Experienced Madison Divorce Lawyers Answer Your Wisconsin Divorce Questions

The end of a marriage can be an extremely emotional and stressful time for spouses and their children. As you look toward your post-divorce future, you can rely on the proven attorneys at Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC to resolve your concerns.  We want you to focus on yourself and your children at this difficult time.

You naturally have questions about the divorce process and what it holds for you and your children’s future. Our team of experienced Wisconsin family law attorneys has the answers that you seek as you consider your next steps. Call 608-709-5000 to schedule your free consultation. Convenient offices in Madison and Baraboo. 


How much will my divorce cost?

A very simple divorce, with all issues easily agreed, could be less than $2,000.   Divorces involving limited disputes, with perhaps 1-2 shorter court hearings, could be between $3,500 and $7,000.   The more serious and complex the issues, the greater the cost.  At Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC, we understand that you rely on excellent legal work for a fair cost.   Our lawyers and staff work as a team to ensure that you understand the cost and purpose of our work, and share tasks to ensure that your cost is fair.

How long will my divorce take?

The length of a divorce depends on the issues involved.   First, the 180-day waiting period after the filing date must expire.  Second, child custody and placement disputes usually take longer than solely financial disputes.  A full child custody dispute can last 5-12 months.  If only financial issues remain, 5-8 months is more likely.   Post-divorce disputes can be shorter, perhaps with only one hearing, in 1-3 months.   However, for all cases, the more complex the case, the longer it may take. 

There is very little difference.   Either way, your assets and debts will be separated, child support and maintenance can be ordered, and your children’s custody and physical placement will be allocated.  The main difference is that you cannot remarry if you are legally separated, unless you convert it to a divorce later.   Sometimes, a legal separation may make sense because it may allow a former spouse to remain insured under the other spouse’s health insurance.

Can I get a divorce if my spouse does not want one?

Yes. As long as one spouse requests a divorce, it will be granted.

Do I have to live in Wisconsin to get a divorce?

You or your spouse must be a resident.  Usually, that means that one of you must have lived in Wisconsin for at least 6 months before the divorce.   However, there are ways to establish residence and jurisdiction in Wisconsin even if you do not live here full-time.  This is a question to explore in detail during our consultation.   The lawyers at Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC routinely represent clients who live in other states, or even other countries.

Will I have to go to court?

Not necessarily. The image many people have of divorce is two spouses fighting in a courtroom over every penny. That is not the reality for most couples.  Full divorce trials are rare.  Most divorces are resolved by agreement.   In that case, you will only be in court for a short hearing to enter the judgment.   There may be some short conferences along the way.     If an issue cannot be resolved, at least one hearing would be necessary for the judge to make a decision.

Does my spouse’s affair affect the divorce?

Usually, no.   Wisconsin is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that the reason for the divorce is not legally relevant.  In some limited circumstances (for example, if a spouse spent large amounts of money outside the marriage), this information may be relevant.

Is everything divided 50/50 in divorce?

Not necessarily. Property is presumed to be divided equally, but that presumption can be overcome based on several factors such as the length of the marriage, the spouses’ age and health, their income or earning ability, and contributions made during the marriage. There is no formal presumption of equal division of income after divorce through spousal maintenance. The award of maintenance also depends on several of the same factors as for property division.

Will there be alimony or maintenance?

Alimony – officially known as maintenance – may be awarded to preserve the marital standard of living after a divorce.  It is not required, but instead depends on several factors such as the length of the marriage, the spouses’ age and health, their income or earning ability, and contributions made during the marriage.  Maintenance is sometimes awarded to compensate a spouse for delayed education or career opportunities.  The most common example is a spouse who left work to care for children.  In Wisconsin, one spouse’s childcare duties are often considered equal to the other’s income contributions.

What will happen to the family business?

A family business adds a layer of complexity to the divorce process.  The spouse who runs the business will almost always receive it in the divorce.  The business’ value as an asset, and the income it produces, must be calculated.   If the business has value, usually a different asset is awarded to the other spouse to offset it.   The business income will form part of the basis for a support order.

What will happen to my military benefits?

Service members and their spouses make future plans based on these earned benefits.  They include pension and other retirement benefits, health insurance, etc. Military benefits are governed by very specific rules and are divided based on factors such as the length of the marriage and how much of the marriage overlaps with a spouse’s military service.  The military’s rules are very complex and strict.  Whether you are the servicemember or spouse, you must work with a divorce lawyer who understands these rules to protect your entitlement.  At Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC, we routinely handle military divorces, and often assist clients after their divorce to fix problems in earlier orders.

What will happen to my federal and state retirement benefits?

There are strict rules for eligibility and division for benefits and savings from the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), and Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS).  We understand how important these benefits are to you, and how long it took to build them up.   We have represented many federal and state employees and their spouses in divorce, and can ensure you receive your fair share of benefits.

How much child support will be paid?

Child support is calculated based on the number of children, the allocation of the children’s time between the parents, and each parent’s gross income.  This information is entered into a formula that indicates the support amount.  It is not always easy to accurately figure each parent’s income.   The attorneys at Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC have handled hundreds of cases involving unusual income calculations, including stock options, business income, dividends, bonuses, etc.   We account for all available income to ensure that children receive the support they deserve.

What will happen to my children in divorce.

Your children’s well-being is naturally at the top of your concerns.   Your children’s legal custody (the decision-making rights) and physical placement (the schedule between the parents) will be established.  Many factors will be considered before the final arrangement is complete.  Your children may also have the opportunity to talk to a social worker or guardian ad litem (the child’s representative). Rest assured, most parents reach an agreement on child issues to avoid unpleasant court battles.  If that is not possible, or advisable, we will take the time to understand your family circumstances and your children’s needs, then work with you to present it to the judge and other decision-makers in the most understandable way.

Speak To an Attorney

We look forward to answering your questions and guiding you toward an outcome that works best for you and your children. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.