How do I decide on a process option for my divorce?
Divorce is a process to legally end a marriage. A final judgment of divorce decides the issues of property division, maintenance, legal custody/placement, child support, and other related topics. There are a number of procedural options that may be used to reach resolution of these issues. The methods vary in degree of attorney and court involvement, conflict, and cost. The issues in a divorce are resolved by (a) the parties reaching an agreement or (b) a contested hearing after which a judge or court commissioner makes a decision. Divorce process options include (1) pro se divorce (self-representation), (2) mediation, (3) collaborative divorce, and (4) lawyer negotiation/litigation. We recommend that you gather information and consider discussing process options with your spouse or partner as well as with an attorney before making a choice.
Choosing a Process for Divorce
What do I need to know before I get a divorce in Wisconsin?
Learn more from the Wisconsin State Bar here.
What are the issues involving children and how are they resolved?
The main child-related issues are custody, placement, support and expenses. Legal custody, major decision-making, and physical placement, the schedule of time with each parent, is determined based upon a statutory list of factors for the best interests of the children. There is a formula for child support and expenses that a court usually follows if the parents do not agree otherwise. There are a number of resources that provide additional information.
How is property division decided?
The legal presumption is that assets and debts, with the exception of property received by gift or inheritance, are divided equally. There are exceptions and considerations that may alter this presumption. Professional input may be needed to understand valuation factors, tax effect, and options to divide in order to maintain value and make the best decisions.
What is maintenance and how will it be determined?
Maintenance is spousal support, also called alimony. There is no standard formula for determining maintenance; it is based upon a number of statutory factors. Two of the key factors are the length of the marriage and the difference in the income of the parties. Maintenance is awarded based upon need and fairness.
How does divorce affect children?
Divorce is a major family transition that affects children. Research is clear that the level of conflict between parents is the most significant factor in whether children are emotionally harmed by separation and divorce.
A legal consultation with one of the lawyers at Hansen & Hildebrand is a valuable first step in understanding your options and how to proceed with a focus on the best interests of your children.
How long will it take to get a divorce?
The amount of time it takes to get a divorce will depend on several factors, including the process option chosen and the level of conflict between spouses. A court cannot grant a divorce until at least 120 days after the legal action is filed and both parties receive notice that at divorce action is pending. Traditional, litigated divorces can take one to two years to resolve. Spouses who choose mediation or collaborative divorce may be divorced in significantly less time since they may obtain a final court hearing as soon as they reach and sign a complete agreement.
How is legal separation different from divorce?
Actions for divorce and legal separation are filed in the same way and proceed the same way through a court. Both result in a final judgment that divides assets and debts, determines financial obligations between the spouses, and establishes the custody and placement of children. Legally separated spouses cannot marry anyone else. There are legal implications and a post-judgment procedure to convert a legal separation to a divorce. There are some differences in the legal impact of legal separation versus divorce.
What is the Parent Education requirement required in most counties?
Both parties are required to attend an approved parent education program in divorce and legal separation actions that involve minor children. However, this requirement will generally be waived if the parties work with a child specialist. Please ask one of our attorneys about a child specialist’s role in a divorce and about referrals to child specialists to assist parents in focusing on the needs and interests of their children in creating a post-separation parenting plan.
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