The Maple Grove divorce lawyers with Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. have represented thousands of clients over the last 40 years. Our offices are conveniently located just fifteen minutes from The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, along Highway 610 near 10 and 47. We help clients from all walks of life with the following issues:
- Contested and Uncontested Divorce;
- High Conflict Divorce;
- High Net Worth Divorce;
- Military Divorce;
- Child Custody;
- Parenting Time;
- Child Support;
- Property Valuation and Division;
- Spousal Maintenance;
- Divorce Trials;
- Divorce Appeals; and
- Post-Decree Motions.
Because Maple Grove is situated in Hennepin County, most family law cases take place at the Family Justice Center in downtown Minneapolis. Click for directions from the Maple Grove Transit Center to the courthouse.
There are a number of helpful resources in Maple Grove that can help you during this time of transition:
- A list of reputable counselors who serve the Maple Grove area
- SafeJourney is a domestic abuse support group located at the Maple Grove Hospital
- A list of women’s shelters in and around Maple Grove
- Maple Grove Divorce Care at Church of the Open Door
- Family Support Group at Maple Grove Lord of Life Church
Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state. As a result, the judge in your case will generally ignore the question of what lead to a breakdown in your marriage. There is an exception, however, if the inappropriate conduct endangers your children or has caused significant financial strain.
There are four main issues involved in every divorce: (1) custody and parenting time; (2) child support; (3) property division; and (4) spousal maintenance. Our Maple Grove divorce lawyers have substantial experience with each issue, and routinely work with the top local experts to achieve the best outcome for our clients.
Custody and Parenting Time
The “best interest of the child” statute governs custody and parenting time issues. As a result, the court must consider 12 different factors in determining what is best for your child or children, including:
- the ability of each parent to meet the children’s needs;
- any special needs a child faces;
- a child’s preference, if they are of suitable age and maturity;
- whether there is a history of domestic abuse in your relationship;
- any physical, mental or chemical health issues of the parents or children;
- the role each parent has played in raising a child;
- the stability of the home environment offered by each parent;
- the ability of each parent to get along with one another;
- the willingness of each parent to facilitate a relationship between a child and the other parent;
- the ability of the parties to communicate with each other;
- the benefit or detriment of maximizing or minimizing parenting time; and
- the ability of each parent to meet the needs of a child.
In Minnesota, there are three types of child support: (1) basic child support; (2) medical support; and (3) childcare support. Basic support involves a monthly cash payment from one party to the other. Medical support involves a division of insurance premiums and uninsured expenses. Childcare support involves a division of work-related childcare costs. Each are determined pursuant to the Minnesota Child Support Guidelines. As a result, there is a calculator available through the Minnesota Department of Human Services that will allow you to easily determine how much child support must change hands.
Minnesota is an equitable property division state, meaning that the court is likely to divide your marital estate equally. Consequently, if you own a home, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts or other valuable personal property, questions will arise concerning the value of each item and the appropriate way to physically divide things. However, there is an exception in the law for “non-marital” property. Non-marital property is generally not subject to division and involves equity or valuables brought into the marriage, inherited during the marriage, or gifted during the marriage. We routinely work with expert accountants and CPAs located in and around Maple Grove as part of our representation.
Spousal maintenance (sometimes referred to as “alimony” is a cash payment one ex-spouse makes to another following divorce. There are a number of factors that play a role in the court’s determination of the amount, and duration, of a spousal maintenance award, including: (1) the income of each party; (2) the future expenses of each party; (3) the length of the marriage; (4) the role a spouse may have played as a stay-at-home parent or homemaker; (5) career sacrifices made by either spouse for the sake of the other; (6) each party’s age, health and education background; and (7) the lifestyle enjoyed by the parties during the marriage. Spousal maintenance awards can be permanent, or temporary, depending upon the length of the parties’ marriage.
The Divorce Process
A divorce is initiated by either spouse by serving and filing a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Once served, both parties will be required to appear in front of the assigned judge for an Initial Case Management Conference. At that ICMC, the judge will review the issues involved in your case and discuss the most productive way to move matters forward. In most cases, the parties will elect to participate in a form of alternative dispute resolution known as an “early neutral evaluation.” There are two types of early neutral evaluation: (1) social early neutral evaluation; and (2) financial early neutral evaluation.
Early Neutral Evaluation
In a social early neutral evaluation, two court appointed experts (one male and one female) will spend three hours with the parties, and their lawyers, listening to the custody and parenting time claims of each side and offering feedback. The evaluative opinion of the experts is confidential and non-binding. Once the experts render an opinion, the parties negotiate and see if they can come to a resolution. About 75% of the time, the custody and parenting time issues are resolved at the SENE.
In contrast, a financial early neutral evaluation focuses principally on financial issues – including the valuation and division of assets and debts, and spousal maintenance. Unlike an SENE, an FENE involves one appointed expert to meet with the parties, with attorneys, to discuss cashflow. A balance sheet is often created to address the marital property interests and to isolate non-marital property. Divorces involving business owners find the FENE particularly helpful, as the neutral expert can offer a number of approaches to valuing a business.
If the parties reach agreement during the ENE process, the evaluator will provide the court with a written report confirming the settlement. The agreement is then incorporated into a more robust divorce decree for the judge to sign. If the parties to not reach agreement following an early neutral evaluation, the parties face no option but to engage in traditional litigation.
Divorce litigation involves a number of phases, including: (1) discovery; (2) pre-trial conferences; (3) trial; (4) post-trial motions; and (5) appeal.
As part of the discovery process, an exchange of information among the parties takes place. Information is often exchanged through written interrogatories, requests for production of documents or depositions. Each party is required to disclose meaningful information to the other side, to allow each party to adequately evaluate their position in anticipation of trial. Our Maple Grove divorce lawyers and support staff are here to ensure that there is complete disclosure of all income, assets and liabilities in your case. f
Once discovery has concluded, the parties to the divorce attend a pre-trial conference. The judge assigned to your case will set aside time to meet with the lawyers and discuss settlement options. A large number of cases resolve during the pre-trial conference. If the case does not settle at the pre-trial stage, the court will set the matter for a trial.
Trials in a divorce do not involve a jury. Instead, the issues in dispute will be tried to the court. Divorce trials often take a couple of days to complete, while some require a week or more. The number of issues in controversy, coupled with the complexity of those issues, play a critical role in the overall length of the trial. Experienced divorce lawyers will meet with one another ahead of the trial, to try to stipulate to exhibits and narrow the disputed issues – keeping the time and costs associated with the trial as low as possible.
Once the trial has concluded, the judge has 90 days to issue a written decision. If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome, there are a number of post-trial motions that may be made. A motion for a new trial, motion for amended findings, motion for reconsideration or motion to correct clerical errors are relatively common.
Judges typically do not grant meaningful post-trial relief in divorce cases. As a result, many litigants take advantage of the ability to have a three-judge panel review the decision of the district court at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Divorce appeals are complex and time-consuming, but may result in a reversal of the lower court.
Need More Answers?
Do you work or live in Maple Grove and need a divorce attorney? We are here to help you. Our attorneys understand that a divorce is one of the most stressful experiences a person may endure. Everything that you care about is called into question – whether your ability to spend time with your children, remain in your home, or afford to live. We take our work very seriously and will take the time to get to know you. We also have a caring support staff with over 40 years of combined experience in family law.
Contact our Maple Grove divorce lawyers (763) 783-5146 to speak with a lawyer by phone or to schedule an in-office appointment.