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Kevin O'Flaherty

Understanding Collaborative Divorce in Wisconsin

Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience. However, there is an alternative to the traditional adversarial approach: collaborative divorce. In Wisconsin, the collaborative divorce process offers a more amicable and cooperative way to resolve marital disputes. In this blog post, you will learn about the collaborative divorce process in Wisconsin, its key principles, and how it compares to contested divorce. You will also discover the importance of co-parenting plans, the role of financial advisors and mental health professionals, and tips on preparing for a collaborative divorce.

The Collaborative Divorce Process in Wisconsin

The collaborative divorce process in Wisconsin involves two clients and two attorneys. They are bound by a formal agreement, and together utilize a collaborative approach to resolve any issues without involving the court for adjudication. The primary purpose of the collaborative divorce process is to provide an amicable and cooperative approach to resolving marital disputes, emphasizing communication and problem-solving. In a collaborative divorce, other professionals such as mental health professionals and financial advisors may be jointly selected to provide input and ensure informed decision-making, rather than taking sides. The objective of the meetings in a collaborative divorce is to reach a Marital Settlement Agreement with the help of family law attorneys who are trained in collaborative law.

By choosing the collaborative divorce process, couples can:

  • Avoid the emotional turmoil and financial strain often associated with contested divorce
  • Work together to find solutions that work best for their family
  • Focus on communication and problem-solving rather than litigation
  • Achieve a more positive outcome for all family members
  • Foster a healthier post-divorce relationship between the spouses.

Key Principles of Collaborative Divorce

The essential elements of collaborative divorce include:

  • Voluntary involvement
  • The sharing of pertinent information
  • The emphasis on what is in the best interests of all family members
  • The support of mental health professionals when needed

Voluntary participation in collaborative divorce is essential as it provides an opportunity for both parties to have a voice in the outcome, ensuring that all parties involved are content with the result and that the best interests of all family members are taken into consideration when parties agree on the terms.

The open exchange of information in collaborative divorce is equally vital, enabling both parties to be aware of all pertinent information, guaranteeing that all decisions are made with full knowledge of the facts and that the family’s best interests are taken into account. By prioritizing the best interests of all family members, the resolution is equitable for all parties and ensures that both parties are satisfied with the outcome. To understand some key difference between collaborative and cooperative divorces read our article, Collaborative Divorce vs. Cooperative Divorce Explained.

Collaborative Family Law Council

The Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin is an organization of professionals who work together to learn, practice, and promote the collaborative process for problem-solving and a respectful resolution of family law issues. The aim of the Collaborative Family Law Council is to furnish resources and assistance for families pursuing a collaborative divorce in Wisconsin.

By providing a safe and respectful environment for families to resolve disputes, the Collaborative Family Law Council offers access to experienced professionals to assist in the process. The Collaborative Family Law Council’s procedure involves both parties and their respective collaborative lawyers working together to reach a settlement without the involvement of the court, creating a secure atmosphere for families to address their conflicts.

Child Custody and Support in Collaborative Divorce

In collaborative divorce, child custody is discussed and negotiated between the parties and their respective attorneys, with the aim of reaching a settlement outside of court. This process involves specific negotiation rules to facilitate a resolution without court proceedings.

If children are part of the divorce, child support, custody, and placement must be addressed. Formulating a co-parenting plan is essential in collaborative divorce as it helps guarantee that the children’s best interests are prioritized. The plan should be customized to the family’s unique requirements and should be formulated to foster a healthy and beneficial relationship between the parents and the children.

Importance of Co-Parenting Plans

A co-parenting plan is a written document that outlines the responsibilities of childrearing and decision-making between divorced parents with regard to the child. Co-parenting plans are essential in providing a secure atmosphere for children and promoting positive relationships between parents and children after the divorce.

Co-parenting plans may facilitate a reduction in contention between parents, provide a feeling of security for children, and guarantee that both parents are included in the child’s life. Additionally, they can help to ensure that both parents are in agreement when it comes to decisions concerning the child’s upbringing.

Property Division and Financial Considerations

Property division in collaborative divorce in Wisconsin is the process of equitably dividing marital property and assets between the spouses. Wisconsin is a community property state, so the court begins with a presumption to equally divide all assets, debts, and liabilities, including real estate. A marriage settlement agreement must be presented to the court at the final hearing. Once approved, the court will grant a divorce.

Financial advisors can assist both parties in comprehending the financial repercussions of the divorce and guarantee that the Marital Settlement Agreement is equitable. Financial advisors can also help the parties comprehend the tax implications of the divorce and provide guidance on how to divide assets and liabilities most effectively.

Role of Financial Advisors

A financial advisor can serve as a financial neutral in a collaborative divorce, offering impartial financial education and planning to assist couples in achieving financial settlements. They can provide assistance in understanding the financial position, organizing financial documents, and planning for the future.

A financial advisor can assist couples in:

  • Making well-informed choices concerning their financial wellbeing
  • Presenting impartial financial counsel
  • Assisting couples in comprehending their financial circumstances
  • Helping couples arrange financial records and plan for the future, ensuring a smoother transition post-divorce.

Mental Health Professionals in Collaborative Divorce

Mental health professionals in collaborative divorce play a significant role in assisting couples to effectively manage the emotional aspects of divorce. They help:

  • Identify potential emotional and psychological impediments to settlement
  • Address any emotional and psychological issues
  • Establish appropriate parameters for a successful co-parenting relationship
  • Provide support to the entire family throughout the divorce process.

