The uncertainty involved in a divorce is a significant worry that keeps people from starting the divorce process from a during a difficult marriage. Unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you do not have a concrete plan as to how assets and debts will be divided and allocated.

This uncertainty can be a major deterrent to taking action when you are considering divorce. You may be scared to make a major decision without knowing fully how it will impact your finances in the future.  Familiarizing yourself with Wisconsin property division practices can help you feel more comfortable about taking the steps you need for your own happiness.

Wisconsin considers assets from the marriage to be marital property

Wisconsin is a community property state for the management of assets and creation of debt while a couple is married.  But, it is an equitable distribution state for purposes of a divorce.   This means that the family courts treat assets and debts acquired prior to and during a marriage as jointly owned by both spouses. Regardless of the individual financial contributions of either spouse, all assets acquired and earned before and during the marriage can be divided by a court.

The courts do have some leeway when it comes to applying equitable principles to the property division.  When deciding what is a fair and reasonable way to split up your shared assets, some examples of factors they will consider include:

  • Ability of a party to support themselves financially
  • Length of the marriage
  • Property brought to the marriage
  • Health of both parties
  • Other financial and non-financial contributions of a party to the marriage

Generally speaking, inheritances and gifts are separate property – not divisible property, and are not subject to division in a divorce. Once you understand what will likely be part of the pool of divisible  assets, you will have a better idea of what to expect from your divorce.