What Is the Most Popular Time of Year To File a Divorce?

Divorce concept with gavel and wedding rings

When do people most commonly file for divorce? While there can be many reasons why individuals may consider filing for divorce, there are certain times of the year that courts see an increased number of divorce filings. In a recent article published by CNN, with an analysis by FindLaw.com, states that American divorce filings between 2008 and 2011 revealed a surge in divorces in the month of January, with divorce filings increasing and peaking in late March. The article suggests many reasons for this trend, and can be found here:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/09/health/january-divorce-month-matrimony/?iid=ob_homepage_deskrecommended_pool

In summary, this article suggests that many people make up their minds about a divorce before the holidays, but hold off until January to avoid appearing heartless to family and friends by ending a marriage during the holidays. Many people may also be motivated by budget issues to wait until after the New Year. The end of the year is generally when many people receive bonuses, which can be helpful when approaching the expense of a divorce. Plus, waiting until the New Year can allow couples to file their taxes jointly for the previous year, which can be beneficial for the parties facing a divorce.

It is suggested by psychiatrist and author of “The Intelligent Divorce” book series, Mark Banschick, that the start of the year, for many people, is an “existential moment,” where people self-assess their lives and determine that life is too short, and that the current version of who they are is unhappy. He notes that the best time for a divorce is when an individual feels centered about who they are and what it is that they need in life.

Surprisingly, another time of year that people commonly file for divorce is in September. Traditionally, summer is the time for family vacations because the children are home from school, and many people do not want to start trouble at this time. Summer is also wedding season, and many people do not wish to attend weddings in the middle of a divorce. So, similarly to the end of a busy holiday season, people tend to feel like the time for togetherness is over, and it is time to get back to real life.

To those of us involved in the area of family law, it is clear that a divorce is a difficult decision for anyone to make at any time. The decision to proceed with a divorce can have a profound effect on the individual’s family, financial well-being, and daily life. If you are facing this difficult decision, call us at (414) 258-1644 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

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.

When Is It Time To Look For a Divorce Lawyer?

Often, the need to find a good divorce lawyer is obvious: Your spouse has served you with papers, you’ve been legally separated for a while, or you just know in your heart that “it’s over.” In some situations, however, things might not be that clear. Perhaps you are concerned that your marriage might be ending, or are worried that your spouse might file for divorce in the future.

When that happens, how do you know when it’s time to look for a good divorce lawyer?

Although there might not be any one unmistakable sign, our advice would be to remember that earlier is almost always better. That is, the moment you think you might need a divorce lawyer, you should probably start discreetly looking for one.

Here are a few good reasons why:

A good divorce lawyer can help explain what you’re getting into

There is not only the legal process of filing for divorce itself, but also all of the steps that are bound to come after, including a review of your assets and financial position, custodial agreements, and negotiating with your spouse’s divorce attorney. By starting a bit earlier, you can make better long-term decisions that could turn out to be incredibly important for the rest of your life.

Finding a divorce lawyer early means you won’t have to rush to find one later

The last thing you want, if you suddenly find that you are being sued for divorce, is to have to find a divorce lawyer without having adequate time to find a lawyer you are comfortable with and ask the questions that matter to you most. As with the divorce itself, choosing a divorce lawyer isn’t a step to take lightly, so don’t procrastinate on your search if you think it might be necessary.

A good divorce lawyer can help you take steps to protect yourself

If you know, or even suspect, that a divorce is imminent, then now is the perfect time to take a look at your financial situation, living arrangements, and other details that could suddenly become very important during the divorce proceedings. There are numerous things you can do right now to protect your future (or your children’s futures) by planning ahead with your divorce attorney.

Your decision isn’t final until you file for divorce

Scheduling a meeting with a divorce attorney doesn’t necessarily mean you will ultimately have to file for divorce. It could be the case that you decide it’s not the right avenue for you, that you want to give your marriage more time, or that there are other issues to be resolved first. In any of those situations, having the facts beforehand and preparing yourself can turn out to be invaluable later – even if it’s just for your own peace of mind.

