Some parties choose to avoid divorce and opt instead for legal separation. Based on my experience as an attorney, most parties who decide to proceed with a legal separation rather than a divorce do so for religious reasons, potential health insurance continuation, the existence of a very long-term marriage or hope of reconciliation or a combination of these reasons. Sometimes parties may remain married, but legally separated, in an effort to meet tenure vesting requirements for Social Security or military pensions.
Unlike divorce, a legal separation does not terminate the marriage, but allows you to live separately and independently. Like a divorce, a Judgment of Legal Separation makes provisions for legal custody and physical placement, child support, maintenance, and property division, as is applicable to the facts and circumstances of each case. A Judgment of Legal Separation must provide that if a reconciliation occurs at anytime after the Judgment, the parties may apply for a revocation of the Judgment. Upon application for revocation of the Judgment, the court shall make such orders as may be just and reasonable, Wis. Stats. Sec. 767.35(4). Bartz v. Bartz, 153 Wis.2d 756 (Ct. App. 1989)
In Wisconsin, by stipulation of both parties or on motion of either party, not earlier than one year after entry of the Judgment of Legal Separation, the court shall convert the Judgment of Legal Separation to a Judgment of Divorce.
Consult a top-rated Wisconsin family law or divorce lawyer to discuss your legal options relative to separation and divorce. Don’t assume that legal separation is in your best interests without weighing the benefits and detriments of both legal separation and divorce.