When It Is Time To Divorce
Many of the aspects of a divorce are difficult. You may be emotionally upset, making the statutory legal terminology more difficult to understand.
At Thelen & Associates, LLC, we recognize the emotional strain that you are under during this overwhelming time. Since 1991, we have provided knowledgeable representation to clients struggling with family changes and breakups. We are attorneys who share over 65 combined years of legal experience with complex family law matters that include divorce. Allow us to help you work through the legal process with proven counsel and advice.
If you have children, then filing for divorce will create a different family relationship than you had when you were married. But, in most cases, it is a relationship that will continue for years, and you want to create the best family relationship you can for your children’s future. We have the insight you will need to protect your interests today and in the years ahead.
Divorce law in Wisconsin is no-fault, so you do not need to prove that your spouse was at fault in order to file. There is no separation period required. However, there is a 120-day cooling-off period after a filing that needs to take place before a divorce can be granted. Even in an uncontested divorce, where both parties agree on all the terms, the process will take at least four months.
The property division element of your agreement is likely to be paramount. You will need to divide your assets and debts according to the marital property laws of Wisconsin. Depending on your circumstance, that may be relatively straightforward or quite complex. From high-asset cases to those involving high debt, we can help you with all calculations and the process that you’re going through.
We can assist you in determining your marital and separate property. Because Wisconsin is a marital property state, property acquired during the marriage is typically divided in a 50-50 fashion. However, there may be some exceptions, known as separate property, which often consist of gifts or inheritances and are not divided.
The complexity occurs in determining whether the property is marital or separate, as separate property can be converted into marital property by actions during the marriage. We are lawyers who understand how to analyze this material and provide clear arguments as to the nature of specific property.
There are times when a married couple’s relationship has failed, but because of religious, financial or other reasons, the spouses do not want a divorce. In Wisconsin, a legal separation may be obtained.
This separation does not end the marriage, and neither spouse may remarry, but it creates the rules for handling their assets and debts and, if they have children, all of the custody, placement and support requirements necessary. We can help you if you are facing this situation and work with you to create an agreement for legal separation that meets your needs.
An annulment may be appropriate in very limited circumstances. We can discuss the factors necessary to obtain an annulment as well as the pros and cons involved. This is a legal process and is different than an annulment obtained in a religious context.
Answering Your Divorce Questions
We know divorce can be a confusing subject, so we have provided some basic divorce questions and answers. If you have specific questions, they will be best answered by speaking directly with one of us at Thelen & Associates, LLC.
How much is this going to cost?
To some degree, this is up to you and your former spouse. If you can quickly agree on the terms of the property division and, if there are children, on custody and placement and child support, then you may be able to create an agreement at a reasonable cost. If your situation becomes contentious, requiring many trips to the courthouse, then your divorce fees will increase, and it can become very expensive.
How long will it take?
As with the question of cost, the length of time is largely dependent on how quickly you can resolve your differences and reach an agreement. Wisconsin divorce procedure imposes a 120-day waiting period before the court can issue a final order, and most divorces are completed within a year, but ongoing conflict between the parties can cause the process to take more time.
Will I keep the house?
You may be able to do so, but this is a complex question, involving a careful examination of your post-divorce finances. There are questions of the cost of the mortgage, insurance, taxes and physical maintenance that need to be addressed, along with your income and any child support or maintenance involved.
You may determine that it is not cost-effective to keep the home. We will help you work through all the various scenarios and help you reach the answer that is right for you and your family.
What happens to my kids?
For many, this is the most important question. The custody and placement order will control who has decision-making authority regarding the children and where they will spend their time. We can help you develop a parenting plan and guide you through all the potential solutions that will work best for your family.
Do I have to have an attorney?
No, you can represent yourself, which is known as “pro se.” This is a risky choice, as the courts are not designed to teach you family law as you go along. The clerks of the court and the judges will presume that you know what you are doing and will not give you advice.
Because they cannot advise you, if you make a poor or incorrect choice, then you could essentially allow your spouse to dictate every element of your divorce. Hiring a lawyer at the beginning is far cheaper and will take less time than having to hire one after mistakes have already been made.