Could Wisconsin End The Six-Month Waiting Period For Divorcees?

Law Blog

Only six states in the U.S., including Wisconsin, have a law on the books requiring newly divorced individuals to wait before they can get married again. But this legislative session, there are some Wisconsin legislators who would like to send heir 6-month waiting period to the dustbin for good. Learn more about how this law affects Wisconsin residents, as well as the impact these changes are predicted to have. 

Why a Six-Month Waiting Period? 

Each state's divorce laws are different, and most state legislatures have changed these laws significantly over the last few generations. Until most states adopted no-fault divorce laws, a "Vegas divorce" was the only way to obtain a divorce without remaining separated for a certain period of time. But even in states that no longer require a pre-divorce waiting period, there may be a post-divorce waiting period to prevent so-called "quickie" remarriages. 

Lawmakers are looking to take it off the books, pointing to the high divorce rate in states with a post-divorce waiting period, arguing that the presence or absence of mandatory waiting periods doesn't seem to have any impact on the frequency with which couples divorce. Yet others have expressed their belief that the government should take as small a role as possible in deciding who should marry who (and when).

What Will This Law Change?

Because Wisconsin already requires a "cooling off" period of four months before a divorce can be finalized, someone who is still married but who wants to marry someone else will have to wait about 10 months from start to finish. This means that eliminating the post-divorce waiting period could cut this waiting time by more than half. As a practical matter, this waiting period doesn't impact many people; while some may want their divorce to be finalized sooner than four months after filing, there aren't nearly as many who are in such a hurry to get married again.

And it's not a foregone conclusion that this law will even be enacted. Although this law has made it out of House committee and may be brought to the full General Assembly for a vote, it's not the first time legislators have attempted to pass such a law. The last time a similar law was proposed and passed by the House, it was voted down by the Wisconsin Senate.

To learn more about the divorce process, contact a divorce attorney in your area.


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