For better or worse, getting a divorce is much more difficult and time-consuming than getting married. Although it is possible to complete the process in a couple of months, this is rare; it often takes close to a year or, in some cases, several years from start to finish.
The purpose of this post is to provide a VERY simplified view of the process. [NOTE: This post discusses contested divorces. If both spouses agree on how to settle all issues, they can file a Joint Petition and a Stipulated Judgment and Decree.]
In Minnesota, a divorce typically begins when one spouse serves the other spouse with a Summons and Petition for divorce. Once a Petition is served, the other spouse must file an Answer, responding to the issues on which he or she disagrees. At this point, the court may or may not be involved. One of the parties must file pleadings to bring the court into the mix.
After pleadings are filed, the court will set a date for an Initial Case Management Conference ("ICMC"), and offer the parties the opportunity for Early Neutral Evaluation. I have discussed these in a prior post.
After the ICMC, the parties may engage in discovery. This is a process in which you ask the other party to provide certain information and documents that are necessary to resolve the matter. This is usually done on an informal basis in divorce proceedings, but the Court may get involved and the process formalized if necessary to get one or both parties to comply.
During the divorce process, either party may file one or more Motions with the Court. A motion is a formal written request that asks the Court to decide an issue. A Motion for Temporary Relief is one common example; it asks the court to issue a Temporary Order regarding such things as custody, child support, spousal maintenance, use of the home, or other issues. The Temporary Order will expire once the divorce is finalized.
At the end of the process, the Judge or Referee will sign a document called Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment and Judgment and Decree. After signing, the document is “entered” by court administration, at which point the divorce is final.
To discuss any issues relating to divorce, call Kruse Family Law at 612.231.9865 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.