A physical separation of spouses is not a “legal separation” regardless of how long it has been since the parties have lived together. A “legal separation” occurs through a court proceeding that is almost identical to a divorce proceeding. There are two main differences between a legal separation and a divorce.
1) Residency requirements: To file an action for legal separation, you only need to be a resident of the state of Wisconsin (and of the county you file in) for 30 days. To bring an action for divorce, you must be a resident of the county you file in for at least 30 days AND a resident of the state of Wisconsin for at least 6 months.
2) A legal separation does not dissolve or terminate the marriage, and therefore, neither party can remarry if their previous marriage ended only with a Judgment of Legal Separation and not a Judgment of Divorce. However, the parties can agree to convert the legal separation to a divorce after the Judgment of Legal Separation is entered, and either party to the legal separation can bring a Motion to convert the Judgment of Legal Separation to a Judgment of Divorce if more than one year has passed since the Judgment of Legal Separation was entered.
For more than 20 years Donna has been helping individuals in Central Wisconsin as they battle some of the most traumatic and emotional legal challenges a person can face: divorce and family law disputes, personal injury, and being a defendant in a criminal case. Donna’s approach to practicing law is to listen in order to identify her clients’ legal concerns and desired outcomes, then counsel her clients to establish realistic goals and expectations, and finally, to work with her clients to achieve their goals as efficiently as possible – always with an eye toward minimizing the emotional cost that is inherent in her practice areas.