General Questions

How long does it take to obtain a divorce?

Wisconsin law requires a four month “cooling off” period to allow parties time to make sure that they want the divorce. Although the statue refers to a four month period, divorces take longer to finalize. If the parties settle the case with an agreement called a “stipulation” or “Marital Settlement Agreement,” they can generally obtain a divorce approximately five to six months after the divorce is filed. If they do not agree, it can be ten to fourteen month before the trial is held to decide the issues.

Can one attorney represent both of us?

It is unethical for an attorney to represent both parties in a divorce action. The attorney owes an undivided duty to his or her client, and cannot represent both parties. If an attorney is retained on behalf of one party, the other party may decide not to hire his or her own attorney, and may try to negotiate with the other attorney alone. Because the legal issues may become quite complex, you should think twice before attempting to proceed without an attorney. However, in some situations it does work.

Will my case be like others I’ve heard of?

Your divorce is unique. Thus, trying to compare what is happening in your case to what happened in cases involving friends, family members, or acquaintances can lead to frustration and misunderstanding. Many people need emotional support as they go through the divorce process. Friends and family members can be a good source of this support. However, the legal aspects of your case need to be discussed with an attorney familiar with the law and the facts of your case.

How do I know which documents to sign?

Sometimes during the course of the divorce action, people are asked to sign documents by their spouse. Examples of these documents are tax returns, deeds, offers to purchase, or other types of agreements. Do not sign any document without first discussing it with your attorney.

Can I date while the divorce is pending?

Under our no-fault laws, there is no legal impediment to dating while the divorce is pending. However, you must remember that you are still married, and dating another person while you are married is not encouraged. If nothing else, it often stirs up emotions in the other spouse. If you want to date, use discretion. In other words, do not openly flaunt your dating in front of your spouse, your children or others. Each situation is unique. Thus, it is important to discuss this issue with your attorney.

If child custody or placement are issues in your divorce, we strongly urge you to refrain from dating without first discussing it with your attorney to learn all of the implications.

What is the waiting period before remarriage?

After the divorce is granted, each party must wait six months before he or she may remarry. You may not be thinking of remarriage at this time. However, often during the pendency of a divorce action the individuals meet other people, and in some instances would like to marry as soon as possible after the granting of their divorce.

One of the purposes of the six month waiting period is to allow the parties to make absolutely sure that they want the divorce. If for any reason they want the divorce set aside during this period, all they need to do is return to court and the Judge will automatically vacate the divorce.