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What Options Are Available For A Divorcing Couple In Minnesota?

In Minnesota, there are several options available for divorcing couples. Couples who are able to cooperate might benefit from the collaborative law process. However, it can be tough to represent both parties due to the fact that a disagreement can arise at any time. For this reason, I do not practice collaborative law; if someone wants to do a joint petition, I will represent only one client, and ask the other person to sign a waiver of independent counsel indicating that they understand that I am not representing them.

There are many reasons people get divorced. Often, people just don’t get along or can’t see eye to eye on an important issue. When there is a disagreement between spouses, it is difficult to try to represent both of them. Representing only one party allows me to focus exclusively on that person’s perspective. If the parties can cooperate throughout the process that’s great. If not, the other party is entitled to their own attorney, or they can proceed without an attorney. Regardless, I am still able to move the process forward for the parties. An attorney who represents both parties would be required to withdraw from the case entirely.

Is There Any Benefit To Being The First To File For Divorce In Minnesota?

The person who files first for divorce gets to pick the jurisdiction where the case is handled. For example, if one person lives in Hennepin County and the other lives in Ramsey County, the first person to file gets to choose the county in which they get divorced. This will have an impact on the ease with which each party will be able to bring in witnesses, and the overall convenience of dealing with the case in the chosen location. Each county operates a little differently, too. However, aside from being able to choose the jurisdiction, there really isn’t a benefit to filing first.

How Long Does The Divorce Process Generally Take In Minnesota?

After the parties file for divorce, the process can take anywhere from one month to four years; it really depends on how much each party is willing to compromise, the value of their assets, and the number of disagreements between the parties.

If the parties can cooperate enough to file a Joint Petition, the process goes pretty quickly. If there are no children involved, it’s even more quickly. Sometimes even without a hearing.

If the parties choose to file separately, the divorce process begins with the drafting of the summons and petition, followed by Service on the other party. There is a 20 to 30-day delay between the service and the filing because the second person involved has the right to file an Answer and Counter-Petition. Regardless of whether that happens, the court will set up an initial case management conference (ICMC) after the filing occurs. During that conference, the court will try to work with the parties to determine what the issues are for the parties and what type of alternative dispute resolution process, such as mediation or an early neutral evaluation (ENE) would be helpful to resolve the issues.

These processes involve an evaluator who is generally an experienced family law attorney, a certified CPA, or other professional. This evaluator provides an opinion about what the court might decide. The parties may be ordered to a Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) to decide parenting time issues or a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE). Depending on the facts of the case, the parties may be able to reach an agreement on at least some of the issues. The parties will need to take into account a number of considerations including, how much each party is willing to spend on attorney fees, how much the parties really want to fight the issue, and whether the outcome is likely to be in one or the other person’s favor. It’s not uncommon for people to be unsure about whether or not to settle, especially when they are emotionally invested in the process. For this reason, the process can be lengthy.

It is the court’s goal to encourage the parties to reach an agreement. If the parties can’t come to an agreement on all of the issues, then the court will try to narrow down the number of disagreements so that if a trial does become necessary, it will be less time-consuming for the courts.

For more information on Options For Divorcing Couple In Minnesota, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (763) 284-5552 today.

Kathleen Gomez

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