There is no law requiring either spouse to pay certain expenses after a Wisconsin divorce is filed. Spouses cannot sell or give away property without approval. But without a court order, simply filing for divorce does not allocate payment of bills.
Often, spouses agree on who will pay bills. If you cannot agree, however, you must request a temporary order from the Wisconsin divorce court. The temporary order will state who pays certain expenses and child/spouse support between the time of divorce filing and the actual divorce judgment. These orders are common because spouses must wait at least 120 days before the court will grant a divorce judgment. Many families need some help organizing their finances in this period. That is the purpose of the temporary order.
At the temporary hearing, you and your spouse will list your income and budget. The judge will then allocate payment of expenses between you. These orders depend on whether the spouses still live together, their income level, childcare responsibilities, etc. Often, the judge will order spouses to continue paying expenses as they did during the marriage, if they are able.
Temporary orders often state that each spouse is responsible for any debt or expenses incurred after the order date. In most cases, this is a fair resolution. But an early allocation of debt in this way is not necessarily binding on the final divorce order, nor is it always fair. If the income or expenses are not split fairly between spouses, one spouse may have no choice but to incur debt, even for necessities.
Temporary hearings are always shorter and less formal than full Wisconsin divorce hearings. Nevertheless, they are important. They often guide the final divorce order. It is generally much easier to argue that the temporary order worked well, and should be continued, than to argue that it must be radically changed. Therefore, it is definitely best to work with a lawyer at the temporary order hearing.