FILE - Marriage

In Wisconsin, if you get divorced, the state has a say in when you can remarry. 

Wisconsin is one of six states that still has a post-divorce waiting period on the books. But it could soon go away. 

The legislature's Committee on Family Law will meet Tuesday to hear a proposal (AB 439) that would end the state's six month waiting period to get married after a divorce. 

"It is not the role of the state to decide for a single person when it is appropriate to re-marry. Nor should the state determine what a marriage’s best opportunity to succeed looks like," Rep. Cindi Duchow, R-Delafield, said in a statement about the legislation. "Ultimately, it is the individual person who knows and understands what is in their own best interest, not the state."

Duchow is one of 11 representatives and three senators who are pushing to end the six-month waiting period. 

"In order for a final judgement of divorce to be granted, a minimum of 120 days of waiting is already required," Duchow said. "This waiting period starts the day someone first files for divorce and ends when the divorce is granted by the court commissioner. Depending on the intricacies of the divorce, this minimum four month waiting period could exceed well beyond 120 days. When the divorce is finally granted, the mandatory six month waiting period begins."

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said the six-month waiting period also ignores the reality of bad marriages or necessary divorces. 

"Under the current statutes, there is no consideration for time the couple may have been separated before actually filing for divorce, nor is there any consideration for cases of domestic violence or abuse that lead to a divorce proceeding," Darling said about the need to end the remarriage moratorium. "Wisconsin law mandates its citizens to remain bound to a failed marriage for 10 months before they can legally start anew."

But the push to allow adults to decide when they want to remarry is running into some opposition. 

Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), a group that advocates for families in the state, told lawmakers in the fall that they "strongly oppose" the idea. 

WFA President Julaine Appling said changing the waiting period for marriage after a divorce could have men and women entering into a marriage before they are ready, it could lead to more divorces, and it could hurt the children. 

"Children should be a top concern in a divorce and remarriage situation," Appling told lawmakers. "Research regularly and repeatedly shows minor children are very vulnerable emotionally, socially, physically, and academically when their parents are divorcing. The well-being of a child should not be sacrificed on the altar of adult desires because a parent wants to immediately remarry after a divorce is finalized."

Appling and her group say it is in the best interest of everyone in Wisconsin to continue to have state government play a role in deciding when people can marry again. 

Staff Reporter

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.