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How To File For Divorce In Wisconsin

Filing for divorce in Wisconsin isn’t easy. In fact, divorce is one of the most difficult times in many people’s lives, and unfortunately, it can be tough and confusing. You might not be sure where to begin with your proceedings, making it more difficult to file.

But we’re here to help.

If you’re struggling with your case, the divorce attorneys at Karp & Iancu are here to lend a hand. With experience in thousands of cases, we’ll help you file and get the fair division of assets you deserve.

It’s Free & Confidential

In the meantime, read through the guide below outlining how the divorce process in Wisconsin works.

1. Types Of Divorce 

Understanding the types of divorce and choosing the one best for your situation is a crucial first step. When you’re seeking to end a marriage, there are multiple options. These include contested divorce, uncontested divorce, collaborative & cooperative divorce, and mediated divorce. While not technically a type of divorce, legal separation is also an option for Wisconsin couples looking to end their marriage.

Learn more about the types of divorce available to married Wisconsin couples.

2. Draft, File and Serve the Papers 

Either you or your spouse will draft, file, and serve the divorce papers. The initial papers are drafted by our team within one day of retaining us. Since you’ll be able to sign these papers electronically, we can typically have the divorce papers filed with the Wisconsin court system within 48 hours of retaining us. After the papers are filed with the court system, we’ll discuss your options for the service of the divorce papers to your spouse.

Learn more about drafting, filing and serving divorce papers in Wisconsin here.

3. Obtain Temporary Orders 

In some divorce cases, most commonly contested divorce, temporary orders are needed. They’ll help guide financial and custody disputes throughout the divorce process. When a temporary order motion is filed, a hearing will be held within 30 to 45 days; depending on which Wisconsin county your divorce case is in.

Another option, most common in uncontested divorce, collaborative & cooperative divorce, and mediated divorce cases, temporary agreements (or temporary stipulations) can be signed by both spouses to avoid a hearing in court.

Learn more about obtaining temporary orders and agreements here.

4. Financial Discovery

A crucial step in all divorce cases is the exchange of all financial information between both parties; including income, assets, debts, and liabilities. In some cases, one spouse may be resistant to providing this information and a formal financial discovery is needed. 

Learn more about the financial discovery phase here.

5. Negotiation of Final Settlement 

Sometimes, in non-complex cases, an informal offer followed by a counter offer will suffice to reach a divorce settlement. This type of negotiation often takes place over phone or email.

In more tedious divorce cases where the issues are more numerous or complex, settlement conferences may be needed. This type of negotiation takes place in-person and involves both spouses and their attorneys.
Learn more about negotiations and final divorce settlements here.

6. Divorce Resolution


In mediated divorce cases, a settlement agreement through mediation can work. While mediation isn’t legally binding, the conversations are confidential and inadmissible in court if the case makes it there. Divorce negotiations via mediation involve a mutual third party attorney, a mediator and both spouses.


In collaborative, cooperative, and uncontested divorce cases, arbitration can be a means to a final divorce settlement. While arbitration is very similar to mediation, the results are legally binding. Typically arbitration is less onerous and less expensive than divorce settlements reached through trial.


In complex and contested divorce cases, trial may be necessary. A typical length of a divorce trial ranges from 1 to 3 days, and a randomly assigned county judge will decide the final settlement. Like arbitration, the results of a divorce trial are legally binding.

Learn more about divorce resolution via mediation, arbitration or trial here.

Cost of Divorce

The final cost of a divorce is dependent on the complexity of the case and the means of resolution. With this in mind, we offer  two types of fee structures. Learn more about those fee structures here.

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