Divorce is one of the most stressful life-changing events a person can go through. After building a life with someone else, everything must be separated and divided. It’s tough on couples, kids, and extended families, who all lose something in the process. Emotions run high which can lead to making decisions you later regret.
If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, have filed for divorce, or have been served divorce papers, you shouldn’t try to work through it on your own. For more than 30 years, The Law Office of Glen A. Norton has been helping clients in Minnetonka, Minnesota and surrounding communities navigate family law matters, including divorce. We can help you too, with compassion combined with legal expertise.
There are two types of separation couples can choose in Minnesota, separation and legal separation. Separation means the couple decides to live apart, which does not require any type of court filings. Still, separation might affect your legal rights so consulting with an attorney is a good idea.
A legal separation does require the filing of a petition with the appropriate district court. Although you remain married, a court approves the division of assets, custody of children, and even spousal support. A legal separation can take as much time and cost as much money as a divorce. And if you decide after getting a legal separation that you want to divorce, you are required to go through the divorce process with the court. While changes can be made to the legal separation agreement during the divorce process, such as approved custody and property division, the court assumes those will remain largely the same in divorce since the parties have agreed to them in the legal separation.
There are two avenues to divorce in Minnesota. If couples are unable to agree on the terms of a divorce, including divisions of assets and debt, child custody and visitation, and spousal support or alimony, the divorce is contested and the court will decide these issues.
However, if a couple can come to an agreement on these issues, they can draft their own terms with the help of their attorney and submit an agreement to the court for approval. This is an uncontested divorce. A couple wanting an uncontested divorce can agree to retain an attorney trained in the collaborative divorce process, disclose all financial information, and work toward agreement on all matters, including asset division, spousal support, and child custody. A collaborative divorce attorney works with other collaborative specialists that can assist in the divorce process including certified public accountants and mental health specialists, all who are experienced in guiding the family through a fair but peaceful divorce process.
Minnesota is a no-fault state for divorce, which means the court doesn’t consider why either party is seeking a dissolution of the marriage. One party needs only to petition for divorce on the grounds that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
A divorce is commenced upon the filing of a petition by one party in the appropriate court. The petition and summons are then served to the other party and that party has 30 days to file an answer to the petition. The time it takes for the court to dissolve the marriage depends largely on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. The latter typically takes less time since the court must decide many of the issues in a contested divorce.
Under Minnesota law, all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are marital property and are therefore subject to “just and equitable division” under the law. While the division of marital property is “just and equitable,” it is not always equal, meaning the division isn’t always 50/50.
In the division of assets and debt, the court considers six factors:
The length of the marriage;
Any prior marriages;
The age, health, station, occupation, amount, and sources of income for each spouse;
Vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, needs, the opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets, and income of each spouse;
The contribution of each spouse in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property; and,
The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker.
The stakes are high, even in an uncontested divorce. The terms of the divorce, whether mutually agreed to by the parties or decided by the court, will determine how you will be able to rebuild your life after the marriage is dissolved. The gravity of the agreement and implications for your future requires knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel. As your family law attorney, I will review your options, provide guidance in key decisions, and negotiate fair terms for a promising future.
Whether you’re thinking about divorce or the process has begun, call The Law Office of Glen A. Norton today to talk about how your future will look after divorce. Hundreds of family law clients in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and surrounding communities including Hennepin County, Plymouth, and Maple Grove have benefitted from our legal expertise and experience. Don’t wait any longer. Call our office today.