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Kevin O'Flaherty

There have been no significant changes for Wisconsin alimony (spousal support) in 2024. It’s still important to understand the basics of Wisconsin spousal support, so that you’re not surprised during your divorce. This article will discuss alimony laws for the state of Wisconsin and give you a general overview of Wisconsin alimony laws.

What is Alimony in the state of Wisconsin

In Wisconsin alimony is also known as spousal support, the court will order financial support to be paid by one spouse to the other spouse.

Alimony and spousal support in Wisconsin

The Types of Alimony in Wisconsin

Rehabilitative Alimony

This type of alimony is designed to get one spouse back on their feet. This happens when a spouse is working on their college degree or decide to get further job training and then the divorce happens, and the spouse needs monetary support while finishing their degree or job training. This type of alimony will be set for a short period of time and will have a beginning and end date for this type of maintenance.

Compensatory Alimony

This type of alimony occurs when a spouse put their career on hold while supporting the other spouse to further the other spouse’s career and therefore needs to be compensated for their support of the other spouse. This type of alimony is rare.

Lifestyle Maintenance

This type of alimony is the most common type of alimony that the Wisconsin courts give. This type of alimony is awarded so that the spouse can maintain their lifestyle that they enjoyed while they were married. This is typically awarded in long-term marriages compared to short-term marriages.  

Permanent Alimony

A judge can award permanent alimony, this is used in situations where the marriage has been a long-term marriage and now one spouse has become completely dependent on the other spouse monetarily. This will also be awarded in situations where one spouse is in advanced age or where their health is failing.  

What are the Factors for Alimony in the State of Wisconsin?

In the state of Wisconsin following a divorce annulment or legal separation the court can grant what is known as maintenance payments to either spouse for a limited period of time or for a longer period of time. This maintenance is known as alimony or spousal support.  

The court will look at many factors in making its determination for alimony. Some factors the court will look to include the following:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age and emotional well-being of the parties
  • The division of property during the divorce hearing
  • The educational level of each of the spouses at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce.
  • The earning capacity of the spouse that is receiving spousal support including their educational level of attainment, training, job skills, length of employment history, length of time that the spouse spent away from working because of the marriage, the time and expenses that will be necessary for a party to find suitable employment
  • The likelihood that the party receiving maintenance can become self-supporting without relying on the other spouse and the lifestyle the spouse enjoyed while married.
  • The tax consequences to each of the spouses.
  • Agreements made by the spouses during the marriage or before the marriage.
  • The contribution of one spouse to the other for education training and earning potential to the other spouse
  • Other factors that the court deems relevant
  • The court in Wisconsin will not look to marital misconduct in determining the allocation of spousal support.

How Long will I have to pay maintenance in Wisconsin?

The amount of time one spouse will pay the other spouse alimony maintenance or spousal support (they are all the same thing) depends on the type of maintenance that was awarded. Upon the death of the paying spouse alimony payments will end. If there is a substantial change in circumstances like the spouse who is receiving alimony moves in with their new love interest or partner and begins to “cohabitate” with their new partner, then spousal support payments will end. Spousal support of alimony payments will end when the spouse that is receiving alimony payments remarries someone new.  

The duration of alimony payments will be decided by a family court judge in the state of Wisconsin. The length of the marriage is a big factor in determining how long alimony must be paid in the state of Wisconsin, one common formula for alimony is that for every three years of marriage there will be one year of alimony payments paid by one spouse to the other spouse.

What happens if I do not pay alimony in Wisconsin?

What Happens if I do not pay Alimony in the state of Wisconsin?

Not paying alimony is a very bad idea, when this happens the alimony that was to be paid the debt, becomes what is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected in a number of ways through wage garnishment, mediation, or even small claims courts. You can also get in larger trouble if the judge finds that you are failing to comply with the court ordered alimony and you can end up in jail for a contempt of court charge against the spouse who is refusing or simply not paying alimony.

I am afraid of Alimony is there any way I do not have to pay by entering into a prenuptial agreement or post nuptial agreement in the state of Wisconsin?

A prenuptial agreement is a good way for soon to be spouses to work out their desires and wishes in the event that the marriage does not work out. You can essentially contract out of paying future alimony in the event of divorce with your soon to be spouse, you may even enter into what is known as a post nuptial agreement in which you can also contract out of paying alimony in the event of a divorce. You have to tread carefully in any agreement and make sure that the other spouse or soon to be spouse, has an attorney review the pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement with them independently so that the spouse or soon to be spouse knows and understands what they are contracting into to and that they are fully aware of their rights that they are waiving. It is important to note that you cannot contract out of paying child support. Each parent in the state of Wisconsin has a duty to support their child financially and must also provide health insurance for their children.

How will my Alimony payments be taxed in the State of Wisconsin?

For federal taxes all Wisconsin alimony payments are deductible by the spouse who is making alimony payments, and for all spouses who are receiving alimony payments this income is considered gross income for federal income tax purposes. To qualify as alimony under the IRS the following elements must be satisfied:

  • The alimony payments are in cash.
  • The former spouses the one paying alimony and the other party who is receiving alimony must live in separate households.
  • The payments from one party to the other party are used only for alimony payments.

What is an Alimony Mediation in the State of Wisconsin?

In the state of Wisconsin there is what is known as alimony mediators who can be brought into a situation where you have soon to be former spouses disputing issues surrounding alimony. The mediator can help the parties come to an agreement regarding alimony and other issues such as division of assets debts and other issues that the parties are having, so that the parties do not have to attend court. Mediation is a good way to avoid going to court all together and thus will eliminate the need for litigation. If the parties cannot or will not agree to stipulation on alimony and other issues the parties will have no choice but to go to court and litigate the issues.

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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