Minnesota is a "no-fault" divorce state, and has been since the mid 1970's. Typical issues involved in a divorce include custody, child support, property division and spousal maintenance. While some divorces come to conclusion following a trial, the vast majority of cases resolve outside of the courtroom.

While it’s not often talked about, divorce can be just as traumatic for a blended family as it is for any other family. Tight bonds often form between half-siblings, as well as between children and step-parents, all of which can make splitting up a blended family very painful for all involved. To complicate things even further, many times the children in a blended family have already been through a divorce with their biological parents, so the mesh of extended family is now even more complex. If you’re in the process of divorce within a blended family, here are some tips for keeping things as clean, composed and civil as possible for the sake of all involved.

Don’t Fight in Front of Children

No matter how severe the rift between you and your ex, keep it between the two of you. Involving your children or step-children in your disagreements only puts unfair pressure on them to divide their loyalties and take sides.

Be on the Same Page with your Ex Regarding the Split

As far as breaking the news to your kids, explaining the reasons for the divorce and how the split will take place, both of you need to present a united front. When the parents have different versions of what is happening, it only adds to the confusion and pain.

Encourage Open Dialogue

Just as with any other divorce involving children, the kids should have the freedom to ask questions, express emotions and process what is happening. This open dialogue is all the more important with a blended family because the children aren’t just processing a split between two biological parents; they’re processing a possible separation between half-siblings themselves. If tight bonds have been formed, the pain is likely to be more acute.

Encourage Ongoing Relationships

When a blended family is established and new relationships form, those relationships should not be jeopardized or cut off just because you and your spouse are separating. Stress to the children that even though they may not be living together in the same house anymore, they are free to maintain friendships and relationship with each other and with their step-parents, if they so desire.

Under Jewish tradition, a man and a woman are married forever, even if they get a civil divorce from a secular court. However, their own biblical literature allows for a man to divorce his wife if he finds anything “unseemly” about her (Deuteronomy 24: 1-2). For that divorce to be recognized by Jewish authorities, the man must give his wife a written divorce paper, which is called a get.

By tradition, the get is written in Aramaic, and it also contains 12 lines of text. Another unusual aspect of the get is that it is tailored to the specific condition of the couple using it. In other words, there is no “form,” or formula, for writing the document, but a professional scribe for the husband usually writes it.

The get must be given to the wife by the husband in front of two witnesses and in the presence of a special rabbinical court called a beth din. The court then issues a certificate of divorce and hands that to both parties. If either party can’t make the appointment, however, they can choose an agent to stand in for them.

Other Interesting Religious Divorce Rituals from Around the World

An ethnic minority group in China, the Jing, writes a divorce certificate, but they are careful not to write it inside the home. Once it is signed, the pen and inkstone are thrown away, because they represent bad luck.

In Japan, one zen temple allows women the opportunity to literally flush their marriages down the toilet. In this ritual, the woman writes a list of post-marriage aspirations on a piece of paper and flushes it down the toilet.

Unitarian Universalists celebrate their divorce in a Ceremony of Hope. The couple gathers in front of family and friends and a minister to apologize to each other for any pain inflicted during the marriage. Family and friends vow to support the couple in their divorce just as they did in their marriage.

When it’s time to finalize your divorce, the way you dress for divorce court can have an impact on the outcome of your case. This isn’t to suggest that the judge won’t be as impartial as possible regardless of what you wear—it’s just to say that the judge is a human being, and humans are affected by first impressions. According to Business Insider, you only have 7 seconds to make a first impression; the Association for Pscyhological Science says first impressions can take as little as one-tenth of a second! Since no one makes a conscious judgment within that time, first impressions obviously happen subconsciously, which is why you want to look your best in order to keep your appearance from becoming an issue that subtly works against you.

What should you wear to divorce court?

Appropriate courtroom dress should convey professionalism and respect without drawing too much attention to oneself. Think of it as dressing for an important business meeting: a clean dress shirt, necktie and coat for men; a fashionable dress, skirt/blouse or business suit for women. Make sure your clothes are clean and fit you well. Wear jewelry in moderation to enhance your look without dominating it. You’re aiming for a look that represents you well while remaining conservative and neutral. You don’t want your appearance to be the “main event.”

What should you not wear to divorce court?

