How are divorce disputes resolved?

Learn about divorce dispute resolution options from award-winning Wisconsin family law attorneys

When high tension is preventing you from negotiating a divorce with your spouse, mediation, arbitration or bringing your case to trial are available options.

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Types of divorce resolutions

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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

Sometimes, negotiation between the divorcing parties or lawyers is not the best option or has failed despite the best efforts of the spouses and their divorce attorneys. In that case, most people will elect to attempt a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in order to avoid the cost and uncertainty of trial (see next step). The main forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration.


This is a non-binding process in which the parties will select a mutually agreeable third-party lawyer to assist them in negotiations. With the right mediator and the right attorneys, almost any case is resolvable at mediation.

Discussions at mediation are confidential, and communications between the parties are inadmissible in court. In the event that an agreement is not reached at mediation, either spouse is free to proceed to trial as though mediation never occurred.

Learn more about the mediation process and cost information associated with this type of divorce.


Arbitration is similar to mediation in that the parties select a mutually agreeable third-party lawyer to assist them in resolving the matter. However, unlike the role of a mediator in mediation, an arbitrator acts like a judge and makes binding, legally enforceable decisions that the divorcing spouses must abide by.

Before heading to arbitration, the parties will sign an agreement in which they agree that the arbitrator will decide any disputed issues. In this case, there is no trial because the arbitrator will have decided all disputed issues.

The benefits of arbitration over trial include reduced cost, less formality, and the ability to choose the decision-maker. In contrast, a trial is decided by a judge who is randomly assigned to the divorce at the beginning of the case.


For Wisconsin divorce cases, a trial is a last resort when all other resolution methods have failed. It is important to point out that more than 90 percent of our firm’s divorce cases resolve without the need for trial—a statistic we are very proud of.

Sometimes, however, trial is unavoidable, and in that case, you will need an attorney who is an experienced and respected litigator. At trial, testimony and evidence are presented to a judge over the course of one or multiple days. A trial is very formal and requires the parties and their lawyers to follow the rules of evidence in presenting their cases.

Ultimately, the judge decides all of the outstanding issues and incorporates those decisions into a judgment of divorce. Trial is the most expensive aspect of any Wisconsin divorce and only occurs in contested divorce cases.

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Build evidence & case

We'll gather evidence that supports your interest and not your position in order to deliver a divorce outcome that's favorable to you and fair to your spouse.


File a petition with the court

We'll file the right papers so they can be reviewed by your local county court.

We have over 100 years of experience in Wisconsin family law

Our divorce attorneys bring privacy, objectivity and comfort to the forefront of their client relationships in order to make the process cost-effective and efficient for both parties. We've also won awards for cases involving the following practice areas of family law in Wisconsin:

Alimony & Maintenance

Marriage isn’t always equal—and neither is divorce. You may have made unequal caretaking or financial contributions to the family. We will help you fight to make sure those contributions are acknowledged and compensated.

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Child Custody & Visitation

Learn whether sole custody or joint custody is best for your children and find a visitation schedule that will work for your family.

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Child Relocation

Do you have questions about where you can relocate your children in the state of Wisconsin? We can help you understand the laws surrounding relocating a child.

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Child Support

When you’re a parent going through a divorce, your first concern is likely your children. Our lawyers are experts in guiding clients through the options available. We understand your top priority is making sure your children are taken care of.

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Divorce is difficult & exhausting, but it's not devastating or complicated with the right attorneys on your side.

Our Approach to Divorce

Property & Assets

When you’re facing a division of marital property, it can be tough to ensure you’ll get a fair share of the assets. We’ll work with you to determine what is and is not part of the marital estate and will help you claim what is rightfully yours.

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Legal Separation

An alternative to divorce that still allows you to define your rights to your children and finances while claiming your independence.

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Military Divorce

We've been helping clients navigate the complex Wisconsin military divorce laws for decades.

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Whether paternity is established by acknowledgement or only after genetic tests, we are here to help you through the process from start to finish.

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