The fact that one spouse does not want the divorce to happen will not stop the divorce. Unless there are special conditions, the trial court will be able to proceed with the divorce 120 days after it is filed. 

Sometimes people believe they can stop a divorce by avoiding service of the divorce documents. However, not being served will not necessarily prevent a divorce from happening. If the filing spouse is unable to locate or serve the other party, he or she may be allowed to ask permission to serve by publication. This involves the filing party making a good faith effort to locate the missing spouse, proving those efforts to the court, and getting permission to post notice in something such as a newspaper. The court may be limited in making certain rulings in this situation, but the divorce can be granted. It's best to be informed and prepared for property division, child custody & visitation changes, and other legal aspects of divorce.

At First Look Family Law, Attorney and Mediator Karyn Youso has experience helping clients evaluate their circumstances and so they can make informed choices regarding divorce. Call us today to set up a consultation and allow us to take a “first look” at your options.

Contact our family law office to learn more about Wisconsin divorce law. Get legal advice from Karyn Youso, the family law attorney and mediator with over 27 years of experience.