Divorce Basics

Divorce Basics in Wisconsin

Divorce-Family-LawAre you considering filing for divorce? Here’s some basic information for you to consider.  Family law is a very complex area and additional questions can be answered by consulting a qualified family law attorney at Eisenberg Law Offices, S.C.

Filing and Process

  • At least one party must be resident of the county for at least 30 days and of the state for at least 6 months.
  • Earliest divorce can be final is 120 days after filing and service.
  • A divorce cannot be finalized if wife is pregnant.  Need to wait until after birth to establish paternity before finalizing divorce.
  • No grounds for divorce are required in Wisconsin, only testimony by one party that marriage is irretrievably broken.  An objection by the other party will not stop a divorce.
  • Neither party can remarry for six months after divorce is final.

Legal Custody

  • This has nothing to do with where the children sleep, but means the right to make major decisions about the children.
  • Joint legal custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the children.

Physical Placement

  • “Physical placement” refers to the time the children spend with each parent.
  • Many child specialists believe that week on/week off schedule is not good for very young children who need more frequent placement with both parents.

Child Support

  • The Chapter DCF 150 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code establishes child support guidelines as follows, subject to exceptions for high and low income payors and serial families:
    • If one parent has less than 25% of the overnights (or equivalent time), that parent will pay child support as follows:
      • 1 child                         17% gross income
      • 2 children                    25% gross income
      • 3 children                    29% gross income
      • 4 children                    31% gross income
      • 5+ children                 34% gross income
  • Court can use earning capacity if it finds that a party is not earning up to his/her capacity.
  • Where there is shared placement, child support is based on number of overnights children are with each parent and each parent’s income.  In that case, parents also share children’s variable costs in proportion to placement.
  • Uninsured medical and dental expenses are usually shared equally, regardless of placement schedule.  This often includes the cost of including children on a parent’s insurance.
  • Child support is neither taxable income to receiving party nor tax deduction for payor.
  • Child support continues until child turns 18, or until child turns 19 if pursuing high school diploma or equivalency.

Maintenance (Spousal Support/Alimony)

  • There are no formulas for maintenance and maintenance awards vary widely from county to county and judge to judge.
  • Factors for court to consider in establishing maintenance:
    • length of marriage
    • age and physical and emotional health of parties
    • property division
    • educational level of each party
    • earning capacity of party seeking maintenance
    • feasibility that party seeking maintenance can become self-supporting at standard of living reasonably comparably to that enjoyed during marriage and length of time needed to reach this goal
    • tax consequences to each party
    • mutual agreements made by parties before or during marriage
    • contribution by one party to education, training or increased earning power of other
    • other factors as court deems relevant
  • Maintenance is tax deductible for payor and taxable to receiving party.
  • Court can set maintenance for limited time or indefinite length of time.  It can always be modified if motion is brought before maintenance terminates based on substantial change in circumstances.
  • If parties want to agree to set amounts of spousal support payments for specific period of time that is not modifiable, they can agree to Section 71 payments in lieu of maintenance.  A court can’t order Section 71 payments in absence of parties’ agreement.

If you are considering filing for divorce or are already involved in a family law case, contact the experienced lawyers at Eisenberg Law for a free consultation to discuss your options and find out how we can help you through this difficult time.

EISENBERG LAW OFFICES

308 East Washington Avenue Madison,
WI 53703
(608) 256-8356

Eisenberg Law Offices, s.c.

Madison WI Attorneys since 1983

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