Avoid wearing anything that is either too casual or too distracting—a loud green suit will probably not do you any more favors in the courtroom than a pair of sweats. Below are some other examples of what not to wear:

•    Jeans, tee shirts, shorts or other overly casual clothing
•    Clothing that is particularly low-cut, revealing or provocative
•    Noisy or gaudy jewelry (you don’t want to jangle when you walk)
•    Expensive accessories (wearing that Rolex watch to court might suggest to the judge that you can afford more alimony)
•    Hats or sunglasses

Additional tips for a professional look

Besides clothes and jewelry, the following tips should help enhance your first impression with the judge:

•    Cover tattoos. While body art is more common nowadays, it can still convey an unwanted message in court. Wear long sleeves to cover your tattoos.
•    Avoid body jewelry. Body piercings convey a message similar to tattoos, so leave the nose ring at home for today.
•    Remember good hygiene. A shaven face, fresh breath and modestly applied cologne/perfume can go a long way toward a positive impression.

By coming to court well dressed, you’re sending a message that you respect the judge and take the proceedings seriously. Dressing appropriately for divorce court won’t necessarily make or break your case, it will at least ensure your appearance doesn’t get in the way.

In a recent article in the New York Times, Dr. Kerry Maguire reportedly threatened to divorce her dentist husband, Dr. Tom Stossel, if he voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election. While we don’t know whether he actually voted for Trump (or whether she is going through with the divorce, if he did), it raises an interesting question: Will some couples opt for divorce over this particularly bitter election? Will the deep divides that have already split some families on this issue begin to affect marriages, as well?

Not a Typical Election

Perhaps it seems rash to divorce one’s spouse over their choice of presidential candidate, and in most situations, it probably would be. However, this was anything but a typical election, and for many, ideology had very little to do with it. On one hand, we had Hillary Clinton, a Democrat whose career had been marred by controversy and scandal—but still, we had the opportunity to elect our first-ever female President. On the other hand, we had Donald J. Trump, the boisterous billionaire-turned-reality-television-star who for many represented an opportunity to shake up the government—yet Trump is a controversial figure in his own right, known for racist, sexist and bullying remarks.

For many, this wasn’t a choice of Republican or Democrat, but a choice between two very polarizing characters fighting it out in the most unorthodox campaign season of our lifetimes. It’s little wonder that divisions have run deep, not just between friends, but among family members as well:

•    For many, a vote for Donald Trump meant a vote against females, minorities, or a vote in favor of white supremacy.
•    For many, a vote for Hillary Clinton meant a vote to propagate a corrupt political machine, or a death knell for the pro-life agenda.
•    For many, a vote for either candidate represented a chance to keep the other’s dangerous agenda at bay.

Is Politics a Reason for Divorce?

In most cases, probably not, but it’s understandable why some couples might be considering it. For many, this vote felt personal, and voting for the opposing candidate often represented a personal affront. That being said, if you’re currently at odds with your own spouse over the 2016 Presidential Election, remember that divorce is a serious and fairly permanent solution to what may be a temporary rift. Before you cite it as an irreconcilable difference, we recommend talking with your spouse at length to see if you can find common ground before deciding to separate.

Thanksgiving is about more than turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie; it’s a time to reflect on all the things that are wonderful in your life. Unfortunately, if you are currently in the midst of divorce or legal separation, your life might not seem all that wonderful. After all, a relationship that was once filled with promise and excitement has now deteriorated past the point of reconciliation. At a time like this, it’s best to take an introspective look at yourself and your life, and realize that tough times don’t last. The Thanksgiving holiday affords you the opportunity to count your blessings and discover that, while things may not be so great now, they could always be a lot worse.

How Meditation Can Help

Meditation may be the furthest thing from your mind during divorce proceedings, but research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests that people who participate in mindful meditation are able to effectively reduce their stress and anxiety levels. Thanksgiving and other holidays can stir up memories of happier times with your spouse, but meditation can put those memories into perspective.

Turn to Friends and Family Members

Thanksgiving is about spending time with the people you love most. At first glance, that makes Turkey Day and any other winter holiday seem like an unwelcome ordeal for divorcees. Just remember: while your marriage may not have worked out, you still have an entire support system of friends and family members standing by your side. During difficult periods in your life, sometimes you just need someone to be there for you — what better time than Thanksgiving to have those people show their support? Make the most of the time you have with family and friends over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and you will find yourself enjoying the little things in life a lot more than you otherwise would.

