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An individual can file for divorce in Minnesota even if they cannot locate their spouse. Under such circumstances, we would send the divorce paperwork or process server to their last known address, and potentially hire a skip tracer to find that spouse. If these actions don’t work, then we could ask the court to allow us to serve the spouse by alternate means, such as by publishing a notice in the local paper, which would count as service by law. Once that service is completed, we could pursue a default divorce. The person who files a default divorce would likely be granted everything they requested (e.g., child support, custody) as a result of the other person failing to respond or appear.

Once A Mother Files For A Divorce In Minnesota, What Temporary Custody Orders Can Be Put In Place To Protect Her Children?

When protection is needed, a restraining order, temporary custody order, and child support order can be put into place. If the situation is not one that would meet the standard for obtaining a restraining order, we could ask for temporary custody and parenting time during the pendency of the court case. The temporary custody order may or may not wind up being the permanent custody order. Temporary custody orders are usually reserved for cases that are going to last for quite a while due to the parties not agreeing on any aspect of the divorce, and/or the existence of considerable assets.

What Happens Once A Petition For Divorce Is Filed?

Contentious divorces involving spouses who cannot agree on anything, but instead need the court to decide every single issue, can be very lengthy and costly. If both parties agree to all of the issues in the divorce, then they can file a joint petition with the court, which is the easiest and fastest way to get a divorce in Minnesota. Generally, joint petitions can be completed and signed by the court within four to six weeks. Similarly, we can often help spouses work through a stipulated agreement, which we can file with the court and have completed relatively quickly.

The first step in a divorce is to prepare the paperwork, and the second step is to serve the paperwork. There are several ways to serve the paperwork; the method chosen will be decided in collaboration with the client based on what they know about their spouse and which method they believe would be most successful. For example, we might decide to serve the spouse in person rather than by mail. After the paperwork is served, we will file the paperwork. The spouse has the right to file an answer and counter-petition (if it is our client who has been served, then we will help them file an answer and counter-petition).

Once those are filed with the court, the court will set up an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC), which is the first hearing in the divorce process, during which the judge will talk to the parties about the divorce process and gather information about the issues in the case, such as whether there are children involved, whether the parties have agreed to a parenting time plan, custody, and primary physical residence, whether the parties have agreed to support arrangements, and whether the parties have agreements with regard to marital assets. Depending on the county, these hearings tend to be informal.

The ICMC sets the stage for the rest of the divorce process, and once it is over, the court will be required by law to order the parties to engage in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Alternative dispute resolution is a category that involves mediation, whereby a neutral third party who does not represent either spouse tries to get the parties to agree on as many issues as possible.

Other options include a Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) and a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE). An SENE is designed to resolve issues relating to the children, and involves an evaluator who examines the facts of the case, explains the legal basis for the case, and tells the parties how they believe a judge would rule in the case. An FENE is designed to resolve issues relating to the division of assets, and similar to an SENE, involves an evaluator who examines the facts of the case and tells the parties how they believe a judge would rule in the case.

Evaluators and mediators are usually experienced family law attorneys, so they know the laws and have a good idea of how judges would rule given a particular set of facts. The important distinction is that evaluators and mediators are not advocates for either party, but advocates for the law who aim to get the parties to reach an agreement. These processes often result in an agreement, although both parties will have to compromise on some things. Parties will need to prioritize what they want to fight for. Going forward, it’s very important for there to be a basis for communication between ex-spouses, for at least as long as the children are minors.

In an abusive situation, the court is not required to order alternative dispute resolution, and if either party states that they are not comfortable arguing the issues with the other party, then the court will not order alternative dispute resolution.

When it comes time to decide custody, the court looks at the best interest factors, of which there are 12. These include the presence of domestic abuse, mental health, substance abuse, or addiction issues, how each parent interacts with the children, how the parties make decisions together, and the nature of each parent’s relationship with their children.

If the parties can’t make decisions together, that’s going to be a factor in the court’s decision about whether or not to award joint custody to both parties or sole custody to one party. If the parties are not able to agree on certain issues—whether because they did not try or were not successful in ADR—the court will want to set a pretrial hearing during which the remaining unresolved issues will be narrowed down to the greatest extent possible. After that, the court will set a date for trial. Prior to trial, the parties will need to gather evidence, and serve and request evidence. Depending on the issues and evidence presented, the trial might be very long, or quite short.

After that hearing, the court will make a decision on the issues. Post-trial actions might be made by either party depending on whether or not the parties feel they were treated fairly in court. If the parties were able to agree to a stipulated agreement, then the process will be over. Regardless of how the case is ultimately resolved, knowing that it is over is usually a relief for both parties.

For more information on Divorce Cases 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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