Where Do I File for Divorce in Wisconsin?

When the frustration, hopelessness, and pain you’re experiencing in your marriage have become too much, and a divorce is unavoidable, it’s time to take the first step and file for divorce.  Before you can do this, however, you need to consider the residential requirements.

In order to file for a divorce in Wisconsin, you must be a resident of your current county for at least thirty (30) days, and a resident of Wisconsin for at least six (6) months.

In the event you have resided in your current county for over thirty (30) days but have not been a resident of Wisconsin for at least six (6) months, you can file a petition of legal separation which only requires 30 days of residency. Since the procedure for divorce takes at least four months, it is likely that you will meet the six (6) month requirement prior to the final hearing.   When you meet six (6) month requirement, you are then eligible to have your legal separation converted to a petition for divorce.

Here are some different scenarios to illustrate the jurisdictional requirements for divorce in Wisconsin:

Example 1:  If you have been living in Wisconsin for more than six months and West Bend for more than thirty days, you are able to file a petition for divorce in the Washington County Courts immediately.

Example 2:  If you moved out of the home you shared with your spouse in Waukesha County and changed to a Dodge County address, you can file for divorce in Washington County immediately. Or, you can wait for thirty days and then file in Dodge County.

Example 3:  If you have moved to Wisconsin from out of state and will be seeking a divorce in the near future, it will take thirty days of residency in order for you to file a petition of legal separation. Once you have been in the state for six months the petition of separation can be changed to a petition for divorce.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have a choice of venue (where you can file), you should consult with an attorney to determine which place will be more beneficial to you.  Counties have different rules, procedures and judges which may make a difference in your case.  The laws in various states are also very different, which you may want to take into consideration.

As if divorce isn’t hard enough, the frustration brought on by the legal “hula-hoops” one has to jump through only makes it worse. By being knowledgeable about where and when the process can begin, you will save you unnecessary headaches.

If you have any questions about where to file for divorce and would like to meet with one of our lawyers for a free initial office consultation, please call us at 414-258-1644.  You can also visit our website for more information.

We welcome your comments or questions. We will do our best to try to respond. However, please be advised that we cannot give legal advice in this forum and all communications are for general informational purposes only. Communication should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. This is an open forum and any information you provide may be posted and will not be held confidentially. By posting a comment or question, you are expressly giving consent for the publication of same. If you have any specific legal issues or concerns, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney in the county and state in which you reside.

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