The end of summer prompts feelings of regret and sadness in many Minnesotans, and not just because they dread shoveling snow or driving on icy roads. The quickly diminishing sunlight contributes greatly to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that correlates with seasonal patterns. The divorce process always takes a toll on ex-spouses, but SAD can make this already harrowing experience that much more difficult.

How Daylight Savings Time Exacerbates SAD Symptoms

Symptoms of SAD include sleepiness, anxiety, poor appetite, and lack of motivation. These symptoms may begin to arrive already before daylight savings time kicks in, as the days naturally get shorter when winter approaches. SAD sufferers get one extra hour of sleep when the clock falls back, but at the price of even less sunlight exposure when it’s most important. Researchers believe that morning exposure to light helps SAD sufferers far more than light in the evening, but unfortunately, daylight savings time is explicitly designed to extend evening daylight. This shift messes with millions of years of evolution, which never prepared humans to deal with such a sudden change in daylight exposure. It is, perhaps, for this reason that the rate of auto accidents rises dramatically during the first few days after daylight savings time goes into effect.

How Daylight Savings Time and SAD Impact Divorce

During daylight savings time, the emotionally charged process of finalizing a divorce can easily exacerbate the already problematic symptoms of SAD. Contentious disagreements with your ex, coupled with stressful sessions in divorce court, deplete your already tapped reserves, making it that much more difficult to get through the day.

Be mindful of symptoms, and visit with a medical professional if you are having an unusually difficult season.

You’ve filed for divorce. It’s a process that can take plenty of time, even when uncontested. Your lawyer will likely advise you to avoid contact with your ex at this time, but checking in on them on social media can be tempting. Resist the urge to check his or her Facebook page; it’s unproductive emotionally, and it may even affect your case.

Social media is a useful tool for many things, but it’s made divorces more difficult. It means we have to see our ex’s posts every day. Lawyers may even scour your Facebook page for incriminating information. For example, say you’re in the negotiating stage of spousal support, and you’re posting information about your latest shopping spree. Lawyers could use such posts as evidence of disposable income.

Use the following good social media habits during a divorce:

Watch What You Post

If you’re feeling frustrated about the latest blip in your divorce proceeding, it can be quite tempting to vent on Facebook. Such an act may negatively affect your case. Join a private support divorce group, or talk to friends privately. It’s healthy to talk through your emotions but not in a public medium.

Keep your soon-to-be ex-spouse and children out of all your status updates. Refrain from commenting on your days in court or any communications from the other side. Post about other things. Save your arguments for your lawyer and the courtroom.

Check Your Privacy Settings

Block your soon-to-be ex-spouse on Facebook and other social media outlets to avoid temptation. Such an act will prevent you from seeing his or her status updates. It also prevents him or her from finding you. Check your privacy settings on all social media outlets to see who can find your page and what information is available to the public—and lawyers.

Step Away From the Computer

Divorces are emotionally-trying proceedings. Checking Facebook constantly won’t help you feel better. It may actually make you feel worse. Get away from your virtual friends, and start spending time with your real world ones. Get out of your house for a night: see a movie, get dinner, or organize a game night. Socializing with others will take your mind away from your current situation. Sitting at home and posting on social media will make you yearn for what you’re missing.

You often hear that you “marry the family.” A divorce means you may have to maintain a relationship with your ex-in-laws for the sake of the children. You also might like your ex-in-laws and want to keep in touch with them. It is possible to maintain a healthy relationship with your ex-in-laws if you use the right approach.

Prepare Yourself

You were close to your in-laws prior to divorce. Or maybe you didn’t like your in-laws prior to divorce. Regardless, your relationship will change despite your past or present feelings. Your ex-spouse may say negative things about you to your ex-in-laws or even your children. You can reach for some level of closeness, but never expect things to be the same.

Put in the Extra Effort

You may already be feeling stretched thin, but a good relationship with your ex-in-laws requires extra legwork. Be direct with them: “We’ve been family. I want to keep it that way. What can I do to make this work?” Your ex-in-laws may or may not respond to your overture. Be prepared for either response, and don’t take it personally.

Think of Your Children

Maybe your relationship with the in-laws was always fractious. It may be tempting to let things fall apart. Think of your children, and work towards a good relationship for their sake.

Avoid Negativity

Avoid saying anything negative about your ex-spouse or anyone else. Request your ex-in-laws to remain positive and avoid name-calling. Make sure this rule applies around your children. Is there some hostility? Consider having a therapist or other third-party involved to negotiate the relationship. Gently remind your ex-in-laws that everyone has a duty to the children.

