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Divorces can be complex and difficult to navigate. They can vary in length based on the judicial process parties decide to take. To begin a divorce proceeding, a Summons and a Petition for Dissolution must be properly served upon the opposing party. What happens after the initial pleadings are served and filed with the court?

Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC)

Once a Summons and Petition is filed with the court, an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC) is scheduled. Each hearing set my the court will be provided on a pleading call a “Notice of Hearing.”  An ICMC is generally a short introductory hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to meet your judge and inform the court of how you would like to proceed with your case. Parties can attempt to settle through an alternative dispute resolution process or proceed with litigation to a trial.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

If the parties choose to try an ADR method, the court will order it at the ICMC hearing. A Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) or Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) will be set. While these meetings are not in the presence of the judge, parties can come to agreements with family law evaluators regarding certain topics or their case as a whole. If the case ends up settling, a stipulated agreement will be drafted to supply to the court.

Should the parties be unable to reach an agreement, the parties will proceed to a Pre-Trial hearing and a trial.


Trial is the last step for a family law matter. At the Pre-Trial hearing, the court will issue a Pre-Trial Order which will specify the court’s deadlines. The deadlines often include specific dates that exhibit and witness lists must be submitted to the court and provided to the opposing side.

Trials can be scheduled for a day or numerous days depending on the issues at hand. At the trial, the judge will listen and review the evidence of both sides and issue a decision. Under Minnesota Rules, the judge does have ninety days to make a written order.

If you have questions about divorce or your upcoming family law hearing, contact our office. Our experienced divorce lawyers and qualified legal support staff will help you through the process to insure you are receiving the best possible results.  Our office can be reached at (763) 783-5146 or by submitting an online inquiry through our website.