The purpose of this page is to provide the public a guide in filing for a divorce by answering some often asked question. The Clerk of Circuit Courts office staff cannot provide legal advice; however, as a public service we will attempt to help anyone who has procedural questions. Please remember that a divorce can be a very complex legal event and we encourage you to consult an attorney.
Clerk of Circuit Courts
- You can request this information from the Court Commissioner's office in accordance with Chapter 767.081 Wisconsin Statutes, or ask the Clerk of Circuit Courts. There is no charge for these documents. Local court rules are also found at: http://www.wisbar.org/directories/courtrules/pages/circuit-court-rules.aspx
- If you file and handle your own divorce you would not be paying an attorney, of course, but you would still be responsible for the filing fee, fees to serve legal papers and other possible costs. Also consider that attorneys sometimes don't charge a fee for the first interview session. You should check this out.
- In making an order of sole legal custody for children, the court is required by Wisconsin statute to collect medical history information from a parent. A form will be provided for this purpose, is intended for the child's benefit, and will be sent by the court to the child's primary health care physician.
May I file and handle my own divorce without an attorney? Can I change my mind later and hire an attorney?Yes, but people who handle their own divorce are still responsible for following all applicable family court laws and procedures and for preparing ALL papers necessary to complete the divorce. Generally, see Chapter 767 of the Wisconsin Statutes in your local public library. You can hire an attorney at any time.
- If you have minor children under 16, the court will order the parents to attend an educational class providing training in parenting or co-parenting. There is a fee for attending the class. In family cases where the parties have minor children and in all paternity cases, a parenting plan may be required. These forms are available at the Clerk of Circuit Courts office.
- Look for a summons and a petition if you are filing by yourself against the other person. A joint petition can be used if you are both filing together. Each party to the divorce must file a financial disclosure statement. Also, a Findings of Fact And Conclusions of Law will be required at the final hearing.
- After fees are paid and the appropriate documents filed, a meeting called a pretrial conference will be scheduled 120 days from the date you filed your divorce. A temporary order is needed if the people in the divorce (called parties to the divorce) want an order during that 120 day period to specify living arrangements, child responsibilities, if any, and so on. The temporary order hearing is scheduled with the Family Court Commissioner in approximately one month after filing. The temporary order remains in effect until the final divorce hearing is completed and the final judgment is granted.
- You may obtain additional forms at the office supply store called a "Petition And Order For Waiver Of Costs/Fees", and "Affidavit Of Indigency". Fill these out and bring them with you when you come to file the divorce. Any waiver or partial waiver of fees must be approved by a judge. Even if fees are initially waived in full or in part, the judge may order the fees paid at a later time in the divorce proceedings.
- You must first make a reasonable effort to have the other person personally served. If personal service is not possible, you may do a "service by publication" in the county where you know the other person last lived. The publication, or legal notice, must be placed in the newspaper with the largest circulation and must run at least 3 weeks in a row, once each week.
- A divorce is filed when a marriage is thought to be irretrievably broken and you feel you want a permanent split-up. A legal separation is when people are living apart but the marriage is still legally binding. An annulment is filed when someone seeks to undo or cancel a marriage because it wasn't or hasn't been really "official" or legal under the laws of Wisconsin.
- In Sheboygan County, go to the Clerk of Circuit Courts office on the first floor of the Courthouse and submit your documents along with the correct filing fee, as follows:
With children = $194.50
Without children = $184.50
Filing fees can change if the law changes. To ask about the current fee either stop in at the Clerk of Circuit Courts office or call 459-3827.
- Office supply stores may have forms available. Form packets are available for purchase from the Clerk of Circuit Courts office. Forms may also be found at: www.wicourts.gov
- The person (or party) who requested the hearing must prepare the order for signature by the Family Court Commissioner or Judge.