Counseling and therapy can be beneficial in collaborative divorce, as it can aid both parties in understanding their feelings and addressing any potential issues that may arise during the process. Moreover, counseling and therapy can assist the parties in honing their communication skills and creating a more positive atmosphere for the children.

By addressing the emotional and psychological challenges of divorce, mental health professionals can help create a smoother transition for all family members, fostering a healthier post-divorce relationship between the spouses and their children.

Benefits of Counseling and Therapy

Counseling and therapy in collaborative divorce can assist individuals in managing their emotions, developing communication skills, and achieving a mutually beneficial agreement. It can also facilitate collaboration between individuals and their lawyers, as well as provide a fresh outlook on their needs and preferences in partnerships.

Counseling and therapy can assist individuals in recognizing and handling their emotions in a constructive manner, thus aiding them in dealing with the challenges of divorce. Furthermore, counseling and therapy can help individuals develop their communication skills with their spouse, leading to improved comprehension and more successful negotiations.

Preparing for a Collaborative Divorce in Wisconsin

When preparing for a collaborative divorce in Wisconsin, it is crucial to:

  1. Seek advice from professionals, such as financial advisors, mental health professionals, and collaborative divorce lawyers, to ensure you have the necessary support and guidance throughout the process.
  2. Gather documentation, including financial records, tax returns, and other pertinent documents, to facilitate a smoother negotiation process.
  3. Be transparent with your spouse, sharing information openly and honestly to foster a cooperative and productive environment.

Being upfront about your financial standing, assets, and obligations is crucial in the collaborative divorce process.

Choosing the Right Collaborative Divorce Lawyer

couple talking to lawyer

Selecting an appropriate collaborative divorce lawyer is integral to achieving a favorable outcome, as they can provide guidance throughout the process and represent your interests. In order to select an appropriate collaborative divorce lawyer, it is essential to thoroughly investigate their experience and qualifications, read reviews, and schedule consultations.

When selecting a collaborative divorce lawyer, consider the following:

  • Inquire about their experience in collaborative divorce
  • Ask about their experience addressing pertinent issues
  • Determine if they are a suitable choice for collaborative divorce

By choosing the right collaborative divorce lawyer, you can ensure a smoother process and a more positive outcome for all parties involved.

Comparing Collaborative Divorce to Contested Divorce

Collaborative divorce emphasizes cooperation and negotiation as opposed to litigation, and is a more economical and less taxing alternative to contested divorce. In a contested divorce, parties often experience increased stress, animosity, and financial strain due to court proceedings and the adversarial nature of the process. On the other hand, collaborative divorce focuses on working together to find solutions that work best for the family, ultimately leading to a more positive outcome for all family members.

In Wisconsin, the waiting period before the commencement of the final hearing is 120 days. By choosing the collaborative divorce process, couples can often reach a resolution more quickly and cost-effectively than through contested divorce. Moreover, the collaborative process fosters a healthier post-divorce relationship between the spouses, providing a more stable environment for their children. To learn more about the different types of divorce in Wisconsin read our article, Types of Divorce in Wisconsin.


In conclusion, collaborative divorce in Wisconsin offers a more amicable and cooperative approach to resolving marital disputes. By focusing on communication, problem-solving, and the best interests of all family members, the collaborative process provides a healthier and more cost-effective alternative to contested divorce. With the support of collaborative divorce lawyers, financial advisors, and mental health professionals, couples can navigate the complexities of divorce and create a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a collaborative divorce in Wisconsin?

A collaborative divorce in Wisconsin is an alternative to traditional litigation, which allows separating spouses to work with lawyers and other specialists to negotiate a settlement and avoid going to court.

Collaborative divorce is a process that is designed to be less adversarial than traditional litigation. It involves both spouses working together with their lawyers and other professionals to reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial. The process is confidential and allows the parties to maintain confidentiality.

What is the downside of collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce can be time consuming and costly if an agreement is not reached, as the entire process must start over.

Furthermore, courts may not always recognize this approach as a valid settlement option.

How long does an uncontested divorce take in Wisconsin?

On average, an uncontested divorce in Wisconsin can take anywhere from six months to a year. It will be shorter if both parties agree on the terms of the divorce.

Is Wisconsin a 50 50 state for divorce?

In Wisconsin, all marital property and assets will be divided 50/50 in the event of a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, with the exception of property gifted to an individual spouse or inherited by each person.

Thus, it can be said that Wisconsin is a 50/50 state for divorce.

How does a co-parenting plan benefit children in a collaborative divorce?

Co-parenting plans offer a stable and secure environment for children, fostering strong relationships between parents and children post-divorce.

These plans can help to ensure that both parents are involved in the child’s life, providing emotional and financial support. They can also help to reduce conflict between the parents, allowing them to focus on the needs of the children.

Read here to learn more about the Wisconsin divorce process and recent updates to Wisconsin divorce laws.

If you are looking for a Wisconsin divorce attorney to assist you in this matter, please click here to find a Wisconsin divorce lawyer near you. 

While we serve most of Wisconsin, if you’re in the Kenosha, WI area and are looking for an experienced Kenosha divorce attorney to assist you, please feel free to reach out to O’Flaherty Law of Kenosha at: 

O'Flaherty Law of Kenosha

7520 39th Ave

Kenosha WI 53142

(262) 546-7682

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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