Divorce in Minnesota
Divorce in Minnesota: The Process in a Nutshell
The process of divorce in Minnesota can be a lot longer and more drawn out than the outline provided below (especially if the parties are in strong disagreement and there are multiple and complicated issues). However, this article will give you a general idea of the processes involved in a Minnesota divorce.
A contested divorce in Minnesota starts when a summons and petition is served by one party, called the petitioner, on the other party, called the respondent. When we say “served” it means that these documents (the summons and petition) have been delivered by someone (who is at least 18 years of age and is not the petitioner him/herself) to the respondent. When this happens, the divorce proceeding has officially started.
The respondent has 30 days to respond with an answer.
* As an aside, it’s generally not true, that the party who files first is at an advantage in the divorce.
When the case is originally filed, an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC) will be scheduled, usually within a month of the first filing. At this informal meeting, the judge will talk with the parties, encourage settlement and help the parties plan out the remainder of the case. If necessary the judge can order procedures to help evaluate custody issues or alternative ways to work out disagreements (such as, mediation or social early neutral evaluation).
At alternative dispute resolution, like mediation, the parties will try to resolve whatever disagreements they have. If the couple can solve all issues, these can be put into an agreement and submitted to the judge. If the couple cannot each a settlement during mediation, the divorce process continues.
After trying alternative dispute resolution methods and perhaps going through a temporary hearing, the case will move towards a pre-trial conference. The pre-trial conference helps the judge identify what issues the parties still disagree on, provides another opportunity to settle, and determines the time the parties will need for a trial. The parties can still reach an agreement at the pre-trial conference and therefore, avoid a trial.
After the parties come to a full agreement at the pre-trial conference or after a trial is held, the judge will review the case thoroughly and sign off on an order which then becomes the divorce decree. When the court has filed the decree, the couple is officially divorced.
Divorce in Minnesota: Potential Issues
Divorce in Minnesota, or in any state for that matter, is a complicated matter.
Here are some of the questions you’ll want to consider so that such issues get addressed in your divorce decree:
- Who gets to be with the children and when? Who gets custody? Where will they live? Who gets to make decisions about the kids?
- Will one side have to pay the other to help support the children? If so, how much?
- Will one side have to pay the other spouse alimony? If so, how much and for how long?
- How will property be split up? Does it matter who got it? Who used it? When it was purchased? What if I got it as a gift or in a will? What if it was from a settlement? What about retirement and bank accounts?
- How will debts be split up? Does it matter who took them on or who benefited from them? When they happened?
- Who gets to stay in the house? What if the house is underwater?
- What happens if there’s domestic violence or threat of domestic violence is involved?
For more specific information on divorce in Minnesota, please review the relevant questions on the right column of this page.