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Wisconsin lawmakers could end old divorce law that requires waiting 6 months before another marriage

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 11:36:07-05

Some Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to do away with an old law that requires people to wait 6 months after finalizing a divorce. Republican Representative Cindi Duchow of Pewaukee has co-authored legislation that would do away with the waiting period.

"Most people don't know it exists unless you've been divorced. Or even if you've been divorced you may not know it exists unless for some reason you were going to get married," said Duchow.

Wisconsin is one of six states with the law on the books and Duchow says there's no reason to believe a change would affect the divorce rate.

"Oklahoma has a 6-month waiting period and they have one of the highest divorce rates in the nation. And Iowa has no waiting period and has one of the lowest. So there's no statistical proof that a waiting period is going to prevent a divorce or not," she said.

Divorce attorney David Iancu says the issue comes up with clients from time to time. He says the waiting period is more like 10 months because a "cooling off" period is required from the time a divorce is filed to when it's finalized. That period is at least 4 months, and the 6-month wait is on top of that.

"That's part of the logic of eliminating the 6 months is you have to wait a minimum of 4 months from the time you file for divorce to get divorced anyway," Iancu says.

Politics may be the other factor. Iancu says "I think the logic is the government doesn't really have a place telling people what relationships they should be in, when they should get married and when they shouldn't. I think that's valid."

The legislation (Assembly Bill 439) has made its way out of committee Duchow says. She hopes that it will be brought to the Assembly floor this month for a full vote. A similar proposal passed the Assembly in the past but died in the Senate.

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