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How Is Property Divided in a Wisconsin Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce/Family Law

Waukesha County divorce attorney property division

The joining of two lives through marriage also involves the joining of the spouses’ finances. Determining how to divide marital property is often one of the key issues in a Wisconsin divorce. Disputes about property division during divorce can escalate and become contentious and complex. If you are considering divorce, it is important to know how property division is handled according to Wisconsin law.

Wisconsin Family Courts Follow “Community Property” Laws

Each state handles property division during divorce slightly differently. Wisconsin is a community property state. Property and funds accumulated during the marriage are owned by the “marital estate” and are subject to division during divorce. Spouses have an equal right to marital property in a community property state. Even if only one spouse’s name is on the title to an asset, both spouses have an equal right to that asset. It is also crucial to remember that the word “property” in this context refers to assets as well as debts.

Differentiating Between Individual Property and Marital Property

Individual property or separate property is property and debt obtained before the marriage. Inheritances and property acquired through gifts are also considered individual property – even if the gift or inheritance was acquired during the marriage. During property division in a divorce, individual property is not divided between the spouses and is instead assigned to the spouse who originally owned the asset.

Determining what property is classified as marital property and what is classified as individual property is often much more complicated than it might seem. Property can be “commingled” and change identify. For example, if inheritance or gifts are deposited into a shared bank accountant, the inheritance or gifts may no longer be considered individual property. Individual property may also be transmuted into marital property if a spouse contributes to the increased value of the property.

Furthermore, the property can be classified as both marital and individual. Retirement accounts often fall into this category. Typically, the portion of the retirement funds obtained prior to the marriage is considered individual property and the portion acquired during the marriage is marital property.  

Reaching a Divorce Settlement Agreement

Wisconsin courts follow community property laws when it comes to dividing property and debt during divorce. However, the majority of divorce cases in Wisconsin are settled out of court. With help from your attorney, you and your spouse may be able to negotiate a property division settlement and avoid the litigation process. The marital settlement agreement will contain your agreements regarding property division as well as other divorce issues such as child custody and spousal support or alimony.

Contact a Walworth County Divorce Lawyer

A skilled Jefferson County divorce attorney from the Bucher Law Group, LLC can help you understand your rights and responsibilities regarding property division during divorce. Our experienced legal team can assist in property division negotiations, or if a settlement cannot be reached, represent you during the divorce trial. Call us today at 262-303-4916 to schedule a free, personalized consultation.




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