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


Related articles

Reasons an Annulment Will Be Approved

Annulment isn't a quick and easy fix to a bad marriage, although it's sometimes rumored to be. Much like fault-based divorces, you must prove certain grounds to the court before it will grant your request. These are legally acceptable reasons why your marriage can't or shouldn't continue. With all states now recognizing no-fault divorces -- where you don't have to prove wrongdoing on the part of your spouse -- getting the court to grant you an annulment is usually the more difficult process.

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 legislative code sets specific guidelines for what constitutes an annullable marriage. In Massachusetts, the length of the marriage is not included in these guidelines. The state is stingy about granting annulments, and spouses often find it easier to file for a no-fault divorce instead. If your marriage qualifies, you would have to prove to the court one of seven grounds for annulment. This is sometimes difficult, whereas you don’t have to prove any ground to get a no-fault divorce.

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 essentially a court declaration that a valid marriage between the parties never existed. In New York, like most states, statutes authorize annulment under very limited circumstances, with different rules depending on whether the marriage is considered "void" or "voidable." Courts require a higher degree of proof for the elements of an annulment than is required for a divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

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 ...

How to File for an Annulment in Maryland

You can only file for annulment in Maryland if your marriage possesses certain defects. For example, if your spouse ...

Annulled Vs. Divorced

Spouses involved in unhappy or intolerable marriages often wish they could turn back time and undo their mistakes. In ...

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 ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED