Divorce process in Wisconsin
September 21, 2018 3:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm dating a guy from the US, Wisconsin to be precise. It's early days... but I want to be cautious. And maybe cautiously hopeful it might be a thing worth pursuing. He's been separated from his wife physically for at least 6 months (living in UK, she's in Madison). What is the process for divorcing in that state? Is there anything I should be aware of as a clueless Brit?

Yes, I know he is still married. That doesn't bother me particularly, I think I have a good grip on the fact it is over and the reasons behind it. I am mostly curious around the process.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Wisconsin Court System website has a PDF Basic Guide to Divorce/Legal Separation with a flowchart.
posted by readinghippo at 3:16 PM on September 21, 2018

Are they legally separated in addition to being physically separated? If so, they can convert to a divorce after 1 year, and no re-marriage anywhere in the world for 6 months post-divorce/post-conversion. I imagine he'd have to return to WI to complete that procedure.
posted by basalganglia at 3:19 PM on September 21, 2018

Wisconsin is one of a handful of community property states. This has implications in the division of property.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 4:06 PM on September 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Is he still a WI resident? He can file for divorce in the place he has residency. No need to muddle with WI law.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:23 PM on September 21, 2018

If he came to the UK directly from WI, he's almost certainly still a WI resident. Basically, you have to move to another state with the intention of remaining to become a resident.

Blunt talk: I don't think there's much moral distinction between sleeping with a separated or a divorced person, but if you are doing random research on the Internet rather than talking to him about it, that's a good sign you are not on the same page with regard to the relationship. I don't think I've ever seen a good outcome to the "one person is wishing and dreaming and speculating about divorces, the other isn't even talking about it" scenario. Wisconsin's a no-fault state. It has a four-month waiting period for a divorce to be granted (from the time you file papers). Unless, like, he's in the armed forces or something and thus unable to avoid an overseas posting and she's considerate enough to wait til he can get back, if either of them wanted to be divorced, they would be going through the process now. It's not over because, well, it's not over.
posted by praemunire at 10:07 PM on September 21, 2018 [5 favorites]

I um..starting dating my current partner while going through a protracted and messy divorce.

It wasn’t easy for our relationship, and many times as the one going through the divorce I felt very guilty about everything, but we made it through. It took a lot of communication.

Divorces can be messy and take a long time, the relationship can be long dead but the legal wrangling can persist for distressingly long times.

My advice, based on what my partner told me as she went through my divorce with me, is for you to be as removed as possible from the details. Also set a deadline for when you expect things to be filed and finalized. It may take up to a year. Or more. Depending on how complicated things get.

If my situation is any guide, it’s possible for a great relationship to form and grow under these circumstances but it’s not easy and you need to define and state clearly what your boundaries and limits are, then hold this person accountable to getting the divorce final. And if they don’t respect your boundaries, be prepared to DTMFA.
posted by nikaspark at 6:05 AM on September 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

As a divorced person, the concept that if they wanted to be divorced, the process would have been started is not consistent with my experience. I do not know anything about his circumstances, but I was separated from my ex for 3 or 4 years before the legal process began. There were good legal, financial and emotional reasons for it.

If you truly believe his relationship with his wife is over, then getting a divorce is just a matter of time and money and often lawyers. Plenty of people do it in Wisconsin and all over the world. Don't sweat the details. He may not even be in control of the timing even if he wants to be. Even with my divorce where we were both pretty much on the same page and wanted it to happen in a timely manner, once the lawyers got involved, things slowed down considerably.
posted by AugustWest at 6:24 AM on September 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Someone who is divorced in Wisconsin can remarry in another state before 6 months are up. They can't remarry in Wisconsin within 6 months of a divorce. I know because I married my husband in Ohio less than 6 months after his Wisconsin divorce became final.
posted by Kangaroo at 10:35 AM on September 22, 2018

Does his wife know he wants a divorce? People lie. This should be cleared up immediately. Listen to preamunire.
posted by Enid Lareg at 3:06 PM on September 23, 2018

I've gotten a divorce in WI very recently (finalized in early 2017) and the process is fairly simple if both partners agree on particulars, but there is a 6-month waiting period between when papers are filed at the courthouse, and the actual court date which makes the divorce happen. That's across the board, whether it is amicable or not.

I can't speak at all to how having one partner abroad would complicate the process - we were both still living in Milwaukee at the time and could easily go in person to the courthouse for every necessary step and to ask questions.
posted by augustimagination at 3:43 PM on September 23, 2018

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (which actually seems to be fairly US-specific) has little fact sheets on divorce in each state with links, focused on financial details, but unfortunately their Wisconsin page has less information that other states I've looked at.

But, if accurate, it suggests that the time limit for remarriage Kangaroo mentions (if this is relevant) may have extended to one year currently.
posted by XMLicious at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2018

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