Minnesota Divorce Procedure

Divorce and Joint Tax Returns

Around this time of year we at Fiskum Law are often asked about whether a divorcing spouse should file a joint tax return with the other spouse.  Our answer is “it depends.” When you sign a joint tax return with a spouse, you become jointly and severally liable for the tax debt owed.  This means .. read more

Minnesota Government Shutdown

Like most Minnesotans, whether Republican or Democrat, I do not like to see our state government shut down.  I hope our elected representatives do what needs to be done to get our state open for business again. The Minnesota court system will remain open for now.  It is possible that some services might be curtailed, .. read more

Minnesota Divorce in 2011

As followers of this blog know, I believe that the biggest challenge currently facing the family court system in Minnesota is lack of adequate funding.  I think it is important that everyone communicate to their legislators how important it is that Minnesota courts be adequately funded.  Lack of adequate funding results not only in fewer .. read more

The Future of Family Law in Minnesota?

The fact is that I do not know what is going to happen in the future, anymore than anyone else does. But, I think it is possible to make some prognostications based upon what is happening now. In my opinion, the Minnesota district court system, including the family court, is facing a crisis of funding. .. read more

MN Divorce Lawyers – How to Pick One

Once in a while people ask me how to pick a good divorce attorney. Generally, an attorney with more experience charges more than an attorney with less experience.  That does not mean that you are necessarily going to get a better deal with a less experienced attorney, nor does it mean you are going to .. read more

Can I Represent Myself in a MN Divorce Proceeding?

People sometimes ask me whether they can represent themselves in a Minnesota divorce proceeding.  The answer is “Yes.”  One can always represent oneself in a court proceeding. However, you need to keep in mind that in Minnesota, it is also legal to remove your own appendix. Just because its legal doesn’t mean that it is .. read more

MN Divorce – Temporary Hearing

In a Minnesota divorce proceeding, if the case is not resolved early on by the Early Neutral Program or mediation, the next step might be a motion for temporary relief.  A “motion” is when one asks the court to do something.  In divorce cases, the usual motion seeks to have the court award temporary child custody, .. read more

Minnesota Divorce Procedure

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, most courts in Minnesota do not use an Early Neutral Evaluation program.  In those counties, the procedure that takes place during the divorce is somewhat different. Most Minnesota divorce courts convene a pre-trial hearing to talk about the scope and parameters of the case.  Often this is .. read more

MN Divorce – The Next Step

For those of you who have been following the blog, I am writing about the various steps in the divorce process in Minnesota.  So far, I have talked about service of the Summons and Petition (by the Petitioner) and service of the Answer (by the Respondent). Typically, each party files his or her pleading with .. read more

MN Divorce – What Is An “Answer”?

In the previous post I talked about the divorce Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  Service of these documents is the event that commences a divorce proceeding in Minnesota.  A person who is served with a Summons and Petition has 30 days in which to serve an Answer.  If he or she does not .. read more

MN Divorce, Fear and “Discovery”

I am a Minnesota divorce lawyer.  I practice divorce law in Hennepin County, Minnesota.  Divorce varies significantly from state to state, because it is pretty much a creation of state (not federal) law.  However, one thing that I think is common in all divorces, regardless of where they take place, is “fear.” One of the .. read more

Minnesota’s child support law

People who are getting divorced in Minnesota often ask questions about Minnesota’s child support laws.  The Minnesota child support statute changed significantly in 2007.  If you were divorced before 2007, you are probably operating under the “old” system.  If you were divorced after 2007, you are operating under the new system.  You can read the .. read more

Online Divorce Scams

I spoke to someone yesterday who said she had paid $250 for so-called “online divorce.”  She said she didn’t get divorced and she didn’t get her money back.  So called “online divorces” are a scam.  Do not waste your money.  Regardless of what the scammers say, you cannot get divorced online.  At best, all the so-called .. read more

