Wisconsin Alimony Laws

Alimony, also called maintenance or spousal support, ensures that both spouses maintain a standard of living after the divorce. Alimony is meant to last until the receiving spouse can support themself. The court looks at a list of factors when deciding who gets alimony, looking at things like the length of the marriage.

Wisconsin Alimony Laws

Who Gets Alimony

A party gets alimony when both parties agree it is needed or when the court orders it to be paid.

Alimony in a Divorce

The only way to get alimony is as part of a divorce or other similar case like legal separation. If a party wants alimony, they can request it to start as early as part of the temporary orders. Decisions around alimony will be made alongside other divorce issues such as child custody and property division.

Alimony Adjustments

An alimony case could also take the form of an alimony modification or alimony enforcement. This is when alimony has already been ordered as part of a divorce, but something needs to happen after the divorce was finished.

 Alimony Adjustments  In Wisconsin

The Process of Alimony in Divorce

Alimony can be ordered as part of a divorce case. Below is a general outline of how most cases that involve alimony look. For more in-depth information on the process, visit our page outlining what it looks like to work with us from start to finish.

Step 1


When you file your case, be sure to use the correct paperwork. There are different documents needed depending on the specifics of your case.

Step 2

Temporary Orders

Temporary orders outline how alimony will look during the divorce case. They also determine things like immediate property division and custody schedules during the divorce.

Step 3


In court-ordered mediation, a third-party mediator will work with parties to try to find a compromise on each of the divorce issues. One of those key issues is what alimony will look like after the divorce.

Step 4

Pretrial Conference

The conference prepares the judge for the trial, or the case can end here if the parties agree on how to settle everything.

Step 5

Final Negotiations

In the time before the trial date, there is one more chance to negotiate a settlement. Many cases that have not yet settled settle here because a trial is expensive. However, when the other party is unwilling to see reason, a trial can be necessary.

Step 6

Trial and Finalization

In the trial, all evidence is laid out and each side makes their case for how the final order should be.
After the trial, the judge makes their decisions and lays out the final orders.

For immediate help with your family law case, call now
(262) 221-8123

Key Components

Alimony is often talked about surrounding divorce, but there are many topics that impact alimony and relate to it.
Here are some of those topics and links to pages with more information. For advice specific to your case, call Sterling Lawyers.


Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, is when one party financially supports the other.

How Decisions Get Made

The court uses Wisconsin’s list of alimony factors when deciding if a party needs financial support. Some of the key factors include marriage length, property division, and earning capacity.

Calculating Alimony

Wisconsin law doesn’t have a set equation to calculate alimony. So, our alimony calculator estimates using equations used by attorneys. For a personal estimate that takes all the factors of your situation into account you will need to speak with a Sterling Lawyers attorney.

Types of Alimony

There are four key types of alimony that can be ordered: temporary, permanent, reimbursement, and lump sum alimony. Which one will be ordered depends on the specifics of your case.

Length of Alimony

There are a couple of factors that impact how long alimony can be ordered for. The most important factor though is the length of the marriage. There is an alimony length chart that outlines this connection.

Divorce Types

What type of divorce you get will impact how alimony decisions are made. In an uncontested divorce, parties will already agree on what to do for alimony. In a mediated divorce, parties will reach a conclusion together. And in a contested divorce, parties will likely let the court decide.


The court considers length of the marriage, each party's earning capacity, financial resources, age, physical and emotional health, contributions to the marriage, and any agreements made by the couple, while promoting fairness and preventing financial hardship after the divorce.

Property Division

How property is divided is one of the most important and contentious sections of a divorce. This is a separate topic from alimony, but it can impact it because they are both related to finances.

How the Court Decides

When parties cannot agree on who gets what after the divorce, the court makes the decision for them. Because of Wisconsin’s laws, the court splits things down the middle to the best of their ability.

Prenuptial Agreements

One factor that has a large impact on property division is prenuptial agreements. For couples that created one of these before their marriage, it is one of the first things used to determine division. A prenuptial agreement can also impact whether or not a party gets alimony if there was a clause regarding alimony.

Calculating Child Support

One parent pays child support when there is an imbalance in income or in placement time. Child support is meant to support the child and create positive living situations with both parents. How much child support a party pays can be calculated using our child support calculator.

Child Support

If children are present, child custody and placement will need to be determined. Along with this, child support also needs to be decided on. If a party receives child support, they can still also receive alimony.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who determines the amount of spousal support paid?

The court determines the amount of spousal support. Wisconsin’s laws don’t outline exactly how to do it, so there are a variety of methods. Use our spousal support calculator to estimate how much spousal support will be paid in your case.

How do you qualify for alimony in Wisconsin?

Anyone getting a divorce can request alimony. You can receive alimony if the paying person is okay with paying it. If the other party doesn’t want to pay it, then the court can order it to be paid.

How do I avoid alimony in Wisconsin?

The best way to avoid paying alimony in Wisconsin is for the other party to not request it. You are able to make deals with the other party, so for example they may be willing to waive alimony in exchange for getting something they want in property division.

How long do you have to be married to get alimony in Wisconsin?

It is rare for the court to order alimony in marriages that lasted less than ten years. So, more than 10 years is a good rule of thumb for when alimony becomes more of a reality. The length of the marriages impacts how long alimony will be paid for. In long-term marriages, the court can even order life-long alimony.

How often is alimony awarded in Wisconsin?

It is uncommon for alimony to be awarded as part of a divorce in Wisconsin. It only really happens in cases where the marriage lasted for a long time and the receiving party is not able to support themself.

Who qualifies for spousal maintenance?

Anyone getting a divorce can ask for maintenance, which is another term for alimony. To actually get alimony, the other party must be willing to pay it, or the court must order it.
Book My Consult