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Dec 21 2022

The 5 Stages of Divorce

While no two divorces are ever duplicates of one another, they all go through the same five basic stages, and having a better understanding of the process can help you proceed with greater focus. If you are moving toward divorce or have been served with divorce papers, one of the best steps you can take to protect your parental and financial rights is to consult with an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney. 

One: The Summons and Petition

To begin, one of you will file a summons and petition for divorce, which is often referred to as filing for divorce. The petition outlines the filer’s desire to obtain a divorce and requests that the court grant specific relief in relation to the applicable terms, including:

  • The equitable – or fair – division of your marital property
  • Legal custody and parenting time
  • Child support 
  • Alimony

The other party is served with the petition and summons, which informs them that divorce proceedings are underway and that they have only 30 days in which to respond before the court will hand down a default judgment. If you and your divorcing spouse are in agreement about seeking a divorce, the spouse who files can skip having the other served and can simply provide them with the necessary papers.

Two: The Served Spouse’s Answer

The spouse who is served with divorce papers – or the spouse who doesn’t file for divorce – typically has only 30 days to respond with their answer, which should address the petition on a line-by-line basis. The answering spouse may file a counter-petition – or other paperwork – of their own in response, which can delineate their own argument for divorce and can request their own relief. 

Three: Request for a Hearing

If you and your divorcing spouse are engaged in negotiating your divorce terms between yourselves, which may include mediation, it can take a considerable amount of time, and in the process, you may need to request a temporary relief hearing in which concerns such as the following are addressed:

  • Temporary child custody arrangements
  • Who is responsible for covering which expenses in the interim 
  • Temporary alimony
  • The matter of who will live in the family home 

If you have resolved the terms between yourselves, you will request a hearing to have your terms approved and included in your final divorce decree, and if you’ve exhausted your options in relation to negotiations, you’ll need to request a hearing in which the court will settle those terms that remain unresolved. 

Four: The Hearing

If your divorce case is ultimately contested, which means that one or more terms remain unresolved, you will head to court for a hearing at which both sides will present evidence and witnesses in support of their positions. 

Five: The Judgment and Decree 

Ultimately, the court will either hand down orders regarding your unresolved divorce terms or will approve the divorce terms you’ve mutually agreed upon. This step finalizes your divorce, and the orders are enforceable. 

Look to an Experienced Minnesota Divorce Attorney for the Help You Need

The knowledgeable divorce attorneys at Atticus Family Law are committed to providing you with skilled legal guidance from start to finish – in focused pursuit of your case’s best possible resolution. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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