First Divorce Decision: Where to Venue Your Case?

The venue for a divorce, generally, refers to the location where dissolution proceedings will be heard. If you are filing for divorce in the State of Minnesota, venue refers to the county in which your divorce will be handled. The first step in initiating divorce proceedings in the State of Minnesota involves the service and filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. In order to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, either … Read More

What are the Differences Between Judges, Family Law Referees and Child Support Magistrates?

In Minnesota, family law matters are typically handled either by a family court judge, referee, or child support magistrate.  There are minor variations in the legal authority and responsibilities of each such official, and there is also some variation in the types of cases that they preside over.  Most family court hearings in Minnesota are presided over by judges. A family court referee may get involved, but only in certain counties that … Read More

I’ve Filed for Divorce in Minnesota. What’s Next? Go!

As early as three weeks after filing for divorce, the parties must appear before the judicial officer assigned to their case. This first appearance is called the "Initial Case Management Conference." The ICMC is an informal hearing. No arguments are presented, or decisions made - except for a determination concerning how to move forward in the most efficient manner. Any issues that are not resolved among the parties can be resolved through … Read More

Minnesota’s Social Early Neutral Evaluation Model for Divorce and Paternity Cases

More than 95% of the cases we handle settle short of trial. When custody issues are involved, many of our clients participate in a process known as social early neutral evaluation - an SENE. In a social early neutral evaluation, the lawyers and clients will meet with a pair of evaluators. These individuals are usually social workers, custody evaluators, or experienced family law practitioners. The team will consist of one male and one female, … Read More

Contempt in Minnesota: Consequences of Ignoring Court Orders

The court is responsible for controlling the conduct that occurs within its doors, but also has to deal with issues outside of the courtroom when it comes to family matters. It is typical for a contempt motion to be made in a family law case when one party has violated an order of the court, such as an order to pay child support, spousal maintenance, or a parenting time arrangement. The contempt rules are rather strict, in an effort to … Read More

Gambling, Alcohol Abuse, Drug Use, Cheating & Dissipating: Fault In A No-Fault Divorce State

The lawyers with Thyden, Gross & Callahan, LLP, authors of the Maryland Divorce Legal Crier, recently published an article entitled "Putting the Fault Back into No-Fault Divorce." They point out that despite the fact that several states on the east coast have moved (like Minnesota in the 1970's) to "no-fault" divorce, fault still creeps into the mix. The same is true in Minnesota. While easy to simply utter "we're a no-fault state," we're … Read More

Family Court: A Few Simple Rules To Follow

Thanks to Mark Pfenning, a divorce lawyer and author who has published many articles geared toward helping parties through the divorce process. His recent article, Divorce Courtroom Tips, provides some helpful strategies and a useful summary of the basic rules of decorumin family court. Here's what Mark has to say: Settle Some Things. This means the judge won't be in control of everything. Expect Unfavorable Decisions. There are three … Read More

What Is An FENE…And Why Do They Work?

More and more Minnesota counties are providing divorce litigants with an opportunity to resolve their financial issues through a process known as "Financial Early Neutral Evaluation." Settlement success rates in the FENE model are astonishing - as high as 75% in some jurisdictions. An FENE involves a half-day session (or two, or three, or four) with a court-appointed neutral. This neutral typically is an experienced family law attorney, or a … Read More

Division Of Retirement Assets In Divorce: Field Guide To QDROs, SEPs, ESOPs, TSPs And Other Beasts

In addition to homes, automobiles, bank accounts and furniture, retirement plans may be "marital property," subject to an equitable divisionamong the parties to a divorce. Many twenty-pound books have been written about the methods of valuing, and dividing, retirement interests. In fact, some lawyers make their living handling only the orders associated with slicing and dicing retirement plans, for two key reasons. First, this stuff is rather … Read More

Sudden Divorce Syndrome: Two Experts Weigh In

Statistics show that there will be about a million divorces in the United States this year.  Interestingly, 75% are filed by women.  More and more, attorney Robert Mues says, his male clients are telling him that they were completely “blind-sided” by the divorce situation.  These are individuals in long-term marriages who have honored their wedding vows, are not abusers, and had not been separated. This scenario is becoming so common that some … Read More