Minnesota Divorce and Retirement Assets

Often people ask me about how to divide retirement assets when they get divorced.  As I’ve mentioned before, Minnesota is a marital property (or common law) divorce state.  It is not a community property divorce state.  (Most states are community property states.  Minnesota is not.)  In Minnesota, a division of assets is supposed to be .. read more

The Divorce System In Minnesota

One of the problems with the divorce process in Minnesota is that procedures vary greatly from county to county.  This should be corrected by the Minnesota legislature. Historically, the model for the divorce process in Minnesota was the “litigation” model.  In other words, divorce was treated like any other lawsuit.  Motions for temporary relief were .. read more

The Cost of Minnesota Divorce

People often ask how much it costs to get divorced.  The answer is “it depends.”  Certain costs are predictable.  Currently, it costs $400 to file a divorce petition in a Minnesota district court.  Some counties charge slightly higher, depending upon the amount of the surcharge for the county law library.  If each party appears in .. read more

MN Divorce Mediation – When Is It Necessary?

There are a lot of misconceptions about divorce mediation in Minnesota.  The following might be helpful: 1.  What is mediation?  It is a process in which the parties to a divorce action and their attorneys meet with a neutral third party in an attempt to resolve disagreements through negotiations. 2.  Should we do mediation right .. read more

Hennepin County FENE

In Hennepin County, they have a program called “Financial Early Neutral Evaluation.”  It is similar to the custody and parenting time neutral evaluation program, but there are differences.  For example, there is only one evaluator and the parties are required to pay him or her an hourly rate.  I have participated in Financial Early Neutral .. read more

How to Pick a Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota

People sometimes ask me for advice on how to pick a divorce attorney in Minnesota.  Usually these are people who have never needed an attorney in the past.  They have no experience with the legal system, no experience with attorneys, and have no idea where to begin. Generally speaking, it is best if a person like .. read more

MN Orders for Protection and Divorce

In Minnesota, there is a type of court order that is called a “domestic abuse order for protection.”  This is an order that is intended to protect an abused party from an abuser.  Typically, a domestic abuse order for protection provides that the abuser may not have contact with the abused party, and that if .. read more

MN Divorce and Child Support

The Minnesota child support law were significantly revised effective 2007.  Under the new child support law, income from both parents is used in calculating the amount of support that is paid.  Income from a new spouse or new significant other is not used in the calculation. An interesting feature of the new child support law .. read more

Divorce Mediation in MN

People often ask me about mediation.  Mediation occurs when two parties to a divorce try to negotiate an amicable settlement with the help of a neutral third party.  I am all in favor of mediation, though because it costs quite a bit I usually try to resolve the case directly with the other party’s attorney.  .. read more

Minneapolis Divorce Lawyer

Every once in a while, people ask me whether I will travel to out state Minnesota to represent someone in a divorce proceeding.  Usually the answer is “yes,” but I have to qualify the answer.  As a Minneapolis divorce lawyer, I primarily work in the greater Twin Cities are, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding .. read more

Appealing a MN Divorce Decree

People sometimes ask about appealing a case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  Generally speaking, it is difficult to overturn a judge’s decision on appeal.  But, like all of us, judges are human and they make mistakes.   Sometimes an appeal is necessary. What follows is not legal advice.  You have not retained Fiskum Law or MN .. read more

When Should You Hire an Attorney?

A lot of people wonder if they really need an attorney.  Or, they may think they need an attorney, but want to bring him or her onboard only towards the end of the proceeding. When people who are getting divorced ask me whether they need one, my answer is “Yes.”  Of course, I am an attorney .. read more

What are Family Court Referees?

