Jun 23

Equal Division of Property in Wisconsin Divorce

An equal division of the property included in the marital estate is the starting point in a Wisconsin divorce action. This does not mean that each person receives one-half of each and every asset. Each is presumed to be entitled to one-half of the total net value of the marital estate – value of the divisible assets minus marital liabilities.
Each is awarded specific assets and assigned specific debts. To equalize, or even up, the division, an asset or portion of an asset may be “moved” from one to the other or a schedule of payments may be established in order to achieve the desired division.
Although an equal division may the starting point, a Wisconsin Judge can divide the estate differently after considering a number of factors. Some of the factors are the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, property brought to the marriage, whether there are substantial assets that are not going to be divided, the earning capacity of the parties, their contributions to the marriage, whether there is a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement with provisions concerning the division of property, and other factors that are determined to be relevant to the parties’ situation.
While it may appear to be a simple process, property division issues can be complicated. What happened for one couple can be very different than what might happen for another couple. Unlike child support or maintenance where a party can ask the Judge to modify the amount or length even if the other party does not agree, once the case is concluded and the division of property accepted by the court absent agreement to do so a party cannot ask that a Judge modify the division. Therefore, it is important to proceed with caution especially if a lawyer knowledgeable in the area of family law is not involved. Even if the decision is to proceed without attorneys, scheduling time with an attorney to discuss these issues can be beneficial.