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Wisconsin Court Records

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The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Wisconsin

In the State of Wisconsin, an annulment and a divorce terminate a marriage. A divorce will legally end a marriage, but an annulment will declare the marriage to have never existed. Divorce in Wisconsin does not require proof as it is a “no-fault” divorce state, and any party can file for a divorce as long as the marriage is irreparably broken according to Wis. Stat. § 767.315 (a). On the other hand, an annulment requires the requesting party to provide a legal ground to annul a marriage. Either in a marriage or annulment, if there are children involved, the court will decide on child custody if both parties cannot agree.

The significant difference between a divorce and an annulment is that divorce puts an end to a valid marriage while an annulment puts an end to an invalid marriage. If the marriage is seen to be invalid from the start, the state will grant both parties an annulment. Circuit Courts in Wisconsin handle all cases regarding divorce and annulment in the state.

What is a Wisconsin Divorce Decree?

Divorces decrees are not the same as divorce certificates. Divorce decrees incorporate both parties involved in the divorce, the court where the case was handled, the location and date of the final judgment, the agreements, and the court proceedings. These agreements may include child support, distribution of properties, child custody, insurance agreements, and spousal support.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What is an Annulment in Wisconsin?

An annulment in Wisconsin declares a marriage invalid. After a court annuls a marriage, the union will be regarded as to have never existed. Wisconsin annulment follows the rules under Wisconsin Statutes Section 767.313, titled “Annulment.”

The Wisconsin Vital Records Office files, protects, changes, preserves, and issues copies of annulment records in the state. The Open records law allows Wisconsin to be one of the few states that makes annulment records accessible by the general public. All annulment records are also available online. To search for annulment files, interested persons can visit the CCAP. Persons can also visit the Circuit Court in the county that heard the case to access physical copies of the annulment records.

Annulment vs Divorce in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, a marriage can be terminated either by divorce or by annulment. The only ground for a divorce in Wisconsin is that the marriage is irreparably damaged, which means both parties can no longer fix the issues or work things out. For an annulment in the state, there must be proof of legal ground. The following are the acceptable legal ground for an annulment in Wisconsin;

  • Being underage
  • Impotence
  • Incest
  • Force or duress
  • Recently divorced
  • Bigamy
  • Mental incapacity

To get a marriage annulled in Wisconsin, interested persons must file a petition for annulment in the Circuit Court in the county where one or both spouses reside and have lived for at least 30 days.

The petition must include the names of both spouses, address, date of birth, occupation, date, and marriage location. The petitioner must state the legal grounds why the marriage should be annulled. The other spouse must receive a copy of the petition as well. After serving the spouse, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether the annulment will be granted or not.

To get a divorce in Wisconsin, the couples are to follow the requirements below;

  • Must reside in Wisconsin for about six months.
  • Must live in the county where the divorce will be filed for 30 days.
  • Must file a petition of divorce either alone or jointly with a spouse.
  • If filed alone, the petitioner must serve the spouse with a copy of the divorce papers and submit proof to the court.

After filing, there is a 120 day waiting period before the final hearing. Before this, the petitioner can decide to have a hearing for brief orders regarding alimony, property distribution, child support, and child custody before the divorce is final. The couple can come to a final agreement, and if that does not work, the court will decide on mediation, making the whole process longer.

Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Wisconsin?

Yes, an annulment is cheaper than a divorce in Wisconsin. The average cost of a divorce in the state is at least $11,300, incorporating filing and attorney fees. If the spouses filing for divorce have children together, the costs can be about $17,000 to $30,000 depending on disputes regarding properties, spousal support, child support, and child custody.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Wisconsin?

An uncontested divorce is a divorce process where both parties reach an agreement out of court on parenting responsibilities, how to share custody, duration and amount of child support, and alimony. Under Wis. Stat. § 767.215 (1)(a), both parties must consent to all of the above listed marital issues before filing for an uncontested divorce.

Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Wisconsin?

The Wisconsin Judicial Branch provides forms for individuals who want to file for an uncontested divorce. Interested persons can also find the documents in hard copy by visiting the Circuit Court. Spouses that wish to file a joint divorce petition will be joint petitioners.

Uncontested divorce records can be accessed by the general public in Wisconsin online and offline. The only court cases classified as confidential and not accessible by the public are children and paternity court cases.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in Wisconsin?

To get a copy of a divorce decree in Wisconsin, any of the parties involved should visit or contact the Clerk of Court office in the county where the divorce case was handled or send a query by mail or online. Interested persons can also obtain copies of divorce decrees by filing a request form, paying the appropriate fees, and submitting a copy of a valid ID card. Send all to;

Wisconsin Vital Records Office

1 West Wilson Street, Room 160

PO Box 309

Madison, WI 53701

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Get a Wisconsin Divorce Decree Online?

To access divorce decree online, interested individuals can conduct a search using the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access. To view these records, members of the public must;

  • Type in the names of each party involved
  • Type in birth dates
  • Enter the county the divorce was finalized
  • Enter the case number
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