Am I required to be represented by an attorney in order to obtain a divorce in Wisconsin?
No. You are not required to retain an attorney to obtain a divorce in Wisconsin. However, if your case involves child- custody or child-placement issues, maintenance, or significant property or debts, you should carefully consider whether or not it is in your best interest to proceed without an attorney.
If your divorce does not involve any major issues, if you cannot afford a retainer, or if you simply want to proceed without legal representation, you can represent yourself pro se. A person who proceeds in a legal matter without a lawyer is referred to as acting pro se, or on one’s own. Pro se divorce forms are available at www.wicourts.gov/forms1/circuit. You can also contact your local county clerk of court’s office to ask what services are available to assist self-represented litigants. There may also be low-cost legal service programs available in your area. Check online for potential references. Some attorneys also offer payment plans or work pro bono. Contact your local bar association for other potential options for free or low-cost legal services.
If you are considering proceeding without an attorney, at a minimum, schedule an initial consultation with an attorney to discuss your rights and responsibilities according to Wisconsin divorce law. Meeting with an experienced family law attorney may help you determine whether it is cost-effective and legally smart to represent yourself in your divorce action. If you and your spouse reach a marital settlement agreement, you may want an attorney to review the document before you sign and file it with the court. Even if you begin the divorce unrepresented, you may decide you need an attorney during the divorce process if you become overwhelmed or unsatisfied appearing pro se.