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 do so, and does not otherwise appear in the proceeding, he or she is in default.  This means that the initiating party can go to court, without any notice to the responding party, and obtain a divorce decree that grants just about any relief that person asks for.

So, how does one “Answer” a divorce petition.  First, I will tell you how you do not do it.  You do not send a letter to your spouse or to his or her attorney.  Nor do you simply call them up.

In Minnesota divorce proceedings, an Answer is a formal pleading that contains information similar to that found in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  An Answer usually contains a request that the Petition be denied and it contains its own prayer for relief.

In Minnesota, both a divorce Petition and a divorce Answer must be verified.  This means that at the end of the document, they must contain a sworn statement, signed under oath by the party, that the information set forth in the Petition or in the Answer is true and correct, to the best of the party’s knowledge and belief.  Additionally, in Minnesota, both a divorce Petition and a divorce Answer must contain a signed acknowledgment (usually signed by the attorney and the party) to the effect that the party is aware that attorney’s fees may be awarded to the other party, if the person signing the pleading is acting in bad faith, defrauding the other party, etc.

Tomorrow I am going to write a blog about attorney’s fees in Minnesota divorce proceedings.

Daniel Fiskum is a Minnesota divorce attorney who has been practicing since 1992. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has been named a "Super Lawyer" by the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics. Mr. Fiskum is currently writing a book for attorneys and non-attorneys entitled "The Streetfighter's Guide to Divorce," which is scheduled for publication in May, 2010. Many of his blog entries will appear in the book. You may contact attorney Fiskum directly at (952) 270-7700. His office is located in the Carlson Towers in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The Fiskum Law website is found at www.fiskumlaw.com.

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