The In’s and Out’s of Electronic Filing in Wisconsin


In most counties in Wisconsin, electronic filing (“eFiling”) is now mandatory. So, if you do not know about it yet, it’s time to learn the in’s and out’s of eFiling.

To participate in eFiling, you must set up an account.  This applies whether you are an attorney or self-represented litigant. Once you have an account, you are able to “opt-in” to current cases, or begin an initial filing. To do either of these, you need to enter the case information, upload the documents you wish to file and pay the required fee.  Most files are required to be in PDF format.  Be sure to click through and follow all of the steps, as you will see confirmation of filing if you have done it correctly. If you click out of the screen before you receive confirmation of filing, you likely have not properly filed the document.

Some of the benefits of eFiling are that it saves time, may save money and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This type of accessibility allows you to view your eFiled case at any time by logging into the eFiling website.  You also receive electronic notice of any document filed in your case by the other party as soon as the Court receives it in.  Proponents of eFiling indicate that it will also “decrease data entry, improve the speed with which information can be retrieved and shared, reduce staff time and storage costs, and improve storage security.”

eFiling also changes public access to a court file. The public can still access public records on computers in the offices of the clerks and registers in the courthouse. As for confidential records, only authorized individuals can request a temporary access code that will allow them to look at files in the courthouse. The clerk or register will print copies on request at the current price per page.

One of the more unattractive effects of eFiling is that the court loses the oversight it previously had for accepting and rejecting filings. While there is still an ability for the clerk to reject a filing once filed, there is no current ability to stop the filing at the onset. Another difficulty is the simple fact that it’s a new system. So, it is not uncommon to encounter errors or delay along the way as the persons tasked with navigating this new system attempt to efficiently guide the eFiling users. While the eFiling system is still a constant work-in-progress at this early stage, the benefits seem to be outweigh the occasional frustration.

If you have additional questions about eFiling, the Wisconsin Court System website has created a “Frequently Asked Questions” page that provides helpful responses for new users. You can access that site here:  Many people may be intimidated by this process when trying to file divorce on their own.  However, clerks are generally available at the courthouse to assist you in this process.

If you have other questions related to filing a matter, please feel free to contact our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free ½ hour consultation with one of our attorneys.





Can I File a Divorce Myself in Wisconsin?

I am sure a lot of divorce lawyers would be unhappy with me if they read this but the answer is YES!  Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t need a lawyer to represent you in your divorce.  But filing the paperwork is easy and will save you some money off the top.  See our next post for information about whether you need to hire a divorce attorney.

Many counties in Wisconsin have self-help centers or volunteer lawyers or paralegals who come In for limited hours to assist people.  Notably, Waukesha and Milwaukee County have wonderful self-help centers with all of the forms and instructions that you need.

The Wisconsin Court Access system also has an Online Family Law Forms Assistant which will direct you to the correct forms after you answer certain questions (do you have children, etc.).  This will walk you through the process and give you different options such as printing out blank forms or having the forms completed for you after answering certain questions.  There are also tutorials for certain counties which explain exactly what you need to do.

These forms are fill in the blank and check the box. There is nothing complicated about them.  As long you file the correct forms, which basically differentiate between children or no children, and answer the questions correctly, there are not too many mistakes you can make on these forms.  Even if you do, an attorney can always amend them later for you.

There is some time involved.  You need to make several copies and take them to the courthouse which can be intimidating or inconvenient, especially in Milwaukee.  Unless you are filing jointly with your spouse, you also need to arrange for services of the papers on your spouse.  Given that, most people simply would rather have an attorney take care of this for them.  That is perfectly fine and we are happy to do that.

However, if you can navigate through the forms and have some time to take care of this yourself, you certainly can save yourself some attorney fees by doing so.  After filing, simply call or visit us and we can pick up your case from there.

The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence created a very helpful flowchart which tells you all of the steps you must take to file for divorce.  Click here for this helpful tool.

Whether you choose to file the papers yourself or have us prepare them for you, please contact us for your free initial office consultation at 414-258-1644 or visit our website for more information.