The court system considers a divorce to be a lawsuit, that ultimately gets decided by a judge after a trial, if the parties cannot come to an agreement. However, over 95% of divorce cases are settled before trial. Here is an outline of the basic steps that occur in a fairly typical divorce:
At the initial consultation step, we gather information, and discuss what other information needs to be gathered, in order to determine whether the parties are separated, whether safety is currently an issue, whether there are issues of parenting time or support, what property needs to be divided, the desires of the parties, the communication between the parties, and any potential need for spousal maintenance.
From there we discuss strategy, including whether we can settle the case all in one step with one proposed document, or whether information will need to be gathered from the other party. In Minnesota, we can serve the petition without filing anything. I typically hold off on filing until there’s either an agreement, or if we are stuck in our negotiations, because once we file, we are then on the court’s timeline.
If there is an agreement, the case can be filed and sent to the court. The judge can usually just sign off on the paperwork in chambers without a hearing, unless there are minor children and one party doesn’t have an attorney, in which case the court would need a final hearing.
If there is no agreement, we file the case, and from there we can opt into the traditional litigation model, with a temporary hearing to get issues sorted out pending the final decree, or, more typically, opt into the early neutral evaluation program, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution. That program is highly successful at getting parties to come to an agreement when they are stuck in their discussions.
A quick divorce that is resolved by way of an agreement usually takes about two to four months. We have custom tailored pay-as-you-go plans so you can come in and retain me without a large upfront down payment in most cases.