What is Wisconsin’s Divorce Process?

To start the divorce process in Wisconsin, the petitioner must have lived in Wisconsin for at least six months and must have lived in the county where they are filing for at least 30 days.

Both parties can file a Joint Petition for Divorce, or one spouse can file a Summons and Petition for Divorce. If one spouse files, the opposite spouse must be served with these documents within 90 days after the filing of these documents with the Court.

There are generally two ways you can serve the Summons and Petition for Divorce upon your spouse:

  1. Your spouse can sign an Affidavit of Service; or
  2. Our Process Server or a Sheriff can personally serve the pleadings upon your spouse.

The family law professionals at Renier Hotopp Law Offices, LLC, we will discuss with you the best option prior to service of the documents to minimize conflict and make sure there is the least amount of delay.

Temporary Order Hearing

Some counties automatically hold a temporary order hearing, while some counties require you to file an Order to Show Cause for a Temporary Order Hearing. Temporary Orders outline how terms like temporary child custody and placement, temporary maintenance/alimony, temporary use of personal property, temporary use of the marital residence and temporary use of bank accounts while the divorce is pending.

Before the temporary order hearing, you and your spouse, with the assistance of your attorneys, can negotiate the terms of your temporary order to enter into a stipulated order.

If you do not come to an agreement, you will appear before the Commissioner for a temporary order hearing and the Commissioner will decide the temporary issues. If you do not agree with the decision of the Commissioner, you can request a hearing de novo within a specific time period after the Commissioner’s decision.


In court-ordered mediation, a third-party neutral will communicate with the parties to try to find a compromise on custody and placement of the children. The court-ordered mediator will not discuss financial issues.

Pre-Trial Conference

After the temporary order hearing, most counties have a Pre-Trial Conference. At this conference, the Commissioner seeks to determine what the remaining issues are between the parties and some counties set a Scheduling Order, outlining a timeline for trial.

Before trial, the parties may come to an agreement regarding how they would like to resolve their case – or, settle their case. If they do, the attorneys will prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement, which outlines the agreement the parties have reached. If the parties settle their case, they will be required to attend a default divorce hearing, at which time the Attorney or Court will ask a series of questions relative to the Marital Settlement Agreement and their Financial Disclosure Statements.


Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and will attempt to reach agreeable terms on any issues you would like to resolve prior to trial. If the parties cannot come to an agreement about the terms of their divorce, there will be a tria, and a judge will hear the contested issues.

Contact Renier Hotopp Law for Assistance with The Divorce Process in Wisconsin

Renier Hotopp Law Offices, LLC can assist you through all the tricky stages of divorce, making the process as hassle-free and straightforward as possible. We will further explain the particulars of the divorce process in Wisconsin. Request a consultation today.