Perhaps you and your spouse have some significant disagreements regarding what is fair as you try to negotiate the division of your marital property for divorce. Even though Wisconsin is a community property state, you may have come to the table wanting certain assets that your spouse is not willing to compromise on. Now the two of you are in a seemingly unresolvable gridlock.
Before you decide you will take your case to court, think about this: You are handing over the ultimate decision to the judge, and he or she may decide that equal division would not be truly fair. The judge has the authority to award one party a greater amount of the assets.
Will this decision go in your favor or your spouse’s?
What the judge considers
Maybe the judge sees that your spouse makes three or four times as much money as you do. If he or she had a flourishing career before you met, that is one thing, but if you did without things you needed, worked two jobs and pinched pennies so your spouse could go to college, that is a different matter altogether. It may be fair for you to receive a larger number of assets in light of your sacrifice.
Perhaps you want to stay in the house you and your spouse bought when you first married because the kids will spend most of their time with you, and you do not want them uprooted during this emotional time. It is a substantial asset, but it also saddles you with debt and tax consequences that will strain your finances. The judge may consider these factors as well as the actual value of the house.
A judge may also decide that any of these factors should override an equal division:
- The physical health of each spouse
- The separate property of each spouse
- How long the marriage lasted
- Premarital agreements
- The age of each spouse
- Anything else the judge determines as relevant
You may weigh all these factors and determine that you have a better shot at a fair settlement if you insist on a trial. Ultimately, the outcome will depend on the specifics of your situation and the perspective of the judge.