Your life... your future... Our Experience. Take The First Step

Is Divorce Or Separation Right For You?

Ending a marriage, or separating from one's spouse, is never easy. In addition to the personal and emotional challenges involved, you will have to make a number of very important legal decisions.

The first choice you face may be which action to file. You have two options under Wisconsin law: divorce and legal separation. To determine which option is right for your unique situation, you need to understand the differences between the two legal actions.

In many ways, divorce and legal separation are similar. Both actions require:

  • A 120-day waiting period before a judgment can be granted
  • Property and debt division, including alimony, which is known as maintenance in Wisconsin, when appropriate. In a legal separation, as in a divorce, the division of assets is considered final. You will not accrue marital property or debt while legally separated, and you cannot file your taxes as a married couple.
  • Decisions regarding the custody, placement and support of children, if applicable

The main, and critical, difference between divorce and legal separation is that only divorce legally ends a marriage. A legal separation severs your financial relationship with your spouse, but you remain legally married and thus cannot marry anyone else.

A legal separation does offer a bit of flexibility because you or your spouse may convert the separation into a divorce as soon as one year has passed from the date the legal separation was granted. It is possible to do this sooner if both spouses agree. On the contrary, if after a period of separation you and your spouse would like to resume married life, you may choose to dismiss the judgment of legal separation.

People choose legal separation instead of divorce for a variety of reasons. In some cases, couples want to sever their financial ties, but they believe there is a chance of reconciliation in the future. For others, legal separation is a way to terminate the emotional and financial partnerships of marriage without violating any religious beliefs pertaining to divorce. Additionally, in some cases, people file for legal separation instead of divorce to maintain their health insurance coverage. However, it is important to note that not all insurance providers allow legally separated spouses to continue coverage.

It is necessary, in both a divorce and a legal separation, to fully consider how all of the issues will affect your wellbeing, your finances and your children. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process and ensure you understand your rights and options every step of the way.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Award Winning Lawyers

  • Wisconsin Law Journal | Reader Ranking 2019 | Best Family Law Firm | Winner
  • A LIST | 2017 WINNER | BEST Family Law
  • Best Lawyers | Best Law Firms | U.S. News & World Report | Family Law - Tier 1 | Milwaukee | 2020
  • Check us out on | Forbes Custom
  • Super Lawyers 2019

How Can We Help?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

This site uses Google's Invisible reCAPTCHA, which is subject to Google's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Milwaukee Office
2675 N Mayfair Rd
Suite 610
Milwaukee, WI 53226

Phone: 414-939-0529
Fax: 414-258-3903
Milwaukee Law Office Map

Waukesha Office
N19 W24400 Riverwood Drive
Suite 350
Waukesha, WI 53188

Phone: 262-307-2775
Fax: 414-258-3903
Waukesha Law Office Map