There are two counties in Minnesota that use “referees” in family court.  These counties are Hennepin and Ramsey.  A referee is a judicial officer who has authority to make rulings in divorce cases.  A referee does not have the same level of authority as a judge.   Typically, orders issued by family referees are “recommendations” that .. read more

Why Divorce Sucks

Divorce is a difficult process.  It is jarring.  It is emotional.  Aside from the death of a loved one, divorce is probably one of the more miserable experiences a person will have.  People going through a divorce have anxieties about the future.  They have concerns about how divorce will impact their children.  They have worries .. read more

MN Divorce Proceeding – Temporary Relief

In a Minnesota divorce proceeding, the temporary relief hearing can be the single most important aspect of the case.  At a temporary relief hearing, the judge will make decisions on a temporary basis–decisions about temporary child custody and parenting time, temporary child support and temporary spousal maintenance, temporary occupancy of the home, and other issues.  Since .. read more

Collaborative Law in Minnesota

Occasionally people ask me about “collaborative law.”  They want to know what it is, and whether it is “better” than other alternatives.  I never answer this question directly.  I have many attorney friends who practice “collaborative law,” and I respect them and what they do.  To answer this question, I just present the questioner with .. read more

MN Divorce and Attorney’s Fees

If your spouse is keeping all of the family money for himself or herself and you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you should ask the court to award you attorney’s fees, to be paid by your spouse.

MN Divorce and Bankruptcy

Minnesota Divorce and Bankruptcy: Often people who are contemplating a divorce are also contemplating bankruptcy.  Marriage relationships can deteriorate quickly when there is significantfinancial pressure.  In this circumstance, bankruptcy can be a reasonable option. If you are considering bankruptcy at the same time you are considering divorce, you need to consult with both a bankruptcy attorney and .. read more

401(k) Plans and Financial Emergency

People who get divorced often have 401(k) retirement plans.  The funds in a 401(k) plan are “qualified” funds.  This means that the income tax on these funds, and income tax on the interest or gain realized by these funds, has not yet been paid.  The income tax is paid later, as the funds are withdrawn from the account.  The withdrawal .. read more

The Future of Divorce in MN

I have practiced divorce law in Minnesota since 1992.  During that time, there have been significant changes both to the law, and also changes to the court system itself.  In my opinion, the most significant change to divorce law in the past 20 years is the change to the way child support is calculated.  Now, .. read more

MN Divorce and Extra-Marital Affairs

Fairly often I am asked whether one spouse’s extra-marital affair has an impact on a divorce proceeding.  The answer is “it depends.” First, let me say that I have great empathy for a spouse who realizes that he or she has been cheated on.  This knowledge can be devastating.  Many people go to marriage counseling to .. read more

MN Divorce and Guardian ad litems

In contested Minnesota divorce cases, a guardian ad litem is a person who is appointed by the court to represent the interests of children in a divorce proceeding.  Typically, the guardian ad litem does not perform a custody evaluation or parenting time evaluation.  However, he or she will participate in the process, appear at court .. read more

What Is Discovery In Minnesota Divorce?

In Minnesota, a divorce proceeding is a lawsuit, similar to just about any other district court proceeding.  Minnesota divorce procedures are governed by the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, which are court rules that regulate all legal proceedings in Minnesota courts.  Additionally, there are other, more specific rules pertaining to divorce proceedings that are set forth .. read more

Moving Children Out of Minnesota

After a divorce is over, one parent may want to move out of the State of Minnesota.  That parent may have physical custody of the parties’ minor children, and will probably want to bring the children along.  Regardless of whether you are the person wanting to move with the children, or the person wanting the children .. read more

The So-Called $99 Divorce is Probably a Scam

Its no secret that the government is running low on money these days.  The court system (which is one of the three branches of government) is running low on money too.  Recently, Minnesota Chief Justice Eric J. Magnuson gave an interivew that was published in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, in which he commented openly on .. read more

How To Deal With Jerks

This may be hard to believe, but when you are involved in the practice of family law for any period of time, you will run into your share of jerks.  Often, these are opposing counsel — men and women — who believe that the best way to accomplish something is to be either insulting or .. read more

What is Early Neutral Evaluation?

Early Neutral Evaluations occur mostly in Hennepin County, Minnesota.  Many people do not know that the procedure for getting divorced in Minnesota varies from county to county.  In Minnesota, the court system is organized into “districts.”  There are 10 judicial  districts in Minnesota.  Some judicial districts are comprised of several individual county courts.  Other judicial districts are .. read more