Served Divorce Papers in Wisconsin? Here’s What to Do
Wisconsin Divorce Law: A Minefield for the Unprepared
Getting served divorce papers can be a shock. Feeling hurt, angry and betrayed is completely normal. Your response to a divorce cannot end there, though. Wisconsin’s family and divorce laws are harsh and unforgiving. Attempting to go through a divorce unprepared for the challenges awaiting you is a recipe for disaster. Even a small mistake made at the beginning of your divorce proceeding will have repercussions lasting the rest of your life. Navigating the minefield of divorce law is not something you should do alone. Contact Milwaukee divorce Attorney James Donohoo for personal assistance through the divorce process every step of the way.
The Worst Thing You Can Do When Served Divorce Papers
There are many actions you can take after receiving your divorce summons. The absolute worst thing to do is ignore it. If you ignore your divorce case you will lose by default. All of the ridiculous claims made by your spouse will be treated as fact by the judge. Every outlandish demand and unreasonable request will be granted if you decide not to respond to the summons. This means you could lose your children, your house, your car, your bank account and still owe your spouse monthly maintenance and child support. Under no circumstances whatsoever should your response to a divorce court summons be ignoring it. Pick up the phone and call Attorney James Donohoo right away.
Understanding the Basics of Your Wisconsin Divorce Summons and Petition
Whenever somebody files for divorce, the court assigns a case number and caption to the legal action. The number and caption allow the clerk, judge and all other people involved make sure they are referencing the same case. Wisconsin’s divorce case numbers are listed by county and always have a two digit year followed by FA (for Family Action) and then another number. A Wisconsin divorce with case number Milwaukee 14FA13653 is the 13,653rd Family Action filed in Milwaukee in 2014. The divorce’s case caption will list the names of the two people getting divorced. The person who filed the action is the Petitioner. The other party is the Respondent. This caption will remain the same throughout the case, so even if the Respondent files a motion, the original designation of Petitioner and Respondent will be used.
The divorce summons should include a time frame for responding, which is 20 days. The clock begins ticking the second you are served the papers. You should not waste any precious time wondering what to do. Your written response must be submitted within those 20 days or the court will reject it. Attorney James Donohoo will use all available resources to assist you in your divorce, but you need to contact him as soon as possible to ensure there’s enough time to protect your interests.
The petition for divorce is a list of demands by your spouse. It may include reasons for the divorce, what property the spouse wants and who should have custody of the children. Your response to the divorce will most likely focus on the allegations and requests made in the petition. Crafting the right answer and counterclaim is a job for Wisconsin’s Attorney James Donohoo. Atty. Donohoo will work with you to protect your rights and get the results you need from your divorce.
What Wisconsin’s “No Fault” Divorce Law Means for You
One important principle of Wisconsin’s complicated divorce law is its “No Fault” provision. “No Fault” divorce law means there is no requirement for filing for divorce other than an irreparable breakdown in the marriage. You may see this phrased in your Wisconsin divorce summons and petition as, “The marriage is irretrievably broken.” There does not need to be an extramarital affair, spousal abuse or abandonment to commence a divorce proceeding in Wisconsin. An unfortunate consequence of this law is only one spouse’s consent is needed to end a marriage. Wisconsin’s court system will grant a judgment of divorce if your spouse wants one, even if you would rather continue or attempt to fix the marriage. Just because your divorce did not start on your terms does not mean it cannot end on yours. Contact Attorney James Donohoo for expert legal representation in your unwanted Wisconsin divorce.
Know your Divorce is Coming but Haven’t Been Served Yet? Expert Advice to Help your Case
Once a divorce case has been filed, the next step is serving the papers on the other party. This means a sheriff or professional process server will come to your home or work to give you the divorce summons and petition. A stranger coming to your door with legal papers can be a frightening experience and many people try to avoid being served. This is a serious mistake. Whether you are served or not, the process server will file an affidavit with the court listing all the attempts made to give you your summons. It will include any steps you take to evade service and the judge will take these actions into consideration when deciding the case. Hostility, game playing and irresponsible behavior can influence property division and child custody orders. Your best course of action is accepting the papers from the server like a responsible adult. Process servers are actually doing you a favor by handing you the summons and petition in a timely, professional manner. If you do not receive the legal action, you have no way of responding to claims made by your spouse and could lose the case by default. Dodging service will not make the divorce go away. Wisconsin divorce papers can be published in the newspaper to effect service if a party is unable to be served personally. Most process servers will leave a business card when they attempt to serve you legal papers. They will be happy to meet you at an agreeable location if you would rather not be served at home or work. If you are waiting to be served, contact Wisconsin divorce attorney James Donohoo immediately and you may be able to avoid being served divorce papers altogether.
Simple Steps to Take after Being Served Divorce Papers in Wisconsin
After you have recovered from the shock of being served a divorce summons, take action. Set up an initial consultation with Attorney James Donohoo as soon as possible. In the meantime, begin the simple task of gathering basic information. You should assemble your own case file of important personal and financial documents. These papers will prove an invaluable asset during your divorce proceeding. Be sure to include as much data as possible, especially the following:
• Birth certificates (yours and your children’s)
• Social Security cards (yours and your children’s)
• Any immigration-related documents, if applicable
• All documentation related to any previous marriage, including its final judgment of divorce
• Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements
• Tax returns for at least the last three years
• Employment records, including pay stubs
• Deeds and titles to all property and vehicles you own
• Bank statements for all bank accounts
• Records of any retirement or pension plans you have
• Loan, credit card and mortgage statements
This information will allow Atty. Donohoo to file the best answer and counterclaim to your divorce petition. Remember to keep the original documents yourself and only give a copy to the Law Offices of James Donohoo.
In addition to gathering information, be sure to be on your best behavior. Stalking, harassing or intimidating your spouse could influence the outcome of your divorce. You do not have to be on friendly terms with your spouse, but you do need to be civil. Getting arrested or cited for a disturbance or any other criminal activity while your divorce is pending could be what tips the scales against you. If you are unsure whether you should do something, contact Attorney James Donohoo for expert counsel and the right answer.
Removing any incriminating photos or social media posts is an important step in minimizing your spouse’s available ammunition. Wisconsin courts do not give “he said – she said” arguments much weight in divorces. Anything written or posted online by you or your spouse can be a deciding factor when determining child custody and asset division. Scan your spouse’s facebook, twitter and linkedIn profiles for anything you can use in your defense. Take screen shots of anything you find or save a copy of the page to your computer. Your spouse is probably going to remove those entries soon and you need to show them to the judge. When in doubt, ask Attorney James Donohoo for sound advice on what is important information for your divorce case.
You’ve Been Served and the Clock Is Ticking. Get Legal Representation Now
The best attorney in the world cannot help you if you contact him after the 20 day window for answering your divorce summons and petition has passed. Do not miss your chance to respond to the divorce summons and petition or will live the rest of your life regretting it. The clock started ticking as soon as the process server handed the legal papers to you. Every second counts in your divorce proceeding. Contact Attorney James Donohoo for personal legal representation before it’s too late!