PROVISIONS OF GENERAL APPLICATION
Information from the office of family court commissioner. 767.105(1)(1)
Information on available services.
Upon the filing of an action affecting the family, the office of family court commissioner shall inform the parties of any services, including referral services, offered by the office of family court commissioner and by the director of family court services under s. 767.405
Other information on request.
Upon request of a party to an action affecting the family, including a revision of judgment or order under s. 767.451
The office of family court commissioner shall, with or without charge, provide the party with written information on the following, as appropriate to the action commenced:
The procedure for obtaining a judgment or order in the action.
Community resources and family court services available to assist the parties.
The procedure for setting, modifying and enforcing child support awards or modifying and enforcing legal custody or physical placement judgments or orders.
The office of family court commissioner shall provide a party, for inspection or purchase, with a copy of the statutory provisions in this chapter generally pertinent to the action.
History: 1977 c. 105
; 1979 c. 32
; 1987 a. 355
; 2001 a. 61
; 2005 a. 443
; Stats. 2005 s. 767.105.
Prohibited acts during pendency of action. 767.117(1)(1)
In an action affecting the family, the petitioner upon filing the petition, the joint petitioners upon filing the joint petition and the respondent upon service of the petition are prohibited from doing any of the following:
Harassing, intimidating, physically abusing or imposing any restraint on the personal liberty of the other party or a minor child of either of the parties.
If the action is one under s. 767.001 (1) (a)
, or (i)
, encumbering, concealing, damaging, destroying, transferring, or otherwise disposing of property owned by either or both of the parties, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, except in the usual course of business, in order to secure necessities, or in order to pay reasonable costs and expenses of the action, including attorney fees.
Unless the action is one under s. 767.001 (1) (g)
, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, relocating and establishing a residence with a minor child of the parties more than 100 miles from the residence of the other party, removing a minor child of the parties from the state for more than 90 consecutive days, or concealing a minor child of the parties from the other party.
Duration of prohibitions.
The prohibitions under sub. (1)
shall apply until the action is dismissed, until a final judgment in the action is entered, or until the court orders otherwise.
Except as provided in par. (b)
, a party who violates any provision of sub. (1)
may be proceeded against under ch. 785
for contempt of court.
An act in violation of sub. (1) (c)
is not a contempt of court if the court finds that the action was taken to protect a party or a minor child of the parties from physical abuse by the other party and that there was no reasonable opportunity under the circumstances for the party to obtain an order under sub. (2)
authorizing the action.
History: 1993 a. 78
; 2001 a. 61
; 2005 a. 443
; Stats. 2005 s. 767.117; 2017 a. 203
Financial disclosure. 767.127(1)(1)
In an action affecting the family, except an action to affirm marriage under s. 767.001 (1) (a)
, the court shall require each party to furnish, on standard forms required by the court, full disclosure of all assets owned in full or in part by either party separately or by the parties jointly. Disclosure may be made by each party individually or by the parties jointly. Assets required to be disclosed include, but are not limited to, real estate, savings accounts, stocks and bonds, mortgages and notes, life insurance, retirement interests, interest in a partnership, limited liability company, or corporation, tangible personal property, future interests whether vested or nonvested, and any other financial interest or source. The court shall also require each party to furnish, on the same standard form, information pertaining to all debts and liabilities of the parties. The form used shall contain a statement in conspicuous print that complete disclosure of assets and debts is required by law and deliberate failure to provide complete disclosure constitutes perjury. The court shall require each party to attach to the disclosure form a statement reflecting income earned to date for the current year and the most recent statement under s. 71.65 (1) (a)
that the party has received. The court may on its own initiative and shall at the request of either party require the parties to furnish copies of all state and federal income tax returns filed by them for the past 2 years, and may require copies of those returns for prior years.
Health insurance information for minor child.
In any action affecting the family that involves a minor child, the court shall require, in addition to the disclosure under sub. (1)
, that each party furnish the court with information regarding the types and costs of any health insurance policies or plans that are offered through each party's employer or other organization. This disclosure shall include a copy of any health care policy or plan that names the child as a beneficiary at the time that the disclosure is filed under sub. (2)
Filing disclosure forms.
Disclosure forms required under this section shall be filed within 90 days after the service of summons or the filing of a joint petition or at a time ordered by the court. Information on the forms shall be updated on the record to the date of hearing.
Confidentiality of disclosed information. 767.127(3)(a)
Except as provided in par. (b)
, information disclosed under this section and under s. 767.54
is confidential and may not be made available to any person for any purpose other than the adjudication, appeal, modification, or enforcement of judgment of an action affecting the family of the disclosing parties.
The clerk of circuit court shall provide information from court records to the department under s. 59.40 (2) (p)
Failure to timely file.
If either party fails timely to file a complete disclosure statement as required by this section, the court may accept as accurate any information provided in the statement of the other party or obtained under s. 49.22 (2m)
by the department or the county child support agency under s. 59.53 (5)
Failure to disclose; constructive trust.
