When it comes to your divorce proceedings, it’s important to understand the entire process. Here’s what you need to know about divorce proceedings in Lake Elmo.
You may have heard the statistic thrown around that 50% of marriages will end in divorce. That number dates back to the 1970s, when divorce rates were the highest in history.
Since then, divorce rates have shown a steady decline. 2019 had the lowest rate of divorces in history, with only 7.6 marriages out of every 1,000 ending in divorce.
While rates might be lower, if you’re considering a divorce, it can feel daunting and emotional. Understanding the divorce proceedings before you begin can help prepare you for this emotional life experience.
Read on to learn more about the divorce process and how to prepare for your divorce proceedings.
The Divorce Process
Once you decide on divorce, you might have the whole business done as quickly as possible. Yet, it’s important to understand that getting a divorce is a process.
Your marriage isn’t over until the court signs off on it. This requires some legal steps for you and your spouse to go through. This can get more complex when children, a business, or property are part of the picture.
Every state has specific different laws related to divorce. In Minnesota, the divorce process is pretty straightforward. Most couples can get through it in around a year without too many complications.
Before you get too far along, you want to consider legal help to ensure your interests are protected. A reasonable divorce attorney can help you think things objectively during an emotional time.
Many couples begin the divorce process with a separation. In some cases, the separation can be a trial separation.
The couple wants to see how being separate works for them. Maybe they use the time to work on their marriage or themselves individually.
Couples might use a trial separation as a break from the marriage and a time to regroup before making a fresh start with it. Couples still weighing the merits of divorce might use a trial separation as a test for themselves.
Some couples opt for a legal separation when their religion doesn’t recognize divorce. Other couples will separate and make it a legal separation. In this case, they go to court and seek a legal separation.
Couples might also opt for a legal separation and stay legally married still for things like tax purposes, health care, or social security benefits.
It’s important to note that either type of separation is not a divorce. Even if you legally separate, in the eyes of the law, you’re still married.
Grounds for Divorce
Once you’re ready to proceed with your divorce, you’ll have to decide if you’ll seek a no-fault or a fault divorce.
All states allow for a no-fault divorce. This simply means that you and your spouse agree that the marriage is over, and neither is specifically to blame. You just have irreconcilable differences and want to proceed with the divorce.
A fault divorce is more complex and often more expensive. In this scenario, one spouse is saying the other spouse has done something that caused the end of the marriage.
Filing for Divorce
When you’re ready to proceed, you need to file a divorce petition with the court. This document is called the Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Minnesota.
This is a formal document stating you wish to dissolve the marriage. Once you file this document, it gets served to your spouse. The court gives your spouse 30 days to respond to the filing.
The court requires couples to attend a mandatory Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) conference in Minnesota. This typically happens around 60 days after filing.
The conference occurs with a neutral third-party evaluator who helps to identify the issues the couple will need to overcome during the divorce process.
Response or Default to Filing
Once your spouse receives the filing for divorce, they have to decide how they will respond. If they don’t respond within the 30-day window, the court will consider it a default divorce.
This means that the court will grant your request in the divorce filing.
If your spouse responds, divorce will continue through the court system. This means that things like property and custody will be addressed through court proceedings.
Since many divorces take a long time, the next step is a temporary hearing to work on the divorce arrangement.
A temporary hearing can help to address many things, including:
- A temporary custody agreement
- Parenting time agreements
- Child support
- Decisions about marital expenses through the divorce process
- Potential spousal support
Typically, the court will place restrictions on any sale of joint assets or use of joint assets, including credit cards and bank accounts.
The more easily you and your spouse can agree on the division of property and children, the quicker you can draft a settlement agreement.
A settlement agreement is a legal contract stipulating how all things connected to the marriage will be divided.
The settlement agreement needs to be filed with the court, and if it meets the state’s legal requirements, the judge can sign off on the divorce.
For many couples, agreeing on the settlement terms is the most challenging and emotional part of a divorce. Even for couples who mostly agree to the divorce terms, having a divorce attorney can be helpful during this stage of the divorce process.
A trial becomes necessary for couples who find it impossible to come to an agreement, or the divorce has many messy components.
In this case, the judge will oversee a trial where both sides present evidence and witnesses to show their side of the case.
The judge then decides the case. This can be painful and expensive and often has unsavory outcomes for both sides. Your lawyer should do everything possible to seek an amicable settlement agreement.
Getting an Attorney
Some couples start the divorce process thinking they don’t need a divorce lawyer. Often that just doesn’t work out well.
Many couples worry about the cost of an attorney, knowing that some charge by the hour. This can quickly get very expensive. You want to look for an attorney who will charge you a flat fee for their divorce services.
You want legal assistance to ensure you’re both following the law and having your best interests protected.
Divorce is an emotional experience, even if it’s one you seek. Having a divorce attorney represent you means you have an objective voice guiding you through the process.
Let Your Lake Elmo Divorce Attorney Guide You Through Your Divorce Proceedings
Understanding the divorce proceedings, what’s involved, and the timeline can help to prepare you for the experience. Then, if you decide to proceed with a divorce, you work to get through it with as little cost and disruption as possible.
If you’re still considering whether divorce is the right path for you, let us talk to you about what to expect through the process. Contact us today to help you end your marriage as easily as possible.