Regardless of the details, divorce is often fraught with stress, anxiety, conflict and uncertainty. So much is at stake, children, extended family relationships, homes, assets and even family pets can be “on the table” in a divorce.
Many people have little experience with divorce, and even if so may have very little knowledge of all aspects of it. Plus, divorce laws and processes differ – sometimes greatly – from state to state. The attorneys of Forward Legal Service have more than 50 years of combined experience in family law, and have represented thousands of clients in all aspects of family law, including divorce. In those years of practice, they have been asked nearly every conceivable question about divorce by people considering this serious step, or who are in the midst of divorce.
Below are seven of the most common questions those clients and prospective clients have asked, specifically about divorce in Wisconsin.
How is child custody decided in Wisconsin? While laws surrounding divorce differ from state to state, when it comes to child custody, family courts in every state are guided by one principle: every aspect related to custody of children must be based on what is in the best interest of the children involved. While Wisconsin’s standard is 50/50 joint custody, many factors are taken into consideration by Wisconsin family courts, the primary factors include:>
- Is there any history or evidence of domestic violence, physical, emotional or sexual abuse? Courts take these issues extremely seriously and will go to great lengths to ensure the safety of the children involved.
- What are the wishes of each parent with respect to custody? In many cases, parents will have some ideas as to how the custody of their children would be handled. Still, in other cases parents will be at odds regarding schedules, holidays, etc., leaving the courts to make decisions on these issues.
- Will the health – mental or physical – of any person living in the proposed households negatively affect the children? Again, courts take great pains to ensure children are in a safe, stable and supportive environment.
- What are the educational and developmental needs of the child or children and how is each parent equipped to meet those needs?
- What are the preferences of the child or children? Wisconsin family courts must give consideration to a child’s wishes, and at age 14 courts give the preferences of the child more consideration.
What about alimony in Wisconsin? Family courts in Wisconsin may award alimony and determine the amount and for how long a spouse will receive alimony. In making these decisions, Wisconsin family courts consider the length of the marriage, how property is being divided in the divorce, the educational level of each spouse, and each spouse’s health and ability to work, as well as other factors.
Can the terms of a divorce be settled out of court in Wisconsin? Yes. This is actually a favorable option in many ways. By working together to a degree and reaching an agreement on the terms of a divorce, the spouses may well be taking a less stressful and more peaceful approach to ending their marriage. This also may be a positive start to co-parenting as a divorced couple. With these and other factors in mind, Wisconsin family courts generally view this option favorably.
How much will a divorce cost in Wisconsin? Cost can vary greatly. Certainly, filing fees ($184.50 plus $10.00 for divorces involving child support or maintenance, and a $20.00 fee for electronic filing) are consistent, but in cases involving attorneys and especially litigation, costs can increase significantly.
What about child support? As in many states, in Wisconsin a spouse who is paying child support will in most cases be required to pay until the child in question reaches 18 years of age. If a child is still in high school or is in a high school equivalency program, that child may receive child support until the age of 19. In addition, if a parent is delinquent in payment of child support, the past-due payments are enforceable by the court, regardless of the child’s age.
How long will it take to finalize a divorce in Wisconsin? In most cases, divorces in Wisconsin are finalized in six to 12 months. However, in contentious case involving extensive litigation, the process may take significantly longer.
The attorneys and staff of Forward Legal Services focus solely on family law, and have handled thousands of divorces for clients. We understand each case, and that every person involved in a divorce is unique and has their own objectives, concerns, priorities and expectations.
Recognizing that, we commit ourselves to getting to know and understand our clients, and to providing them with the legal and emotional support they need to get through what may well be one of the most challenging and traumatic events of their lives. Contact us today for a complimentary evaluation of your case and learn how we can help you through this difficult time.