Is Property Division in Divorce a 50-50 Split in Wisconsin?
Yours, mine, or ours?
When married couples choose to divorce, what happens to the property that has been accumulated during the course of the marriage? What about property that was individually owned prior to the marriage? Who gets to keep what?
Wisconsin is a community property state
All states have different laws regarding division of property in a divorce. The majority of states are common law states, where each spouse may individually own property during a marriage and after divorce, the spouses retain ownership of what was theirs. Nine states – including the state of Wisconsin – are community property states, which follow more complicated rules regarding property division between the spouses after a divorce.
“My” income becomes “our” income
Prior to marriage, what was yours – your income, your property, your assets and debts – was entirely yours. In the state of Wisconsin, any property acquired during the course of your marriage is considered marital property that is shared with your spouse. This means the income either spouse earns during the time they are married, as well as all property purchased with those earnings during the marriage, is considered marital property. And, under community property laws, that marital property is owned equally by both spouses.
Property owned prior to marriage
If you owned property prior to your marriage, even if it remains only in your name, is considered marital property, and is subject to division in a divorce. Property inherited by only you, even if the inheritance took place during the marriage, is considered separate from community property and is still owned solely by you, but only if it is held entirely separately by you, in your sole name. There are many special concerns regarding property owned prior to the marriage and inherited property, however, and these issues are rarely clear or simple.
Property is divided equally after divorce
Because Wisconsin follows community property laws, under which all marital property is shared equally between the spouses during the marriage, all property is also divided equally between the spouses after a divorce. This is also true for any debt incurred during the time the couple was married – this is also shared equally by the couple. While Wisconsin courts begin with the presumption that all marital property will be divided equally between the spouses, the judge will consider arguments from both spouses as to why a different division of property is fairer in your situation.
Have questions regarding property division in a divorce? Give our savvy Wisconsin divorce attorneys a call
Divorce is complicated and involves many different issues, from child support and child custody to spousal support and property division. Community property laws are not always fair in a divorce – understand your rights and let us advocate on your behalf for a more equitable distribution of property after your divorce. Bandle & Zaeske, LLP, is a family law firm dedicated to serving the best interests of couples through all aspects of the divorce process. With compassion, knowledge, and skill, our experienced divorce lawyers work with you every step of the way to achieve the best possible outcome in your divorce. We are happy to answer your questions; contact our office at 414-359-1424 or online to arrange for a complimentary consultation.