A recent post on this blog focused on the question of alleging fault in divorce. Wisconsin is a no-fault state, meaning that couples do not need to allege that either spouse was to blame for specific wrongdoing that destroyed the marriage. Instead, they only need to attest that the relationship is irretrievably broken.
This may raise a similar question in some readers’ minds: Does the decision to divorce need to be mutual? In Wisconsin, as in most states, one spouse’s desire to divorce will usually be enough for a judge to grant it, meaning that the decision doesn’t need to be mutual. That being said, the divorce process and the outcome will be much more successful if both spouses have accepted the reality of the divorce and are willing to negotiate terms.
One spouse’s refusal can lead to delays and other problems
After being served divorce papers, your spouse cannot deny you a divorce. But through their refusal to participate in the process, they can greatly slow it down and make it harder to reach a divorce settlement. This should be avoided, if possible, because a slow and uncooperative divorce process is needlessly expensive and is likely to result in an outcome that neither party is happy with. If your spouse is unnecessarily causing delay, there may be grounds to request that he or she be responsible for a contribution towards your attorney’s fees.
What you can do to ease the transition
Unless there has been a history of domestic violence or other abuse in the marriage, it is a good idea to discuss the state of the marriage and the possibility of divorce with your spouse before filing, both to provide an opportunity to work on the marriage and to prevent stonewalling if divorce eventually becomes necessary. Even after serving your spouse with divorce papers, you may need to have one or more follow-up conversations in which you restate your intentions to divorce, clearly and calmly., Your spouse may not like it at first (or ever), but if they can accept that the divorce is going to happen, they are more likely to participate in the process, leading to better outcomes for both of you.