Divorce & Annulment Laws for Wisconsin

By Beverly Bird

Divorce ends your marriage, and an annulment "erases" your marriage — it declares that you never legally married in the first place. It is far more difficult to get an annulment in Wisconsin than a divorce; regardless of how long you were married, certain legal circumstances must exist before a court will allow it. Unless you choose an annulment for religious or personal reasons, you can usually dispense with your marriage much more quickly and easily by filing for divorce.

Divorce Grounds

Wisconsin is a no-fault state, so you can only file for divorce on the ground that your marriage is irretrievably broken. If you and your spouse file a joint petition stating this, the court doesn’t have to rule that a ground for divorce exists. Otherwise, you can file your own petition after you and your spouse have lived separately for a year. You don’t have to prove that any fault exists; your belief that the marriage is over is usually sufficient for the judge. Your spouse can argue against your ground only by stating that you haven’t lived apart for the required time.

Annulment Grounds

Annulment grounds are far trickier than divorce grounds in Wisconsin. You must convince a judge that your marriage was illegal in some way from the start. For example, if teenagers younger than 16 somehow manage to marry without the permission of either their parents or the court, this union is annullable. If you or your spouse were not capable of understanding what you were doing when you married, if you were tricked or threatened into getting married, or if you got married only to find out that your spouse was physically disabled to an extent that prevents a normal married life, you can get an annulment and have your marriage “erased."

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Children and Financial Issues

Factors of property and children are treated the same in Wisconsin whether you’ve filed for annulment or divorce. An annulment doesn’t make your children illegitimate; they still have the same right to financial support and a relationship with both parents as they would have had if you divorced instead. If you file for annulment, the first hearing addresses whether a ground for annulment exists, then you must proceed to a second hearing to deal with auxiliary issues such as custody and property. If you have children, both annulment and divorce require a parenting plan before a judge will grant you a decree. If you can’t reach one by consent, the court can appoint a guardian ad litem, an attorney to represent the interests of your children, while you litigate custody. A judge can also order a custody evaluation.

Waiting Period

Wisconsin imposes a four-month waiting period between the time you file a petition for divorce and the granting of a divorce. There’s no waiting period for an annulment. If you have a clear-cut case that your marriage was not viable in the first place, you may be able to get an annulment more quickly than a divorce, especially if you have no children and haven't acquired property together. In this case, a second hearing might not be necessary.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Get a Divorce if Your Marriage Was Never Valid

References

Related articles

The Limitations for Getting an Annulment

Very few couples can annul their marriages -- it's usually much simpler to divorce instead. In most states, annulment is confined to very specific grounds and deadlines – and you can't get an annulment simply because you were married for only a short period of time unless other factors exist. An annulment voids your marriage as if it never existed, and this sometimes imposes additional limitations.

What Is the Meaning When Your Annulment Is Denied?

If a court denies your petition for annulment, the good news is that it does not mean you have to remain married. The bad news is that you can’t erase your marriage as though it never happened. Divorce ends a marriage that existed, whereas annulment legally declares that the marriage did not exist in the first place. Although annulment laws vary by state law, they’re usually prohibitive. Not everyone who applies for an annulment receives one.

Required Period of Separation in Wyoming for Divorce

Wyoming makes divorce relatively easy, at least when it comes to the grounds on which you can file. It's a no-fault state, so you don't have the option of alleging that your spouse did something wrong and that this is why your marriage ended. You can only cite irreconcilable differences or that your spouse is incurably insane, and you don't have to live apart before you file.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Get an Annulment in New York

An annulment, like a divorce, ends a marriage. Unlike a divorce, however, it voids the union. A judicial annulment is ...

Requirements for an Annulment in Massachusetts

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t annul your marriage just because it was fleeting in duration. Each state’s ...

Tennessee Laws on Annulments

Both a divorce and an annulment result in the dissolution of a marriage in Tennessee, but an annulment is a very ...

New Jersey Guidelines for Annulment

People often think of an annulment as a quick, easy way to end a marriage. In New Jersey, the opposite is true. A ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED