Do I need to hire a divorce lawyer?
Due to the availability on online forms, more and more people these days are attempting DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce in which they do all of their own paperwork and represent themselves in court instead of hiring a lawyer. In a case where the marriage is short, there are no children, no assets and no liabilities, and both spouses are self-supporting, a DIY divorce may be reasonable. However, in most cases, there are complex issues that may not even be known to the people going through the divorce, such as how to divide a qualified retirement plan or how child support is calculated in a shared placement arrangement. Also, contrary to what a lot of people believe, hiring a divorce lawyer does not need to lead to a bigger conflict. In fact, a good divorce lawyer can help their client reach a fair settlement without the need to go to trial. A few other reasons why it is a good idea to hire a divorce lawyer, include:
- Divorce is a confusing process. A good divorce lawyer can complete all of the necessary paperwork and file the paperwork in a timely manner. The lawyer will explain each step in the divorce process and explain the person’s rights and give him or her options on how to proceed. A lawyer can expedite the process, and ensure that your rights and interests are protected. It is best to hire an attorney that specializes in family law instead of a general practitioner due to the constant changes in family law. A family law attorney stays informed of these constant changes. It is difficult to change decisions after a court has approved an agreement, and some decisions such as property division cannot be reopened after the divorce except in some rare instances.
- A lawyer is a problem-solver. A good divorce lawyer can provide objective, non-emotional advice and help you achieve a fair settlement that resolves all issues in the case. The lawyer will advise you of your rights, help determine what you are entitled to under the law and help you understand the long-term ramifications of decisions. A lawyer can tell you if your position on a certain issue has any merit and the possible legal consequences of different decisions and process choices.
How much does a divorce attorney cost?
Most divorce attorneys charge an hourly rate to their clients. The hourly rate is based upon the attorney’s experience, knowledge, and anticipated complexity of the case. At the conclusion of the free half-hour consultation, I quote a retainer which is an advanced fee that is credited against the total fees and disbursements of the case. Each case is difference and thus each divorce costs a different amount based on the amount of attorney involvement.
What are the grounds for divorce in Wisconsin?
A person filing for divorce only has to state in the divorce petition that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. That means that there is no good chance for reconciliation, and the parties are unable to work out their differences. In Wisconsin, a judge will nearly always grant a divorce even if the person that did not file the petition for divorce says that the marriage is not irretrievably broken.
What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation?
Divorce and legal separation have the same procedures. In both instances, the court is required to make orders regarding custody, placement and child support if children are involved, spousal maintenance, and property division. The time frame is the same for divorce and legal separation. The only difference is that with a legal separation, the parties cannot marry others. In a divorce, both parties can remarry after 6 months from the date of divorce. Often people elect a legal separation due to their religious beliefs, or if they believe that the marriage could be repaired in the future. If parties reconcile after a legal separation is granted, they can request that the legal separation be revoked instead of having to get remarried to each other. After one year from the granting of legal separation, one party can make a written request to ask the court to convert the case to a divorce.
What is an annulment?
In order for a court to grant an annulment, the court must find certain grounds exist to justify the annulment. Some people think that just because they have a short marriage, they would qualify for an annulment. That is not true in Wisconsin. In order for the court to grant an annulment in Wisconsin, the court must find that a party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage, either because of their age, mental incapacity, the influence of alcohol or drugs, or that a party was induced to enter the marriage by force or duress, or by fraud involving the essentials of the marriage.
How long do I need to reside in Wisconsin in order to file for divorce?
One party must be a bona fide resident of Wisconsin for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the divorce action. As to which county a party would file the divorce case in, that person must have been a resident of the county where they wish to file for 30 days prior to the filing of the divorce action.
How does a divorce start?
Unless it’s a joint filing (where the husband and wife jointly ask the court to grant a divorce), a divorce is started by one party filing a summons and petition for Divorce. The petition states the biographical information of the parties and the marriage, including addresses, birth dates, date of marriage, and children’s names and birth dates. The petitioner also includes what the party is requesting in the divorce case, such as child support, custody and placement orders, spousal maintenance, and property division.
If a party needs temporary court orders while the divorce is pending, he/she can file a document entitled Order to show cause for temporary orders along with a signed affidavit. A hearing for temporary orders is typically heard within 4 to 6 weeks. A court will grant temporary orders regarding payment of bills, custody and placement of the children, child support and any other necessary orders. This hearing is heard by a family court commissioner.
How long does the divorce process last?
Once the other party has been served with the summons and petition for divorce, there is a mandatory 120 day waiting period before a court can grant a divorce. If parties have not reached an agreement after 120 days, the length of the divorce will be longer as the court will give them time to try to reach an agreement. If the parties still have not reached an agreement on all issues several months after the expiration of the 120 days, many courts will schedule the case for a trial in which the judge will decide all disputed issues.