Wisconsin circuit court pro se divorce

Court Resources and Forms

If you withhold placement the court may find you in contempt! It is vitally important to seek the help of a lawyer immediately. A minor child does not have the right to decide which parent he or she will live with. The wishes of the child are just one factor to be considered by the court in deciding placement. Can I give up my rights to the child so I can stop paying child support?

Terminating parental rights is a complicated area and a competent lawyer should be consulted before making any decisions. Most of the time, unless there is another person ready, willing, and able to adopt the child, termination of parental rights is not an option.

How do I make an appointment to speak with the Family Court Commissioner? How do I talk with the Family Court Commissioner? The Commissioner cannot meet with you to discuss your case unless the other side is present. This is because ex parte communication by the court is forbidden under the law. If you would like to present facts to the Commissioner and ask for a ruling on some matter, you will need to schedule a hearing before the Family Court Commissioner. To schedule a hearing, you will need to file a motion or order to show cause. Will you recommend a lawyer? To find a lawyer, try the yellow pages, talk to people you know, or try the Wisconsin Bar Association website.

Under Wisconsin law, a married couple can begin a divorce or legal separation by filing a Summons and Petition or by filing a Joint Petition. If the husband and wife can cooperate, they file a joint petition. When using a joint petition, neither spouse has to be served with papers and neither spouse has to file a response. If the parties cannot cooperate to file a joint petition, either one may start a divorce or legal separation by filing a summons and petition with the Clerk of Court and having these documents served on their spouse.

The summons and petition must be served within 60 days after they are filed. Serving the documents usually requires that a process server or law enforcement officer serving the documents to the spouse.

Portage County, WI

The spouse can also sign an admission of service if he or she wants to do so. The parties to the case are referred to as the Petitioner and the Respondent. A person who is served with a summons and petition for divorce or legal separation must file a written response, which may include a counterclaim. This response must be filed within 20 days from the date that person is served or accepts service. The original response is filed with the Clerk of Court, and a copy is sent to the person who started the action or to their attorney.

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If the response is not filed, the Court can enter a default judgment after the minimum waiting period has passed. After the service of the petition and summons, or the filing of a joint petition, there is a minimum waiting period of days before a final judgment of divorce or legal separation can be granted. During this waiting period, the Wisconsin Statutes create some automatic restrictions on what parties can do. The parties are automatically restricted from:. These restrictions apply until the action is dismissed, until a final judgment in the action is entered or until the Judge or Family Court Commissioner orders otherwise.

Violation of any of these restrictions may result in a finding of contempt, unless the Court decides that:. In addition to the automatic restrictions, during the waiting period either party can ask the Family Court Commissioner to make temporary orders to control how things happen until the final divorce hearing. Temporary orders usually deal with legal custody and physical placement, child support and health insurance coverage. Temporary orders may also include orders related to spousal maintenance alimony , family support, use of the marital residence, use of personal property and payment of debts.

No division of property is made at the temporary hearing; only the issue of using the property is decided. If there is disagreement as to issues of custody or placement of minor children, the Commissioner must refer the parties to mediation. The Guardian ad Litem will investigate the case and make a recommendation to the court and the parties on the issues of legal custody and physical placement.

Once the day waiting period has expired the judge can grant a divorce or legal separation. If the parties do not have an agreement, the judge will schedule the matter for a pre-trial conference. At the conference the judge will schedule the final divorce trial. At the trial the parties will have to present all the information needed for the judge to decide all the issues. If the parties have reached an agreement on all the issues, the judge will schedule the matter for a stipulated divorce. Once the judge has granted the divorce, the petitioner must submit Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment of Divorce for the judge to sign.

Paternity is used when two unmarried people have child together. It determines who a child's father is and creates rights and responsibilities for that person. There are two ways to establish paternity:. If public funds Medicaid, Badgercare, etc. If there is no public assistance involved, either parent may start an action. Wisconsin hospitals have a form that the unmarried parents can sign to establish paternity without having to go to court.

Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment is the easiest way for an unmarried father to put his name on his baby's birth certificate. The other ways involve the courts. By signing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form, both parents agree that the man signing the form is the father. Signing this form legally establishes paternity.


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This means the court may make orders for child support, legal custody, physical placement or tax exemption regarding the child. This form does not give the father legal custody or physical placement. It does not require either parent to provide financial support for the child. If the father and mother cannot agree on these issues, they will need to get a court order.

To cancel the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment, either the mother or the father may file a Request to Withdraw Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form within 60 days of filing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form and before a court orders child support. If the parent is under 18 when signing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form and a court has not yet ordered child support, the parent may file the Request to Withdraw Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form within 60 days after turning The Request to Withdraw Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form is available from the birth hospital, child support agency and the state Office of Vital Records.

Once there is a valid Paternity Acknowledgment on file, an action for support, legal custody and placement of the child may be started. In this action, the court will make orders regarding legal custody and periods of placement, child support, tax dependency exemption and issues relating to repayment of governmental agencies for medical, care, or other costs advanced for the child. If one of the parties started the action, that person will have to schedule a temporary hearing with the Family Court Commissioner's office. If there is disagreement as to issues of custody or placement of minor children, the commissioner may refer the parties to mediation.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the judge may appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent the best interests of the children.

The Guardian ad Litem will investigate the case and make a recommendation to the judge and the parties on the issues of legal custody and physical placement. A final hearing will need to be scheduled with the judge. A paternity action is commenced by filing a summons and petition with the court.

Links to Court Resources and Forms

After a paternity action is started, the parties will attend an initial appearance. If one of the parties started the paternity action, that person will have to schedule an initial appearance with the Family Court Commissioner's office. At the initial appearance the parties may request genetic testing to determine if the child is the alleged father's child. Genetic tests are usually DNA tests and often do not involve drawing blood from anyone. Instead, cells are taken from the inside of the cheek and compared. You must have a court order for genetic testing.

The samples are taken on Wednesday at p. There is a fee associated with the tests.


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Once the genetic testing is complete, the judge will schedule the matter for a hearing to implement judgment. At this hearing the court will make orders regarding legal custody and periods of placement, child support, tax dependency exemption and issues relating to repayment of governmental agencies for medical, care, or other costs advanced for the child. If there is disagreement as to issues of custody or placement of minor children, the judge may refer the parties to mediation. County Board.

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How to Apply For Note: Information on these sites is intended to help individuals without an attorney seek a divorce or legal separation or file a small claims legal claim in a Wisconsin court. This information is provided as a service and convenience by the Wisconsin Court System and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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Questions about the content of this page? E-mail us. Updated: February 12,