Served with Divorce Papers

Served with Divorce Papers - Signing documents
Divorce papers sometimes ask for a signature

Served with Divorce Papers in Minnesota

Have you been served with divorce papers?  It’s an awful feeling, especially if it’s unexpected.  

One document says the Court gives you notice that a divorce proceeding has been started.  A second shows a laundry list of facts your spouse are claiming as true, even if you strongly disagree.  The papers also show everything your spouse is asking the Court to do.  This may include divorcing you, getting your children, and getting your property.

Keep calm.  Carefully read over the paperwork.  You have a deadline to formally respond.  In Minnesota, it’s thirty (30) days. In order to comply with the law and to fully protect your interests, your responsive documents also need to be served and filed using proper procedure and formatting.

Importantly, in Minnesota you generally can’t stop a divorce.  If one spouse wants one, he or she is going to get it.  At this point, you’ve got two options to respond.

represent Yourself

Your first is to to go it alone.  You are legally allowed to do so in Minnesota. The less issues and assets at stake, the more this may make sense.

For example, if there are no children involved, not a lot of assets or debt, and you feel like you and your spouse can be agreeable, representing yourself may work fine.  You can keep your costs relatively low, make the process go more quickly, and hopefully easily move on with your life.

However, often there’s a lot more at stake.  For example, if you have children the idea of them not living with you or you not being able to make decisions for them can be 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.

When you represent yourself, the Court will expect you to follow all deadlines and procedures.

hire a divorce lawyer

However, more often than not, retaining an divorce lawyer makes sense.  You should especially consider a divorce attorney to help you when:

  • The more issues at stake, including more assets and debts
  • The more complex the case, including custody and spousal maintenance issues
  • If your spouse has an attorney 

Reasonably, why would a spouse know all of his or her rights?  Spouses are not typically lawyers.  Therefore, the more issues at stake, the more likely an unrepresented spouse will not even know to request what they’re entitled to. 

Additionally, Judges don’t necessarily care what either spouse thinks is fair or what should happen.  They care what the law tells them how to treat divorce issues.  A lawyer will tell you how the law addresses all of the issues in your divorce.

If your spouse is working with an attorney and you are not, you will be handicapped.  You’ll be at a disadvantage throughout the divorce process.  This includes Court proceedings, mediation, and negotiations.  Mediators and Judges are not allowed to take sides to level the playing field.  It is far more likely you will not walk away with a fair shake.

Lastly, if you decide to retain an attorney, do so sooner rather than later.  This gives time for the lawyer to provide immediate advice.  It also gives the lawyer plenty of time to work with you to draft, file, and serve your responses.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.  For Court rules, please click here.