Does someone need to be at fault in a Wisconsin divorce?

by | Sep 15, 2021 | Divorce

Marriages end for many reasons. Sometimes conflict due to abandonment, infidelity, addiction, or other factors brings a marriage to its breaking point. In other cases, a married couple find that they have grown apart during the course of their marriage and wish to go their separate ways. In those cases, the couple may wonder whether they must establish fault to have a divorce.

What are the requirements for divorce in Wisconsin?

While some states consider fault as part of the divorce process, Wisconsin state law has recognized no-fault divorce for decades. As a result, neither spouse has to prove that the divorce is the result of wrongdoing by the other. Instead, couples must establish that their relationship is “irretrievably broken,” with at least one spouse testifying under oath that their marriage cannot be reconciled. This can be accomplished if:

  • Both spouses agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken
  • The couple has voluntarily lived apart for a year or more before the filing and one spouse states that the marriage is irretrievably broken
  • One spouse views the marriage as irretrievable, and the court—considering the couple’s unique circumstances and the factors at play—determines that the couple is unlikely to reconcile

While couples do not have to prove fault in order to divorce in the state of Wisconsin, some of these details may still be relevant. Infidelity that impacted a couple’s finances, for example, may be a factor in property division, while discussion of abandonment might change the outcome of child custody proceedings.