In general, no. Divorce laws are enacted by the state legislature, and apply to the entire state. However, each county establishes formal local court rules that can differ by county. For example, in a Sauk County divorce, judges strictly choose guardians ad litem (lawyers for children’s interests) from a list kept by the county. In Dane County divorce, judges and commissioners will often appoint guardians ad litem based on suggestions by the parents’ lawyers. Dane County also has a family court counseling service that conducts a custody study in Dane County divorce cases. Sauk County lack this service, leaving the investigation largely to the guardian ad litem.
In addition to the formal local rules, there are “informal” rules that Sauk and Dane County family lawyers learn by experience. For example, scheduling of motions is permitted prior to filing in Sauk County divorce, but not usually in Dane County divorce. These are important differences in application depending on the county.
Wisconsin divorce laws are heard in courts of “general jurisdiction.” There are no specific divorce courts or divorce judges. Therefore, the family law statutory and case rules apply the same to all counties. A Wisconsin divorce lawyer can handle a case anywhere in the state. As you can read above, though, the differences are mostly in procedural and unwritten rules that each county drafts.
These local rules do not override Wisconsin’s state rules, but parents and lawyers must be aware of them. The rules were established specifically by and for local judges, based on what they felt was important. Violating one of these rules will certainly annoy the local judge, and may have serious consequences from a missed deadline, for example.
Careful attorneys handling a Sauk County Divorce or Dane County divorce always check the local rules. I maintain a significant family law practice in Dane, Sauk, Columbia, and other Wisconsin counties, and I am happy to consult with you on your family law questions.