In Wisconsin, there's a mandatory 120-day waiting period from the filing of the initial paperwork to finalize a divorce, but if there are any disputes between the parties, it can take longer. The court can grant temporary spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, during the divorce process. To obtain a temporary maintenance order, you must file an Order to Show Cause for Temporary Orders and an Affidavit for Temporary Orders with the court -- and demonstrate that you require the support to maintain your standard of living while the divorce is pending.
Alimony in Wisconsin
As with most states, alimony in Wisconsin is determined on a case-by-case basis. Although there are statutory guidelines to assist the court in determining the amount of child support, the amount of alimony you can receive on a temporary or permanent basis is fluid. A Wisconsin court considers a number of factors to determine spousal support including the length of the marriage, the ages and health of the parties, and the income and future earning potential of each of the parties. The court might order alimony on a temporary basis during the divorce process, and/or for a specific number of years once the divorce is finalized, or on a permanent basis, which usually occurs in the case of a long-term marriage when one spouse is unable to work.
Temporary Maintenance Orders
Either spouse can file for temporary orders upon the filing of the divorce papers. Temporary orders can relate to child support and custody, spousal support, temporary use of personal property, bank accounts or the marital residence, and the temporary allocation of debts. Once you file your request for temporary orders for support, it may takes 3 to 6 weeks for the initial hearing on your request to take place, so you won't receive temporary maintenance immediately unless you can reach an agreement with the other party to pay such support right away. A court commissioner, not a judge, conducts the initial hearing.
Denial of Temporary Maintenance Orders
If the court commissioner denies your application for temporary maintenance, you can ask the court to overturn the decision. A hearing usually is scheduled within 7 to 15 days to allow a judge to independently rule on the request for a temporary order of support. If the judge also denies your request, you'll need to provide for yourself financially during the divorce process.
The granting of alimony in the divorce decree for a number of years, or on a permanent basis, is considered a separate issue from a temporary maintenance order. However, temporary orders often lead to divorce decrees that contain the same terms regarding support maintenance. Once the divorce is finalized and the court issues a maintenance order, upon the motion of either party, the court can review the previous maintenance order, and then change the amount or the duration if there is a substantial change in circumstance for either of the parties.