There are many questions about divorce.
Divorce laws vary from State to State. These answers are based upon Wisconsin Law. Also, remember that no two divorce cases are the same. The answers to these questions may be slightly different in every case. These are common and general answers.
1. How long will my divorce case take? The Wisconsin statutes indicate that the soonest a married couple can get divorced is 120 days from the date upon which both parties are served with the divorce paperwork. When one party files for divorce, the divorce could potentially be the final 120 days from the date upon which the other party is served with paperwork. Practically speaking, however, many divorces are not this quick. The actual dates are dependent upon the court’s calendar and upon the amicability of the parties. If both parties agree to the terms of the divorce then a court date for the final divorce can be scheduled as close to the 120-day mark as possible. The actual date will depend upon how busy the court is. However, if the parties are not in agreement with the divorce terms, the case can take much longer.
2. What is the difference between custody and placement of our children? Many people confuse these terms or use them interchangeably. In Wisconsin, however, there is a big difference between custody and placement. Custody is a term that describes who will make major decisions regarding the children. It involves decisions such as where the children will go to school, non-emergency medical decision making, religion and the ability of the children to obtain driver’s licenses, join the military or get married before they are 18 years old. Placement is a separate issue. Placement involves where the children will reside on a day-to-day basis and where they will be spending their overnights.
3. Can my spouse and I use the same attorney for our divorce? An attorney walks a fine line, ethically, if representing both spouses in a divorce. The ethical rules for attorneys prevent them from representing parties that are “adverse” to each other in court proceedings. Even where the parties are most agreeable, it is hard to imagine a situation in a divorce where the parties’ interests are not at least somewhat at odds with each other. Accordingly, many law firms do not represent both sides in a divorce. However, if the parties have an agreement, a lawyer can represent one person and draft the agreement for both sides. Both parties do not have to have an attorney to complete the divorce, especially where they can agree on all aspects of the case. In fact, this situation is quite common and can help the parties save money on attorney fees.
4. Do I have to appear in Court for our divorce? Yes. At least one appearance is required. In cases where the parties agree on all issues in their divorce, there is a minimum of one final court appearance which allows the court to approve the final agreement. While many cases involve multiple court hearings, including a hearing where temporary court orders are set, these court hearings can be avoided if the parties agree to all issues both during the divorce and at the time of the final divorce.