If a party intentionally or negligently fails to disclose information required by sub. (1)
and as a result any asset with a fair market value of $500 or more is omitted from the final distribution of property, the party aggrieved by the nondisclosure may at any time petition the court granting the annulment, divorce, or legal separation to declare the creation of a constructive trust as to all undisclosed assets, for the benefit of the parties and their minor or dependent children, if any, with the party in whose name the assets are held declared the constructive trustee. The trust shall include such terms and conditions as the court may determine. The court shall grant the petition upon a finding of a failure to disclose assets as required under sub. (1)
In the event of a property division determined by arbitration, the closing of the arbitration record does not create a categorical exception under sub. (2) to alter the general rule of valuing property at the date of divorce, although the closing of the arbitration record could serve as the date of valuation. Franke v. Franke, 2004 WI 8
, 268 Wis. 2d 360
, 674 N.W.2d 832
While under s. 767.61 (2) (a) 1. gifted property is generally not subject to division, that is not a hard and fast rule. It was not for a party to unilaterally decide not to disclose property because he or she believed it was not subject to division. Jezeski v. Jezeski, 2009 WI App 8
, 316 Wis. 2d 178
, 763 N.W.2d 176
In not revealing that he was a trust beneficiary, a father failed to make proper financial disclosure at the time of a divorce as was required by this section. Under both grantor and nongrantor trusts if there is an obligation to report that trust's income as one's own, there is an obligation to report the income and that obligation makes the income reachable for calculations of child support. Stevenson v. Stevenson, 2009 WI App 29
, 316 Wis. 2d 442
, 765 N.W.2d 811
Impoundment of record.
Except as provided in s. 767.127 (3)
, the record or evidence in an action affecting the family may not be impounded, and access to the record or evidence may not be refused, except by written order of the court for good cause shown. No person may permit a copy of any impounded record or evidence, or the substance of the record or evidence, to be taken by any person other than a party to the action or his or her attorney of record, unless a court orders otherwise.
History: 1977 c. 105
; 1979 c. 32
; 1979 c. 352
; Stats. s. 767.19; 2005 a. 443
; Stats. 2005 s. 767.13.
Change of address.
Within 5 business days after receiving notice of an address change by a party to an action affecting the family, the clerk of circuit court shall enter the new address in the case file for the action.
History: 2017 a. 203
Circuit court commissioner or law partner; when interested; procedure.
A circuit court commissioner assisting in matters affecting the family or a member of the commissioner's law firm may not appear in any action affecting the family in any court held in the county in which the circuit court commissioner is acting. If a circuit court commissioner or a member of the commissioner's law firm is interested in an action affecting the family and no other circuit court commissioner is available, the presiding judge shall appoint an attorney to act as circuit court commissioner in that action. The appointed attorney shall take and file the oath and receive the compensation provided by law.
History: 1979 c. 32
, 92 (4)
; 1979 c. 176
; 1979 c. 352
; Stats. 1979 s. 767.16; 2001 a. 61
; 2005 a. 443
Right to de novo review.
Any decision of a circuit court commissioner under this chapter shall be reviewed by the judge of the branch of court to which the case has been assigned, upon motion of any party. Any determination, order, or ruling by a circuit court commissioner under this chapter may be certified to the branch of court to which the case has been assigned, upon a motion of any party for a hearing de novo. A party is required to be present at the hearing in order to seek a de novo review. The right to seek a de novo review does not apply to stipulations entered into between the parties. Notices requesting a hearing de novo will not stay the order unless the trial court specifically grants a stay of the order.
If a party seeks to have the trial court conduct a hearing de novo of a determination, order, or ruling entered by a court commissioner in an action affecting the family under this chapter, the party shall file a motion for a hearing de novo within 20 calendar days of the oral decision of the court commissioner or within 20 calendar days of the mailing of a written decision or order by the court commissioner if the decision or order was not given orally by the court commissioner at the time of the hearing. As set forth under s. 801.15 (1)
, 20 calendar days are counted consecutively and include weekends and holidays.
The court shall hold a hearing de novo no later than 60 days from the date of the filing of the motion under this section, except as otherwise required under s. 767.481
History: 2005 a. 443
; 2021 a. 205
Actions to affirm marriage.
If the validity of a marriage is denied or doubted by either of the parties the other party may commence an action to affirm the marriage. The judgment in an action to affirm marriage shall declare the marriage valid or annul the marriage, and is conclusive upon all persons concerned.
History: 1979 c. 32
; Stats. 1979 s. 767.04; 2005 a. 443
; Stats. 2005 s. 767.18.
Civil procedure generally governs.
Except as otherwise provided in the statutes, chs. 801
govern procedure and practice in an action affecting the family. Except as provided in this chapter, chs. 801
apply to the content and form of the pleadings and summons in an action affecting the family.