It’s understandable that lots of people don’t want to be in a rush to meet with a divorce attorney, especially if they aren’t sure about the future of their marriage. If you have reason to suspect you might need a divorce lawyer in the future, however, follow our advice and start making some preliminary plans today. If you do end up needing a good attorney, you’ll be very glad you thought ahead and got one working for you.

To schedule a free initial office consultation to discuss a possible divorce, please contact us at 414-258-1644 or visit our website for further information.

Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is a no fault state.  This means that the only ground for divorce is irretrievable breakdown and all fault issues are largely irrelevant as to the divorce itself.  Therefore, it does not matter who files or initiates the divorce action in Wisconsin.

Further, there is really no advantage as to who files a divorce action.  There are consequences, however.  For example, the person who files the action, known as the Petitioner, has to pay the court filing fee which is close to $200.00.  Furthermore, the Petitioner is typically responsible for the preparation of the majority of the paperwork throughout the action which could possibly result in additional attorneys fees.

However, sometimes there is no choice but to file.  If a spouse is disposing of assets, refusing to pay bills, being verbally or physically abusive or engaging in other harmful activities, it is time to consult an attorney to discuss filing for divorce.

To schedule a free initial office consultation to discuss filing for divorce, please contact us at 414-258-1644 or visit us at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC  for further information.

 

How to Prepare for a Divorce

We tell our clients that a little pre-divorce planning goes a long way.  Here are some of the steps you can take to prepare for a divorce and possibly save yourself time, stress, money and attorneys fees.

  1.  Gather all of the relevant financial documentation that you can.  Documents tend to disappear or become inaccessible after a divorce is filed.  After all, your spouse will need these too.  If you can obtain copies and keep them in a safe location or give them to your attorney right away, you will be steps ahead in your divorce.  Supporting documentation for all of your and your spouse’s income, expenses, assets and debts are the most important.  For example, recent paystubs, W-2’s, tax returns, credit card statements, retirement account statements and bank statements are most helpful.  Copies of the titles to your real estate, mortgage statements and real estate tax bills are also necessary.  Also collection statements, whether recent or not, regarding any other asset or debt.
  2. If you do not have access to these documents or your spouse has not told you where they are, do a little digging.  Anything you can find is helpful.  You are entitled to all of this information whether your name is on the asset or debt or not.  Do not feel like you are doing something wrong by accessing this information.  If you have to attempt to “chase” your spouse for this information either directly or through his or her attorney, it is only going to cost you attorneys fees in the end.
  3. Go see an attorney!  Most attorneys will offer free initial consultations.  Don’t pay for a consultation. There are plenty of experienced attorneys who will see you for free.  You should also meet with more than one attorney.  As with anything, it pays to shop around.  You need to feel comfortable with that person and with taking their advice.  Therefore, you need to hire the right attorney for you.
  4. Change your passwords!  All passwords, whether for email, bank accounts or Facebook, should be changed even if you do not think your spouse knows what it is.  We have had many situations where damage has been done simply because the other spouse knows your password or it somehow is retained on your computer.
  5. Get a copy of your credit report.  Again, you are entitled to this information and you know all of the debts that need to be addressed.  Many times you will find debts of which you were not aware.  This is extremely important information to have.
  6. Protect your assets!  Discuss with your attorney whether you should close accounts or withdraw funds from an account.  Contact your bank or financial institution to find out if you can freeze an account pending a divorce.
  7. Close out joint credit cards, if possible, and/or obtain your own credit cards.
  8. Open your own bank accounts.  Change your direct payroll deposit to your own account.
  9. Discuss with your attorney whether you should or need to change your withholdings from your paycheck and whether you should stop/reduce your 401(k) contributions.  Your spouse will still receive one-half of your contributions that you make during your divorce and you may need the extra disposable income until the divorce becomes final.
  10. Take pictures or make a videotape of all of your personal belongings, furniture, etc.  Take an inventory, especially of items of value, and gather receipts or appraisals for those items if available.  This way if items are disposed of or taken, you have proof of what existed prior to the divorce being filed.
  11. Keep a log or journal of all important events, especially if related to children.  It is difficult to remember details, especially in times of stress, and those details may be important to your case later on.
  12. Consider counseling.  You are seeking to end a troubled marriage and are making a major life change.  Divorce is not an easy process and you may need assistance on a variety of different levels.

