Do you have to be legally separated before you get divorced?

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Do you have to be legally separated before you get divorced?

My Wife and I have been separated for 7 months but no paperwork. I’m trying to find the cheapest easiest way to get a divorce,we don’t have any kids and both have our stuff back. Can we file for divorce on-line or get papers on-line without being legally separated?

Asked on October 31, 2010 under Family Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No you do not need to be legally separated to obtain a divorce in WI.  However there are other requirements. First of all the residency issue. A court can only grant a divorce to parties when 1 of the parties has been a resident of the state for 6 months. Further, a case cannot be started in a county until 1 of the parties has resided in such county for at least 30 days.  Secondly, in order to start an action, a summons and a petition must be filed by the party seeking the divorce the ("petitioner") with the clerk of courts in the appropriate county and a filing fee paid. Then, a summons and petition must be personally served, usually by a sherriff, on the other spouse (the "respondent"). In most cases, at the same time as the divorce petition is filed, there will also be filed papers to schedule a temporary hearing. Typically, this will occur within a couple of weeks.  Finally, in cases without a custody fight over the children, a divorce will usually be resolved in about 6 to 9 month more or less; if custody is involved, the case may take twice as long.

Note:  And of course before doing anything you should decide is whether or not you want an attorney to represent you.  If not here is a link that you may find to be of help:  http://www.wicourts.gov/services/public/prose.htm


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