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Help, I’ve Been Served With Divorce Papers

October 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Divorce, Family Law

Divorce Service in Minnesota

It’s an awful feeling, especially if it’s unexpected.  A sheriff or random stranger comes up and calls you by name.  You respond, only to be handed an unfamiliar pack of papers. 

Inside, one says the court is giving you notice that a divorce proceeding has been started.  The second shows a laundry list of facts your spouse are claiming as true, even though you strongly disagree.  It then shows everything your spouse is asking the court to do, including divorcing you, getting your children, and getting your property.

The most important thing to do is keep yourself calm.  Carefully read over the paperwork.  You are given a period of time, in Minnesota it’s 30 days, to formally respond.  Keep in mind, in Minnesota you generally can’t stop a divorce.  If one party wants one, he or she is going to get it.  At this point, you’ve got two options.

Defending Yourself in a Divorce

Your first is to try to go it alone.  If there are no children involved, not a lot of assets or debt, and you feel like you and your spouse can be agreeable, this can make a lot of sense.  You can keep your costs relatively low, make the process go more quickly, and hopefully easily move on with both of your lives.  The Minnesota Courts website have a lot of forms and instructions available if you want to try it yourself, including their self-help “I-CAN” service: Minnesota Family Court Self-Help Site

However, often there’s a lot more at stake.  You love your children and the idea of them not living with you or you not being able to make decisions for them is a scary proposition. 

In addition, especially if you’ve been married for a long time there often will be significant property (and possibly debt) accumulated during the marriage.  You want to protect your rights to the property and not to take on more than your fair share of any marital debt.

Getting a Divorce Lawyer Helps Level the Playing Field

As a general rule, the more issues at stake, the more complex the case, and if your spouse has an attorney (you’ll know from the original service paperwork), you will want to strongly consider getting a family law attorney to help you. 

If your spouse is working with an attorney and you are not, you will effectively be handicapped during all of the proceedings and when attempting to assert your rights.  Judges are not allowed to take sides to help level the playing field.  It is very possible you will not walk away with a fair shake.

Disclaimer

All of the materials available in this blog is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain legal advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between Majeski Law, LLC and anyone who uses it.