Include Them

Maintaining a positive relationship with your ex-in-laws means involving them in your children’s lives. Invite them to help plan birthday parties, host holidays, and participate in family outings.

Be Patient

Mending a relationship takes time. You need time to process your divorce. Your ex-in-laws also need time to process. Give them time to heal, and don’t expect too much at first. Remain diligent and positive. You can have a relationship with those you used to call family.

Getting married these days is expensive enough, with some even modest weddings costing six figures. Divorce can likewise be expensive, uncomfortable and messy. Understandably, many people want to shortcut the process to conserve resources and speed things up. In light of these economic realities, it’s probably not that surprising that a strange new phenomenon is gaining traction – the online divorce.

Can couples really dissolve a marriage by getting it done online?

Unfortunately, yes.

The process is often much cheaper than using an attorney (at least in the short term). It’s also faster. But it also carries tremendous risks and can, ironically, backfire and lead to months or years of expensive legal fighting.

If you and your partner agree on everything regarding your separation – division of assets, child custody arrangements, spousal support, etc. – then it is at least theoretically possible that you could get an online divorce and get through the process without bad repercussions. According to reports, you simply tell the divorce service what you want, and they draw up the paperwork.

Why Using an Attorney is Generally Much Better Than Relying on an Online Divorce Service

If you and your spouse disagree on financial matters, child custody arrangements, or basically anything, then you will almost certainly want to discuss your situation with an attorney. As a skeptical article in the Financial Times put it: “Would you do your own plumbing, pull out your own teeth, or self-diagnose an illness?”

The article continued with a cautionary tale from across the pond:

“A case in point is Andrew McLeod-Baikie, a 52-year-old father-of-four, who paid £600 to get an online divorce
from his wife Susan in 2011, according to reports of a magistrates’ court hearing. Mr McLeod-Baikie, however, did not obtain the decree absolute, which makes a divorce official, before marrying again. His first wife alerted the authorities when she saw pictures of his second wedding on Facebook.  Mr McLeod-Baikie, of Cresselly, Pembrokeshire, pleaded guilty to bigamy. Magistrates at Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, fined him £400 and ordered him to pay £400 in costs, according to a report of the hearing in the Daily Telegraph.”

An attorney can fight for your rights in the divorce and seek to get you a fair outcome. With an online divorce service, meanwhile, you may never even speak to an attorney. Your paperwork will simply be a cookie-cutter form that may have been prepared by an attorney, but it will be in no way customized for your unique situation. By hiring an attorney to handle your divorce, you ensure that you have an advocate who will speak for you in the legal system.

An uncontested divorce in Minnesota can take as little as four weeks, although 60 days more likely. More difficult divorce cases – where the parties disagree on many issues – can end up taking years. The surest way to get a quick divorce in Minnesota is to not contest it. An uncontested divorce is a divorce where one party files for the divorce, and the other party doesn’t try to convince anyone that the divorce should not take place, nor does the defending spouse attempt to argue about division of assets. If you agree on everything, the divorce will happen quickly.

Most divorces, however, do not end that quickly. Even with the best of intentions at the beginning, it can be surprisingly hard to get both spouses to agree on subtle features of the separation. Simple seeming cases, even when skillfully and mindfully guided by a competent attorney, can surprisingly evolve into more complicated disputes that cost money and time.

Factors That Determine How Long a Minnesota Divorce Takes

How long it takes to complete a divorce from the time it is filed depends on a number of factors. In Minnesota, those factors include:

•    How cooperative you are with your spouse. Do you argue with their point of view every step of the way or give into their wishes?
•    How cooperative is your spouse with you? Do they argue with you over details; fight to keep you from getting what you want; or battle tooth and nail to get what they want?
•    How well your attorney protects your rights while facilitating the settlement.
•    The philosophy, actions and reactions of your spouse’s attorney .
•    The number and complexity of disagreements between you and your spouse. Do you fight over custody of the children, division of assets, spousal maintenance, visitation rights, etc.?

If you want your Minnesota divorce to go smoothly, work with your attorney to develop creative negotiating strategies, and figure out how and under what circumstances you will be willing to compromise on your vision for what you want. Some luck is also required. If your spouse is unwilling or unable to compromise or negotiate in good faith, or if his or her lawyer adopts an uncompromising stance, you will likely struggle to reach an equitable agreement, and litigation may be inevitable.