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Oftentimes an individual who is considering getting a divorce in Wisconsin also looks at legal separation as possibility. Furthermore, there appears to be some confusion as to what being legally separated really is. Most people don’t even realize that it is a legal process and just move out of the martial home, considering themselves to be “separated,” which is also known as a “de facto separation.”

Oftentimes an individual who is considering getting a divorce in Wisconsin also looks at legal separation as possibility. Furthermore, there appears to be some confusion as to what being legally separated really is. Most people don’t even realize that it is a legal process and just move out of the martial home, considering themselves to be “separated,” which is also known as a “de facto separation.”  While no longer residing together does sometimes carry weight with the court, it is important to understand that while you are physically apart you are still legally bound, unless you file for and are granted a legal separation or a divorce. This article will provide you with a basic outline of the two very similar (but not the same) legal processes.  

What is legal separation in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, legal separation is when two parties who are married are declared separated by the court and an order is entered addressing alimony, child support, child custody and physical placement.  

If you are wondering how to file for legal separation in Wisconsin the first step would be to consult an experienced Wisconsin family attorney. The process of legal separation in Wisconsin is almost identical to divorce. You should expect for the legal separation to take as long as a divorce and to cost roughly the same. You should not expect a legal separation in Wisconsin to be easier, faster or cheaper than a divorce.  

How does legal separation work in Wisconsin?  

The requirements are almost identical for legal separation and divorce in Wisconsin:

  • You have to be a resident of Wisconsin for 6 months prior to filing
  • You have to be a resident of the county you file in for 30 days prior to filing in that county
  • You have to file a petition for legal separation and properly serve the other party
  • You have to wait 120 days or six months for the court to issue a ruling on separation or divorce.  

Even if you just get a legal separation, if you have minor children you still have to get an order regarding child custody, physical placement and support. You will also need to address alimony because legal separation severs the parties in regard to finances.

You may need to immediately ask the court to issue a temporary order regarding children and their financial support to protect you while the 120 day waiting period elapses.  

Effect of separation vs divorce

If you decide to get a legal separation instead of a divorce you are still legally married. If you ever want to remarry, you will have to get a divorce first. If both parties agree to it, you can have your legal separation converted by the court into an actual divorce, allowing you to remarry six months after the final decree of divorce is granted.  

A legal separation may be converted into a divorce judgment one year after the order granting the legal separation if one party requests it. If both parties request that the legal separation be converted to a legal divorce, it can be converted before a year has passed.  

The real difference between legal separation and divorce in Wisconsin that the legal separation can be revoked and you can continue being married while divorce is final.

Reasons for Legal Separation vs. Reasons for Divorce in Wisconsin

Why get a legal separation instead of a divorce in Wisconsin?

Sometimes people file for legal separation in Wisconsin because they are unsure if they want to go through with a life-changing event like divorce. Another possible reason people file for legal separation is that they would like to remain on their spouse’s insurance plan for financial reasons. Finally, many people do not want a divorce for spiritual or religious reasons and find that a legal separation is an acceptable avenue.  Regardless of your reasons for wanting to file for legal separation in Wisconsin, you should consult with a Wisconsin family law attorney so that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities before you take action.  

Posted 
September 9, 2021
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