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How does legal separation work in Wisconsin?

Ending a marriage is not an easy decision for a lot of people. In some cases, one or both parties can be unsure about whether they can or should end it in the first place. Under these circumstances, it may be wise to consider legal separation.

People opt for a legal separation for many reasons, from wanting to stay on a spouse's health care plan to holding out hope for reconciliation. It can be an option for people wanting to separate from a spouse without divorcing.

How does legal separation work in Wisconsin?

In Waukesha County, the legal separation process is the same or very similar to divorce in many ways. One or both parties files a petition with the courts. You may seek temporary orders for support or custody while you work on obtaining a final agreement.

Then, you and your partner will work together to create a settlement agreement, which requires court approval. This will include property division details, support plans and custody schedules. If you cannot agree on something, the case will go to trial for resolution.

What makes separation different from divorce

While the process to legally separate is nearly identical to the divorce process, they are not the same thing. Most importantly, know that a legal separation does not end a marriage. As such, you cannot remarry if you are separated. 

Further, people who legally separate can reconcile and at any time. If that happens, they can ask the courts to vacate the order for separation.

They may also convert the separation into a divorce at any time if both people agree to it; if no reconciliation occurs after a year, only one person needs to request conversion.

Is separation right for you?

Whether legal separation is right for your case depends on the details of your situation and relationship. As such, people considering separation will want to discuss their case with an attorney for individual guidance.

That said, legal separation could be appropriate for people who may reconcile or parties hoping to resolve the same matters as divorce without actually divorcing, which may be a crucial distinction for personal, financial or religious reasons.

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Law Offices of Mark S. Knutson, S.C. | 14170 West Greenfield Avenue | Brookfield, WI 53005 | Phone: 262-649-1241 | Map & Directions