For further details, please see us at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC or contact us for a free initial office consultation.

Teri M Nelson

Should I File for Divorce?

Whether to file for divorce is one of the most difficult decisions you could ever face. There are no easy answers. If you are asking yourself this question, your marriage is probably already in serious trouble. You should give careful consideration to all of the consequences a divorce could have for you and your family. Here are some thoughts that may help you to decide.

The most important part of this question has to do with why you are thinking about a divorce. There are some serious problems that simply cannot be solved such as physical abuse, child abuse, mental illness, criminal activity, fraud, etc. If you find yourself in one of these situations, there is very little you can do to resolve them especially if your partner is the one who has the problem. For your safety or your child’s safety, you may not have a choice but to seek a divorce to get protection from the legal system.

There are other reasons you may be thinking about a divorce that are not so clear cut but still very serious. For example, drug or alcohol abuse or another addiction could be the issue. Of course, your spouse can seek treatment and if he or she does, this could save your marriage. Unfortunately, many of these people will not seek treatment unless they truly want to and/or until they “hit rock bottom”. Sometimes, the “rock bottom” doesn’t happen until they are charged or convicted of a crime or being in a serious accident. However, sometimes the impetus for change is a divorce – the loss of their marriage or family. In that case, filing for divorce could actually help the person get their life back on track and seek treatment. In either case, if the situation becomes dangerous or unbearable for you or your family, you may need to file for divorce.

Money issues sometimes trigger this question. If you have a spouse who gambles, for instance, or, if your spouse simply cannot manage money or stop spending, you may need to seek some financial orders from the court to protect your assets. If your spouse is making poor financial decisions such as bad business decisions, refusal to pay debts or disposing of assets, then you also may need to file for divorce to prevent a waste of marital money. We are now seeing a lot of cases which involve the loss of a job where the spouse either cannot or will not get a job. They become depressed and sit home doing nothing. This may not arise to the level of having to file for divorce but perhaps talking about it will motivate them to get off the couch.

Infidelity or cheating is a common cause for the question of whether you should get a divorce. The answer varies extremely based upon the individual – can you move past this issue or do you want to? Some people can forgive and move on. To some people, this is an unforgivable offense. Before you make the decision, however, you may want to attempt counseling. Divorce is not an easy answer to marital problems. Cheating is usually a symptom of problems in an individual or a marriage – not necessarily the cause of the problems. If you can resolve the underlying problems, perhaps your marriage can be saved.

There are a variety of other reasons for divorce – growing apart, changes in personality, changes in life views and goals, incompatibility, control issues, verbal abuse and emotional abuse are all common themes. The real question you have to ask yourself is whether these problems can be resolved and, if not, whether you can live with them. As to whether they can be resolved, this is a two-way street. If your spouse is willing to try to resolve them, you should obtain professional help to assist the two of you in working through these issues. If your partner refuses to acknowledge or work on them, then they cannot be fixed. At that point, you need to decide how you want to live the rest of your life.

Divorce is a deeply personal and difficult decision and not something you should rush into. Absent safety issues or financial emergencies, there are not necessarily any legal reasons why you would need to file. You should seek the advice of an attorney so that you are aware of all of the consequences of a divorce to you and your family. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations. If you do decide to file for divorce, make sure you have all of the information you need and are as prepared as possible. Often, a little pre-divorce planning goes a long way in saving you time, money and stress.