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330 East Kilbourn Avenue, Suite 1170
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

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Phone414-271-1440

wisconsin divorce lawyerBy Paralegal Courtney D. Hess

Couples who choose to legally dissolve their marriage through divorce will need to address many different legal, financial, and practical issues. The division of marital property is one of the key issues that will need to be resolved, and all of the assets and debts that a couple acquired while married will need to be divided as fairly and equitably as possible. While determining how to divide some assets can be a straightforward process, complex financial issues may arise when addressing certain types of assets, including retirement accounts and pension benefits. When dividing these assets, a couple will usually want to use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO.

Using a QDRO to Divide Retirement Savings and Benefits

Retirement benefits usually fall into one of two categories: defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans. Defined contribution plans usually take the form of retirement savings accounts, such as a 401(k), and the value of these assets is usually easy to determine based on the current balance of the account. Defined benefit plans such as pensions can be more difficult to value, since the amount that will be paid when a person begins receiving benefits usually will not be known until a person retires. A QDRO can be used to divide both of these types of assets between divorcing spouses.

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Milwaukee County spousal support law firmMilwaukee, WI divorce attorney for spousal maintenanceBy Attorney Max Stephenson and Paralegal Courtney Hess

In a Wisconsin divorce, spousal maintenance or alimony is sometimes ordered to provide support for a spouse who is likely to have difficulty providing for themself without their former partner’s income, perhaps due to their health, childcare responsibilities, or lack of education and work experience. When maintenance is ordered, the paying spouse has an important legal responsibility to make the payments on time and in the full amount. However, they should also be aware of other obligations that are likely to be included in the court order.

How Is Spousal Support Paid in Wisconsin?

Typically, rather than making payments directly to their former spouse, the paying party in a maintenance order will be required to make payments to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) or a party designated by DCF. The recipient of the payments is responsible for ensuring that they are disbursed appropriately to the receiving party. Failure to make full, on-time payments to DCF or their designee can result in enforcement proceedings against the paying spouse.

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Milwaukee divorce law firmMilwaukee, WI asset division lawyer for the marital homeBy Attorney Max Stephenson and Paralegal Courtney Hess

When a couple decides to get a divorce in Wisconsin, they will need to prepare to divide all of their marital property. For many couples, the marital home is both the most valuable and the most difficult asset to divide. As you face the challenge of dividing your home, you should be aware of your options under Wisconsin law and the potential implications of your decisions.

Concerns About Marital Home Division

In a Wisconsin divorce, all of the following can have significant implications on how a couple’s home is divided:

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Milwaukee, WI divorce law firmMilwaukee business asset division lawyerBy Attorney Max Stephenson and Paralegal Courtney Hess

In Wisconsin, when a couple ends their marriage through a divorce, there is a presumption that their property will be divided equally between the two spouses. You may be aware that this often includes the couple’s home, vehicles, valuable household items, and financial accounts, but it may come as a surprise that in many cases, it also includes a business owned by either spouse. Dividing business assets in a divorce comes with its own set of complications, and it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help you protect your assets and reach a fair resolution.

When Is a Business Divided in a Divorce?

The division of property in a Wisconsin divorce includes most assets acquired by either party during the marriage, whether or not they are explicitly held in joint tenancy or co-ownership by both spouses. This means that a business that you or your spouse started or acquired while you were married is usually subject to division. However, there are a few exceptions. If the business was acquired through a gift or a situation involving another person’s death, including an inheritance, trust distribution, or acquisition by right of survivorship, then it may remain the property of the spouse who acquired it. The same is true if the business was purchased using funds acquired in one of these ways. Your attorney can help you determine whether your business may qualify as your own personal property, rather than the community property of your marriage.

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Waukesha County family law firmMilwaukee divorce attorney for retirement plansBy Attorney Max Stephenson and Paralegal Courtney Hess

Like all other types of marital property, retirement accounts are included in the equal division of assets in a Wisconsin divorce. This often means that those who expected to rely on their spouse’s contributions, or at least combined contributions from both spouses, to fund their retirement will face the difficult prospect of adjusting their retirement plans to account for their new circumstances. However, it is possible to recover from the effects of your divorce with some smart decision-making and strategic planning.

Dividing Retirement Accounts Correctly

One of the best ways to prevent your divorce from having an outsize effect on your retirement is to think carefully about how you will divide the assets in your retirement accounts. If you and your spouse are negotiating the division of property, you may be able to reach an agreement in which each spouse retains the full amount of any retirement account in his or her name, while offsetting differences in value with other assets as necessary. 

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