Studies have shown that for many people, divorce ranks second only to a death of a loved one in terms of emotional turmoil, pain and stress. The sheer thought of going through a divorce may cause anxiety and fear. Multiple questions concerning how the process will impact your children, finances, future and you can become all-consuming. The first step in conquering fear of the unknown is to learn as much as possible about the process. The following are common questions and answers about the divorce process:
Question: What are the grounds for divorce?
Answer: In order for the Court to grant a divorce, one of the parties must testify that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” This means that one or both parties believe that there is no possibility that they will be able to reconcile their differences.
Question: How long does the divorce process take?
Answer: A divorce must be filed in the county in which either the husband or wife resided for at least 30 days. One of the parties must have been a resident of Wisconsin for at least six months immediately before the commencement of the divorce action. There is a 120 day waiting period following the commencement of a divorce action. Most divorces take approximately six to nine months to resolve, depending upon the complexity of the issues. This time is often used by both parties to gather information and define the disputed issues.
Question: How does the Court divide property?
Answer: All property is presumed to be marital and divided equally between the parties. One exception is property received either as a gift from a third party or as an inheritance, although even gifts and an inheritance may be divided in some circumstances.
Question: If I am contemplating divorce, what can I do to protect myself?
Answer: Gather detailed financial information. Take the time early in the process to document your personal and business assets and liabilities. Copy financial statements, tax returns, credit card statements, retirement and investment information. Photograph personal property including household items and business assets. Copy records from your computer to an external hard drive. Take the steps necessary to prevent your spouse from diverting or squandering funds to the detriment of you and your children such as canceling joint credit cards and closing lines of credit. Be informed about your finances.
Question: How much will all of this cost?
Answer: Lawyers generally charge an hourly rate for services rendered. Lawyers typically require an advanced fee. This fee is a deposit or a down payment. The size of the advanced fee varies from lawyer to lawyer and case by case. The total cost will depend upon the complexity and number of the disputed issues.
The breakup of a marriage often involves property division, spousal support, child support, custody and physical placement. Each of these can be resolved by agreement or contested in Court. A good lawyer can clarify the legal process, help in establishing your goals and propose a positive strategy to achieve realistic results.