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Can Married Spouses Get a Legal Separation in Wisconsin?

 Posted on September 20, 2021 in Family Law

Wisconsin Family Law AttorneyThere are many reasons why a couple’s marriage may break down. In some cases, it may be clear to one or both spouses that the marriage cannot be saved and that divorce is the best choice for everyone involved. However, other couples may not yet be ready for the finality of a divorce, or they may wish to remain legally married even if they will not be living together. In these cases, a legal separation may be appropriate, either as a step along the road to divorce while a couple determines whether their marriage can be saved or as a more permanent solution. 

Legal Separation Vs. Divorce

In Wisconsin, family courts handle legal separation very similarly to divorce. As with a divorce petition, one party will file a petition for legal separation, alleging that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. If both parties agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken, or if the couple has voluntarily lived separately for at least 12 months, the request for a legal separation will usually be granted. A family court may also grant a legal separation if one party does not agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, as long as a judge determines that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

Before a judgment of legal separation can be issued, a couple will need to address most of the same legal issues that would be involved in a divorce. They will need to create a settlement that details the division of marital property, and spousal support may be awarded, if appropriate. If a couple has children, they will need to create a child custody agreement that details the legal custody and physical placement of their children, as well as provisions for child support. Once the court has approved or made provisions for all applicable matters, it may enter a judgment of legal separation.

While a divorce will terminate a couple’s marriage, a couple with a legal separation will remain legally married. This may be a beneficial option in cases where a couple does not want to get divorced for religious or cultural reasons. A couple may also continue filing taxes jointly and maintain health insurance coverage for themselves and their children. However, neither spouse can get married to a new partner until they end their marriage through divorce. If a couple reconciles, they can apply for a revocation of their legal separation. A legal separation may also be converted into a divorce within one year after the judgment of legal separation. After one year, a new divorce petition will need to be filed. However, many of the decisions made in the judgment of legal separation may be applied to the divorce case, allowing the couple to terminate their marriage quickly and simply.

Contact Our Waukesha Legal Separation Lawyers

If you are considering a divorce or legal separation, the lawyers of Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP can explain your options and help you determine the best approach to take. We will ensure that you complete all requirements during your case, and we will advocate for your interests throughout the legal process. Contact our New Berlin family law attorneys at 262-232-6699 to schedule your free consultation.


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