History: 2005 a. 443
Because this chapter does not prohibit civil sanctions for frivolous proceedings under s. 802.05, a motion for sanctions under s. 802.05 (2) and (3) in a divorce action under this chapter is governed by the rules of civil procedure. Wenzel v. Wenzel, 2017 WI App 75
, 378 Wis. 2d 670
, 904 N.W.2d 384
Parties; title of actions. 767.205(1)(1)
The party initiating an action affecting the family is the petitioner. The party responding to the action is the respondent. All references to “plaintiff" in chs. 801
apply to the petitioner, and all references to “defendant" in chs. 801
apply to the respondent. Both parties may initiate the petition together by signing and filing a joint petition. The parties to a joint petition are joint petitioners. The parties to a joint petition shall state in the petition that both parties consent to personal jurisdiction and waive service of summons.
When the state is a real party in interest. 767.205(2)(a)
The state is a real party in interest within the meaning of s. 803.01
for purposes of establishing paternity, securing reimbursement of aid paid, future support and costs as appropriate in an action affecting the family in any of the following circumstances:
An action to establish paternity whenever there is a completed application for legal services filed with the child support program under s. 49.22
or whenever s. 767.80 (6m)
An action to establish or enforce a child support or maintenance obligation whenever there is a completed application for legal services filed with the child support program under s. 49.22
Except as provided in subd. 2.
, in any action affecting the family under a child support enforcement program, an attorney acting under s. 49.22
or 59.53 (5)
, including any district attorney or corporation counsel, represents only the state. Child support services provided by an attorney as specified in par. (a)
do not create an attorney-client relationship with any other party.
does not apply to an attorney who is employed by the department under s. 49.22
or a county under s. 59.53 (5)
or (6) (a)
to act as the guardian ad litem of the minor child for the purpose of establishing paternity.
Title of actions.
An action affecting the family described in s. 767.001 (1) (a)
shall be entitled “In re the marriage of A.B. and C.D.", except that an independent action for visitation under s. 767.43 (3)
shall be entitled “In re visitation with A. B.". An action affecting the family described in s. 767.001 (1) (f)
shall be entitled “In re the support of A.B.". A child custody action shall be entitled “In re the custody of A.B.".
When parents each own a 1/2 interest in the future proceeds of real estate and the state contributes to child support, the court may not order the custodial parent to pay child support in the form of an accumulating real estate lien in favor of the state. State ex rel. v. Reible, 91 Wis. 2d 394
, 283 N.W.2d 427
(Ct. App. 1979).
A mother is a necessary party in a paternity action brought by the state. Paternity of Joshua E., 171 Wis. 2d 327
, 491 N.W.2d 136
(Ct. App. 1992).
A mother's and child's interests in a paternity action are not sufficiently identical to place them in privity for the purpose of res judicata. Chad M.G. v. Kenneth J.Z., 194 Wis. 2d 690
, 535 N.W.2d 97
(Ct. App. 1995).
Sub. (2) (b) [now sub. (2) (b) 2.] allows a county corporation counsel to act as the guardian ad litem for a child in a paternity action so long as he or she only represents the child and does not represent the state in the action. Chad M.G. v. Kenneth J.Z., 194 Wis. 2d 690
, 535 N.W.2d 97
(Ct. App. 1995).
Because a child has a right to bring an independent action for paternity under s. 767.45 [now s. 767.80], if the child was not a party to an earlier state instituted paternity action, it would be a violation of the child's due process rights to preclude the child from litigating the paternity issue. Mayonia M.M. v. Kieth N., 202 Wis. 2d 460
, 551 N.W.2d 34
(Ct. App. 1996), 95-2838
Initiating action; petition and response. 767.215(1)(a)
Either or both of the parties to the marriage may initiate the action. The party initiating the action or his or her attorney shall sign the petition. Both parties or their respective attorneys shall sign a joint petition.
The clerk of court shall provide without charge, to each person filing a petition requesting child support, a document setting forth the percentage standard established by the department under s. 49.22 (9)
and listing the factors that a court may consider under s. 767.511 (1m)
The clerk of court shall provide, without charge, to each person filing a petition showing that the parties have a minor child, a copy of s. 767.41 (1m)
or a parenting plan form if a standard form for parenting plans is used in the county.
Except as otherwise provided, in an action affecting the family, the petition shall state:
The name and birthdate of the parties, the date and place of marriage, and the facts relating to the residence of both parties.
The name and birthdate of each minor child of the parties and each other child born to the wife during the marriage, and whether the wife is pregnant.
If the relief requested is a divorce or a legal separation in which the parties do not file a petition under s. 767.315 (2)
, that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or, alternatively, that both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
If the relief requested is a legal separation and the parties have filed a petition under s. 767.315 (2)
, that both parties agree that the marital relationship is broken.
Whether an action for divorce or legal separation by either of the parties has been at any time commenced, or is pending in any other court, in this state or elsewhere.
Whether either party was previously married and, if so, the manner in which the marriage was terminated, and, if terminated by court judgment, the name of the court that granted the judgment and the time and place the judgment was granted, if known.
Whether the parties have entered into a written agreement as to support, legal custody, and physical placement of the children, maintenance of either party, or property division. If so, the written agreement shall be attached.
The relief requested. If the relief requested is a legal separation, the petition shall state the specific reason for requesting that relief.