You might hear of people who are legally separated and wonder how that is different from simply being divorced. In Wisconsin, legal separations and divorces share a similar legal process, but the end result is differently. For example, in both cases the parties have to file petitions with the court. The court cannot enter a judgment in either case until 120 days have passed since the joint petition was filed or the non-filing party was served.

In Wisconsin, the grounds for divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning there is not reason prospect of the parties being able to reconcile. However, in a legal separation, the parties need to allege and show that the marriage is only “broken”, which leaves the possibility that the parties may reconcile. After a court grants a judgment for legal separation the parties will remain legally married and can still enjoy certain benefits such as insurance. However, both parties would live separate lives. In both cases the court will make orders on child custody and placement. At any time during the legal separation the parties are able to reconcile. Additionally, the parties can mutually agree to convert the legal separation to a divorce proceeding. If one party wants to convert the legal separation to a divorce, however, they may not make that request until one year or after the entry of judgment of legal separation.

While there may be certain financial and medical benefits to pursing legal separation versus a divorce, it is important to seek counsel and review financial or medical policies. 

If you have questions and want to learn more about legal separation or divorce, contact our office to schedule a consultation!