Family Court FAQs

Can I represent myself in a family action?

Information and questions located on the State of Wisconsin self-help family website  may help you decide whether or not you want to represent yourself.  By going through a question and answer area on this site there are forms that are automatically filled in as you go.

Are there forms available for family court cases?

There are family forms available on the State of Wisconsin website.  It is recommended that you go to the self-help family website before proceeding with the family forms.

Can I submit my forms or start a new action online/electronically?

The State of Wisconsin circuit court eFiling system allows attorneys and parties to electronically file new cases and documents for various case types including family and paternity.  You may find information regarding efile/eCourts by visiting the Wisconsin Court System eFile/eCourts website.  It is recommended that you download the State of Wisconsin's brochure: eFiling for Attorneys: A quick reference guide, which contains information that may be useful to prose individuals as well.  

Am I required to attend a parenting class for my divorce case?

It is highly recommended that you attend a parenting class.  In some cases you may be ordered to attend a parenting class.  In Washington County parents may attend Parenting When Relationships Change offered through The Youth and Family Project, Inc. located at 630 Elm Street, West Bend, WI 53095.  For more information on this class, you may contact The Youth and Family Project at 262-338-1661. 

What paperwork must I bring to my final divorce hearing?

Generally You will need:

The original and three copies of your current financial disclosure statement, which reflects your income earned to date (form FA-4139) and copies of your most recent W-2 statement.

The original and four copies of your Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law & Judgment (form FA-4160 if you have minor children or you will need form FA-4161 if you do not have minor children), with a copy of your marital settlement agreement attached to the original and all four copies.

The original Divorce/Annulment Worksheet form filled out completely.  A blank Divorce/Annulment Worksheet is mailed with the Notice of Hearing; alternatively, you may obtain a blank Divorce/Annulment Worksheet from the Clerk of Courts office.

How do I get a copy of my judgment of divorce or paternity order?

For cases filed in Washington County, M-F 8:00 am - 4:00 pm in the Clerk of Courts office, Room 3151 of the Washington County Courthouse Justice Center, 432 East Washington Street, P. O. Box 1986, West Bend, WI  53095.  There is a statutory fee of $1.25 per page for any document from the court file, plus an additional $5.00 if you want the copy certified.  Copies are also available by mail upon receipt of a check or money order for the copies along with your written request if you want to have a copy sent to you.  Your case number should be included on your request for copies.

Writing letters to the Court regarding Family cases:
Individuals often write Judges or Court Commissioners (court officials) letters asking that they do certain things for them.  The court officials cannot try cases by mail.  To have the court act, you must submit completed paperwork/forms to have hearings or follow-up to change an existing court order, or if someone didn't do what they were supposed to do, to enforce the court order.  There is a fee to modify existing court orders unless it is done by stipulation (agreement) of the parties.  Do not write to the court official unless the court has specifically directed you to write him/her a letter.
You may review the State of Wisconsin website regarding family forms to find a form that meets your needs.
When you write letters to the court, you need to be aware of what is referred to as ex parte communication.
What is Ex parte Communication?
Ex Parte Communication is an attempt (not allowable by law) to communicate with a court official, either verbally or in writing, without the knowledge or consent of the other party.  Written correspondence (letter) to the court is considered to be ex parte when there is nothing written in the letter to indicate that the other party received a copy.  When this occurs the court official may not consider the contents.
How can I submit a letter to the court that can be read?
Use copy notation (cc:) on your correspondence, this lets the reader know that a copy of the letter is being sent to the other parties named on the letter after the cc:.  You must send a copy of your correspondence to all parties involved with your case, including the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) if there is one (a GAL is the attorney representing the child/children in your case).  if the State of Wisconsin is involved, you must mail a copy of the letter to the attorney for the Child Support Agency.

What if there is a Restraining Order between yourself and the other party?
 If a restraining order prohibits you from sending the letter directly to the other party, you may provide the other party's copy of the correspondence to the court, along with a note indicating that a restraining order exists.  Include a stamped envelope and request that the court forward the letter to the other party for you.