How it Works: Filing Your Wisconsin Divorce Forms

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The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Talk to a lawyer today for legal advice

Step 1 → Review the Wisconsin Court’s Basic Guide to Divorce/Legal Separation.

Step 2 → Determine if you will file jointly or alone — You and your spouse can agree to file a Joint-Petition or one of you can file independently.

Step 3 → Determine if you need a Temporary Hearing — You will need a Temporary Hearing if you and your spouse cannot agree on how to share income, bills, or time with your children while the divorce is pending.

Step 4 → Prepare the appropriate forms — You can find standard state-approved forms here.

Step 5 → File the completed forms — File the documents at your county courthouse and pay the filing fee to the Clerk of Circuit Court.

Still not sure which forms you need? Let us help you! If you would like a helping hand, reach out to our attorneys anytime and we would be happy to guide you through the process or even handle it all for you. We can usually draft the proper Petition and all other required pleadings within 24 hours of hiring us—and everything can be completed electronically. No need to take time away from work or the kids to come into the office.


How do I figure out if I should file jointly or separately?

In most cases, this is a matter of personal preference and is based upon the kind of relationship you have or would like to maintain with your spouse. If the decision to divorce is a joint decision or if you believe you will be able to easily cooperate to reach a final agreement on all the issues, you may both agree it is best to file together. But if one party does not want the divorce or if it is important to them for religious or personal reasons not to join in the filing, you may have to file alone. You can only file jointly if both parties agree.

Why does this matter?

It doesn’t matter to the court, but it may matter to you or your spouse. Because divorce filings are public records, sometimes a person may not want to be listed as the Petitioner (the person who initiated the divorce). On the other hand, some people may specifically want the court record to reflect that they filed together. However, filing as a sole Petitioner or a joint Petitioner confers no legal advantage.

What does filing jointly and filing separately mean?

Filing jointly means that you and your spouse are both requesting a divorce from each other. Filing separately means the filing party is requesting a divorce against the non-filing party.


Odds are good that if you are filing a joint petition, you will not need a Temporary Hearing. Temporary Hearings are only necessary when the parties cannot cooperate to temporarily pay bills, share income, or divide the time with their children. If such things cannot be agreed upon, a party can request a Temporary Hearing and a Court Commissioner will decide those things for them. For more information on what happens at a Temporary Order Hearing and how to request one, click here.


Where can I download Wisconsin divorce forms?

  • The best place to get free family law forms is from the Wisconsin Court System. These forms are already formatted for you and meet all the statutory requirements—all you have to do is fill in the blanks. You can do this electronically or you can print the forms from a PDF format and fill in the blanks by hand. Find the forms you need here.
  • The forms are free to download and print. However, you may have to pay a filing fee when you submit the forms to the court.
  • For even more direction, here is list of divorce forms you’ll need to download based on whether you’re filing jointly or separately and without or without children.

Can I get assistance filling them out?

  • The Wisconsin Court System has many free online resources available to guide you. You can find those resources here
  • You can also possibly get assistance from volunteers who assist litigants with filling out and submitting the forms. Contact your county Clerk of Courts to ask if a free self-help clinic or other such volunteers are available in your county.
  • We can also complete the forms for you—usually the same day or within 24 hours. Working with a lawyer will ensure you use the correct forms for the correct county and that they are completed accurately.

What if your spouse won’t sign the divorce papers?

If you are filing a joint petition, both parties must sign the papers. If your spouse refuses to sign them, it means you must file alone — in which case their signature isn’t necessary.


How do I file the completed forms?

You can file the completed forms by taking them to the Clerk of Courts at your county courthouse or by efiling the forms online. If you want to enroll in efiling, you may do so here at a charge of $20.

Can an attorney help me file the forms?

Yes. If you hire us to represent you, we can efile the forms on your behalf.

What Forms Do I Need to File For Divorce In Wisconsin?


Filing jointly with minor children

  • Joint Petition with Minor Children—to jointly start an action for divorce when you have minor children.
  • Financial Disclosure Statement—to identify all the income, assets, and debts to be considered or divided by the court.
  • Proposed Parenting Plan—to detail your custody and placement arrangements for your minor children.
  • Confidential Petition Addendumrequired form where sensitive information such as the parties’ and/or children’s social security numbers and dates of birth are listed so that the information is available to the court but is not accessible to the public

Filing jointly without minor children

  • Joint Petition without Minor Children (PDF) — to jointly start an action for divorce when you have no minor children.
  • Financial Disclosure Statement (PDF) — to identify all the income, assets, and debts to be considered or divided by the court.
  • Confidential Petition Addendum(PDF)-— required form where sensitive information such as the parties’ and/or children’s social security numbers and dates of birth are listed so that the information is available to the court but is not accessible to the public


Filing separately with minor children

Filing separately without minor children

How Do I Serve Divorce Papers in Wisconsin?


 How do I serve my spouse?

  • If your spouse will cooperate, he or she can sign an “Admission of Service.” This is a form your spouse signs acknowledging and accepting the papers. It does not mean that he or she agrees with the papers or with the divorce—only that the papers have been received.
  • If your spouse will not cooperate, they will have to be formally served by either a Sheriff’s Deputy or a private process server.

Do I have to serve my spouse?

If you filed a joint petition, you do not have to serve your spouse because you both initiated the action. But if you filed alone, you must serve your spouse with the papers.

What happens when my spouse is served?

If your spouse must be served, a Sheriff’s Deputy or process server will personally hand the papers to your spouse at their residence or place of employment. It can cost anywhere from approximately $45 to over $100 to have your spouse served.

Can I serve my spouse myself?

No. The Petitioner cannot serve the Respondent directly. However, we can help you determine the best course of action for ensuring your spouse receives the papers.

How Much Does It Cost to File Divorce Papers In Wisconsin?

A divorce is a civil action. It generally costs between $185 and $210 to file the papers. This fee is paid to the County Clerk of Courts at the time you file the papers.

Can I File for Divorce By Mail?

Yes. You can download and print the necessary divorce forms, sign them, and mail them (along with the required fee) to the Clerk of Courts at your county courthouse. You must mail them five sets of documents and must include a self-addressed stamped envelope bearing enough postage for the Clerk to return 4 of the 5 sets of documents to you. The Clerk will contact you if there are any problems with processing your papers. Otherwise, the Clerk will file them and return the extra copies to you for service and for your own records. Filing by mail is not recommended because it is the slowest form of filing.

Can You Get A Divorce Without A Lawyer?

Yes. You have a constitutional right to represent yourself in a court of law, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. To learn why you should hire a Wisconsin divorce lawyer, check out additional resources on why it’s always a good idea to hire a lawyer with experience.

Want to learn more about how to file for divorce in Wisconsin, check out our step by step guide on how to file.