Divorce is one of the most stressful events in a person's life. It may also be one of the scariest-in part because of the unknown. But it doesn't have to be.
The process for getting a divorce is relatively straightforward. Knowing it will give you a sense of control over a situation in which you may feel prone to powerless.
The first step, at least as far is the court is concerned, is the filing of the divorce petition. The petition must contain certain statements in order for the court to have jurisdiction to hear the case. For example, you must allege that a marriage exists between the parties to the divorce; you must allege that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage; and you must request an order for a divorce.
There are other requirements in addition to these, and if you have children, the requirements basically double. The easiest way to ensure that your petition is adequate is to consult with an experienced Twin Cities family law attorney.
You will also have to pay the filing fees for the case. In Minnesota, these fees vary by county, but you can count on a fee around $400 in most jurisdictions.
You must also serve the petition on your spouse. Typically, certified mail delivery will suffice. If there is an issue with this type of service, however, the rules can get complicated, so it is best to consult with an attorney.
After you send your spouse a copy of the petition, you can expect your spouse to respond with a formal answer. The answer will respond to each of the allegations you made in your petition.
At the time of filing for a divorce, you can request the court to make an initial determination on many of the issues that will be decided during the divorce proceedings, such as child custody or visitation. These determinations are temporary.
Prior to the final hearing, you and your spouse will conduct some pretrial preparation. The main focus during the pretrial period is on discovery. Discovery is the process by which both parties gather information for the trial. In divorce cases, this information is typically receiving from the other spouse, and it usually concerns the parties' financial assets and obligations.
The court may also schedule one or more pretrial conferences. These conferences are typically related to case management, during which the court ensures that both parties are complying with discovery requests and are ready for trial. The court may also attempt to narrow the number of issues that must be heard during the trial and/or encourage the parties to reach a settlement agreement.
After discovery, you and your attorney will likely engage in a number of negotiation talks with your spouse and his or her attorney. These negotiations will deal with the division of the marital assets and child custody. In most cases, the parties are able to reach an agreement regarding these issues without the need for a full trial.
During the final hearing, the court hears the evidence on any issues that the parties could not agree on, makes the final determinations regarding issues like asset division and child custody, and enters the divorce.
While the process may seem daunting at the outset, it is a pretty simple one. Hiring the right attorney can make a world of difference. Experienced attorneys can walk you through the process and give you insight about the strengths and weaknesses of your positions.
Unfortunately, the simplified divorce process does little to make the overall situation less stressful. But with the right attorney, you can at least minimize the impact of the legal obstacles.