What should I do after being served Wisconsin divorce papers?
In order to obtain a divorce in Wisconsin, the divorce itself does not have to be agreed upon by both parties. Wisconsin is a no-fault state, which means a Court can grant a divorce with a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
After you have been served, the timer starts for you. Once you have the divorce paperwork, you have 20 days to provide a written response and counterclaim to the Court and opposing party.
1. Review the Paperwork with a Lawyer
Read the divorce papers carefully to understand the specific allegations against you. Note the requests made in the divorce complaint.
2. File a Response or “Answer”
You must file a response within 20 days of being served in Wisconsin. The answer is a written document addressing the allegations made in the complaint.
Your Answer Will Include:
- Verification: Your answer should be verified by you, meaning that you must swear or affirm under oath that the information contained in your answer is true and accurate.
- Denials or admissions: Respond to each allegation in the divorce complaint by denying them or admitting they are true.
- Affirmative defenses: If you have any defenses to the divorce, such as fraud, duress or lack of jurisdiction you can raise them in your answer.
- Requests for relief: Examples include alimony, child support or property division.
Counterclaims: If you have any grounds for divorce of your own, you can include them in your answer as counterclaims. Explain what you want the Court to order at the end of the divorce, similar to how the petitioner did.
Does it matter who physically serves me the divorce pleadings?
You can be served in two ways: in person or in the mail. Personal delivery must be done using one of the following methods;
- Admission of Service– a form confirming you received a copy of the divorce pleadings.
- Service by the Sheriff’s Department
- Service by the Private Process Server
- Service by someone who is over 18, a resident of Wisconsin and is not a party to the action
- As a last resort, they can complete service by Publication. They MUST show that they have attempted one of the four methods above before resorting to publication. Usually, the court must approve this method first.
How to Avoid a Default Divorce Trial Hearing
If you fail to answer with an Admission of Service, Response, and Counterclaim in 20 days, your spouse can appear in court and ask a judge for a final hearing on all the divorce orders without you being able to participate in the proceedings.
Can I be served if I have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?
If you and your spouse have a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you still can be served with divorce pleadings. These agreements aren’t immune to being thrown out in court or ignored if the case goes to trial.
When Should I Respond?
You only have 20 days to respond after being served. This puts you at a huge disadvantage as your spouse had 90 days to prepare. Time is of the essence - Divergent Family Law attorneys can catch you up before your case proceeds.
What are temporary orders?
During divorce cases, temporary orders are necessary to determine where each spouse will live, when each will see the children, and how they will be financially supported and pay bills during the separation process. Temporary orders are court orders that can be decided by the court in a hearing, or by an agreement between the two spouses in the form of a temporary stipulation that can be negotiated and filed with the help of your attorneys. The stipulated orders are processed without having to appear in court. Once filed, they will carry the same legal protections as a hearing. Temporary orders can remain in effect until the completion of your divorce case.
It is crucial to have an experienced lawyer on your side when temporary orders are discussed. Temporary orders are often considered when final hearing decisions are decided.
120 Days for mediation
The 120 day waiting period required by the State of Wisconsin before a divorce can be granted is designed to allow for mediation between you and your soon-to-be-former spouse. The goal is to cover child custody, division of assets, and other changes without having to go to trial.
120 days may seem like a lot of time now, but all the back and forth can eat up valuable time. With Divergent family Law, you’ll have the professional assistance you need to keep the process moving.
Are all divorce cases settled by the court?
Most Wisconsin divorce cases are resolved outside of the courtroom through attorney-assisted mediation and settlement agreements. Our experienced divorce attorneys will help you and your spouse come to mutual agreements regarding finances, cohabitation, child support and more.
Our flexible payment plans and years of experience make Divergent Family Law attorneys your best choice for protecting your rights to property, income and children.
What if a settlement can’t be reached?
A divorce trial is only necessary when you and your spouse cannot reach a settlement agreement through lawyer-led mediation. While rare, going to trial for divorce can take weeks or even months to reach a final decision. The more issues unresolved from mediation; the longer the trial will take.
Easy Mistakes People Make On Divorce Paperwork
Family Law In Wisconsin
A divorce is very heavy with paperwork. It can be very tedious and sometimes even tricky to fill out. Not having a legal background can make it all that much harder, not knowing the legal consequences the paperwork may have. It is very common that people make mistakes that cause the divorce process to drag out or even simply not be filed properly. That’s why we recommend you use one of our skilled divorce lawyers to guide you through the process.
Below are some of the most common mistakes family law attorneys see:
Using the correct name on your paperwork may seem like a mistake that just would not happen, but divorce documents can be rejected or required to amend if there the names are not consistent on each of the many documents. For example, on one document you may use first, middle, and last name but the next document, you only use the middle initial. It is very important to keep consistent with names on each document to avoid any mishaps.
Checking the Wrong Boxes
When using the state forms, there are a number of different boxes that you will have to check on the paperwork. If one is not paying close enough attention, the wrong box could be checked. If that occurs, you may be potentially waiving your right to something or checking something that will cause the divorce to be rejected.
Failing to Disclose All Assets and Debts
In Wisconsin, parties must disclose all of their assets, debts, and liabilities. If things are left out, this can leave exposure to the case being reopened after the divorce is finalized or being responsible for debt that you didn’t list as martial.
Using the Wrong Address
Using updated addresses on the paperwork is very important. If you list the marital residence but you are not currently living there, all the paperwork will be sent to your spouse, not you. If you move out mid-divorce, be sure to write a letter to the court updating your address to ensure you keep up to date on all the court documents.
If you have been served divorce papers, you only have 20 days to file a counterclaim against the party. While this is not required, it does help secure certain rights that you may have in the divorce process. Pay attention to deadlines and don’t miss them!
Filing for divorce and filing out the paperwork can be time intensive and stressful, especially during this hard point in your life. One way to resolve that stress is to hire one of our experienced family law attorneys. An attorney can help you navigate through the divorce process and take the stress off your shoulders and know it is getting done right.
Schedule a consultation with a family lawyer from Divergent Family Law today.
Divergent Family Law Represents You
The experienced attorneys at Divergent Family Law will help you navigate Wisconsin’s legal system after you’re served. Divergent Family Law has helped Wisconsin couples separate as amicably as possible. We work with:
Wisconsin Divorce Process
- Filing a petition
- Serving Papers
- Temporary orders
- Child custody and placement
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Courtroom trial