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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 32822
Experience:  16 yrs. of experience including family law.
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I am wondering what I might be entitled to in the state of

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I am wondering what I might be entitled to in the state of Wisconsin if I divorce my husband. We own a house and both have a pension. The only other assets are furniture and our cars, both which carry loan balances. We have one daughter who is 11. Currently, we are talking about him keeping the house and making payments and, since I own half of it, I will become an investor. This way, he does not have to buy me out. I have agreed to live in an apartment. He has a great job with benefits and a pension. I have been unemployed/underemployed during most of our marriage. I can only leave once I get a job. We have agreed to share custody of our daughter. Do you know what my entitlements might be in Wisconsin? We have been married 16 years and are in our early 50's. I want to be independent and not ask anything, but seeing how I have been home most of the time and his profession has boomed, I am not sure this is the right strategy.

Thank you in advance,
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

It sounds like your in agreement, at least in principal, on the terms of this divorce?

Does that extend to child custody/support?

Do you currently have a job? If not do you have qualifications to gain employment?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes, we agree in principle. Since I will have 50% custody of my daughter, we agree that we will each pay 50% of her support if able. No, I do not have a job. I have looked for over 10 years. I have a masters degree in management and 14 years in marketing management. But, it is in the food ingredient area, which has consolidated drastically over the past decade. I have to stay in Wisconsin where many opportunities in manufacturing have tanked. I have tried several other types of industries/jobs - mainly underemployed and unemployed - none have worked out. I am currently on unemployement and it will end in April.
Thank you.

A few more, tell me a bit about your "soon to be ex".

Employed? Consistently? I assume your spouse has provided the majority of the family income over the years?

Also, the home...what do you owe on it and what is it worth today?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes, my spouse is employed and yes, consistently. Yes, I was the primary "breadwinner" but lost this role - yes, he has paid most of the bills and mortgage. However, I owned real estate when we got married and I guess you could say this was my contribution.


Our home is currently worth $390,000 but the equity was depleted due to legal bills when my husband had his own business. We owe $250,000.

Thank you

Lets start with some basic information

a divorce can either be contested or not contested.

Uncontested; Now the fastest, (and by far the least expensive) way to get a divorce is if you can agree on the terms. If you can agree on "who gets what" there is not a need for attorneys...this will cut the costs to a very small amount (court fees)

Contested; if you can not agree, this is a contested divorce. To proceed you need an attorney or need to act as your own attorney (very bad idea). Here the parties present evidence to the court on "who gets what" and the court decides. This take longer and involves attorney fees for both sides.

SO, if you can agree with your "soon to be ex" on who gets what, great! If not, you need an attorney.

And let me say that in ALMOST ALL divorce cases, the parties agree at some point...but sometime its only after they have paid the lawyers a LOT of money to tell them its in their best interest to settle. You seem to be on the right track, agreeing up front to settle. Good for you.

Now, lest talk support.

There are two types of support that the court can award.

Child support and spousal support.

Lets start with child support.

Child support is easy, its based on the relative time with the child and relative income of the parents. If you agree on 50/50 custody, the court will likely agree...the court wants both parents in the child's life. But if one parent makes more money than the other, that parent will pay some support.

How much? You can get a good idea here

Now, spousal support (alimony/maintenance). That is MUCH more difficult. I suspect the lawyer you spoke with was vague on purpose. While you can sometimes get a decent prediction, its only after a careful review of the entire case. There is no way to give an accurate "guess" based on a quick overview. This is not like child support, where its "cut and dry".

No, in WI, like most states, there are many factors that apply, and, if the parties do not agreee, they both must present evidence to the court and the court will, based on the evidence, determine if support is appropriate and if so, how much

Lets start with the factors. You can see them here in section 767.26

(1) The length of the marriage.

(2) The age and physical and emotional health of the parties.

(3) The division of property made under the divorce decree

(4) The educational level of each party at the time of marriage and at the time the action is commenced.

(5) The earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to find appropriate employment.

(6) The feasibility that the party seeking maintenance can become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage, and, if so, the length of time necessary to achieve this goal.

(7) The tax consequences to each party.

(8) Any mutual agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage, according to the terms of which one party has made financial or service contributions to the other with the expectation of reciprocation or other compensation in the future, where such repayment has not been made, or any mutual agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning any arrangement for the financial support of the parties.

(9) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other.

(10) Such other factors as the court may in each individual case determine to be relevant.

So as you see, there are many factors...and from what you describe, it seems some of the factors will help your claim for support, while some others, not so much.

But one thing you do have going is your not employed...and he is. So even if the court will not not award you long term maintenance, it may be you can get temporary support, say for a year or so, to get you "on your feet". This is actually common. And if your agreeing with him on the other aspects of this divorce, if you can agree on this as well, temporary support, then your way ahead of the game.

If you can not agree?

That puts you in the position to have to hire a lawyer and show the court that based on the above factors, you rate support.

Let me know if you have more questions

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