Wedding FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
About Marriage in Wisconsin.

  • How to Get Married in Wisconsin.
  • Is Common-Law Marriage Recognized As Legal In Wisconsin?
  • Who Can Get Married In Wisconsin?
  • Can One Spouse Commit The Other To A Contract Or Other Legal Obligation?
  • If You Can't Marry Under Wisconsin Law, Could You Marry In Another State?
  • Can You Remarry If You're Paying Child Support?
  • What Obligation Do You And Your Spouse Have To Support Your Children?

How to Get Married in Wisconsin.

Start by applying for a marriage license at the county clerk's office. It must be a county where one party has lived for the past 30 days. Your license will be issued after a five-day waiting period. A court can sometimes waive the waiting period for an emergency, such as illness or pregnancy.

Within 30 days of receiving your license, the marriage must be solemnized by mutual declarations (vows) before an authorized official and two witnesses. The authorized official can be an ordained member of the clergy, a judge, a court commissioner, or certain religious appointees. In some religions, you and your prospective spouse officiate under established customs or rules.

Is Common-Law Marriage Recognized As Legal In Wisconsin?

No. Some states recognize couples as married after they agree to marry and live together for a specified time - even though they never formally marry. Wisconsin requires a marriage license and an official ceremony.

Who Can Get Married In Wisconsin?

Every mentally competent, single person over the age of 18 can get married in Wisconsin. Anyone between ages 16-18 also can get married but must first have written, notarized consent from his or her parents or guardian.

Persons divorced less than six months may not marry. A marriage between persons more closely related than second cousins usually is prohibited.

Wisconsin does not recognize a marriage between persons of the same sex. Further, Wisconsin has no legal or formal provision for a same sex union.

Can One Spouse Commit The Other To A Legal Contract Or Other Legal Obligation?

Yes. The Wisconsin Marital Property Act not only grants a one-half interest in all marital property but also gives creditors the right to attach all marital property. For instance, if one spouse gets credit, the law permits the creditor to take property held in the name of the other spouse to pay off the debt. The law makes significant changes in property management and control rights - for property of either or both spouses. You may want a marital agreement to spell out your rights in this regard so that neither spouse gets or pays more than expected. A lawyer can help you draft such an agreement.

Typically this is called a Prenuptial Agreement or Marital Property Agreement. Wisconsin law very strongly favors full disclosure and fair dealing by both parties when they agree to a Prenuptial Agreement. The services of a lawyer in drafting this agreement is strongly recommended.

If You Can't Marry Under Wisconsin Law, Could You Marry In Another State?

If you're a Wisconsin resident who is not allowed to marry under Wisconsin law and you get married elsewhere, your marriage will not be recognized here. You also could be fined or imprisoned for circumventing the law.

Can You Remarry If You're Paying Child Support?

Yes, your remarriage doesn't change your responsibility to pay child support. This is true even if you marry someone who has other children you also will be supporting. The court will not accept your new marriage solely as a reason for reducing or eliminating your support obligation.

What Obligation Do You And Your Spouse Have To Support Your Children?

Wisconsin law recognizes that both husband and wife have an obligation to support their children. Both of you are responsible for certain types of necessary family expenses even if you don't agree on the particular expense. Generally, these types of expenses cover medical care, education, food, and housing for family members, including such items purchased on credit. Defining whether a particular debt is a "necessary family expense" may require the advice of a lawyer.

For further question please call or e-mail Attorney Andrew W. Schmidt.