Getting divorced is never a couple’s ideal outcome; it can be a very stressful, emotional, and complicated for everyone involved in the process.
Unfortunately, in the United States, 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce, 60-67% in second marriages and 73-74% in third marriages. Having guidance from an experienced attorney that you can trust is the key to navigating through the process and obtaining a favorable outcome.
In Minnesota, a divorce is called a “Dissolution of Marriage.” To get divorced in Minnesota, one of the spouses must have lived in Minnesota for at least 180 days before starting the case. Getting divorced can take several months, and sometimes years, before your divorce is final. Cases are usually complicated by the amount and types of property involved as well the issues involving minor children.
Notwithstanding, although most cases start out in dispute, many parties are able to reach agreement with the assistance of attorneys and other professionals.
In Minnesota, one spouse must start the divorce by “serving” a Summons and Petition on the other spouse. The spouse who received the Summons and Petition must read the documents and decide how to respond. If the couple can reach an agreement, a divorce decree can be prepared and sent to the court for approval. In the alternative, if there is disagreement, the spouse who received the Summons and Petition should prepare and serve an Answer and Counter-Petition.
Pending the final resolution of the divorce, either spouse may bring a motion for temporary relief. A motion is a formal way of asking the court to decide an issue in a case. A motion for temporary relief allows a spouse to ask the court to issue a temporary order for child custody, child support, spousal support, and certain property issues. The temporary order will expire when the final divorce decree is entered.
The number of times you go to court depends largely on local court procedures and whether you and your spouse can agree on issues regarding your children, property and other matters.
An alternative to going to court is to try and resolve the issues through a form of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is the most common form of alternative dispute resolution in family cases, and involves having a trained neutral party to help reach agreements on issues that need to be resolved. Aside from mediation, there are evaluative and quasi-determinative processes which can often help lead to a mutually acceptable settlement.
Effectively navigating the legal process is very difficult without an experienced and trusted attorney.