law offices serving both
the Brainerd Lakes
& Little Falls Area
Do I Need a Lawyer for my Divorce?
The dissolution of marriage can be a particularly painful event in a client’s life. At Mallie Law, we understand that, and do everything we can to help you get through this part of your life as fairly and efficiently as is possible. As a very specific kind of legal contract, marriage requires very specific series of steps in order to for parties to separate fully. That’s why our past clients requested a divorce attorney in Brainerd and Little Falls, MN.
As with all of family law, not all divorce proceedings are contentious and bitter. Many divorces are mutual and, as such, can be resolved with good faith negotiations. This may still require a mediator, and attorneys for both parties often serve as just such mediators. That said, sometimes litigation is necessary, and in such a case, legal representation is the best way to ensure you are treated fairly throughout the entire process.
What are the Steps of a Divorce in Brainerd, MN?
Generally, a divorce proceeding begins when one party serves the other with a Summons and Petition for Dissolution, which the served party then has 30 days to respond with their own pleadings. Contrary to popular belief, there is no advantage to serving or being served. Once a response has been generated or those thirty dates have expired and the original summons and petition have been filed, the Court will schedule any Initial Case Management Conference. During this conference, the parties have the opportunity to amicably agree on various issues of their divorce, such as custody, child support, property division or maintenance.
If the parties cannot agree to issues of child custody or parenting time the court can order that the parties attend an SENE, or Social Early Neutral Evaluation. Before the court orders this form of mediation the parties must agree to utilize this form of mediation since it is not mandatory especially if there are allegations of domestic abuse. This form of mediation only deals with child custody and parenting time. The parties can also agree to utilize a process called FENE, or Financial Early Neutral Evaluation, which attempts to resolve any outstanding financial issues stemming from the divorce such as property division, child support and spousal maintenance. It’s important to note that while in mediation, nothing said during that process can be brought into trial or any court proceeding whatsoever.
Parties often come to an agreement after utilizing one or both of these forms of mediation. However, if they do not, the court may order that an independent evaluator be appointed, often at the expense of the parties to make a recommendation on issues such as child custody and/or parenting time. If the parties have not come to a resolution after using the FENE process, they have the option of hiring an independent evaluator to make a recommendation regarding any outstanding financial issues.
If a trial needs to be held to resolve any outstanding issues stemming from the divorce, we work to make sure that you get the fairest result possible, and sometimes when the other party is not as interested in that fair result, a trial is the best was to proceed. That said, most divorce cases are resolved well before a trial. Once all parties agree, a judge will sign off on and finalize your divorce.
Important Issues in Your Divorce Proceeding
As with any legal case, there may be some aspects of your divorce proceeding that are more complex than others, if only because they might involve stronger emotions. These may include the following:
- Spousal Support: Because marriage is a partnership, one spouse may, for example, put his or her career on hiatus in order to better perform a role within the marriage. As such, that spouse may require financial assistance to maintain a standard of living to which he or she has become accustomed. Whether spousal support is required and how much that spousal support may be is determined through negotiation and mediation. The determination of spousal support is definitely one stage where it is incredibly beneficial to have an advocate on your side. Spousal support can be composed of monthly or weekly payments or it can consist of one lump-sum payment. As your advocate in the matter, your attorney at Mallie Law will work to ensure that you get the best spousal support result possible.
- Property Division: Unless there is a specific prenuptial agreement dividing property, assets acquired during your marriage are generally split evenly among parties. However, the definition of “evenly” and who gets what can both be thorny issues that are clouded by emotions and passions. Division of property can include everything from homes and vehicles to retirement accounts and stock assets. In order to properly and fairly divide this property, it’s beneficial to have an advocate in your corner that can argue—within the law—for your claims on certain items or specific proportions of items. Additionally, attorneys in this matter may be able to propose compromises that had not occurred to either party, but which leave both parties satisfied.
How to Choose a Divorce Attorney in Brainerd
As residents of the Brainerd area, we at Mallie Law know how sensitive and important divorces can be for our clients. We work hard to ensure that you get the best possible results in a way that is respectful, private, and fair. We want to help you emerge from your divorce ready to start a new chapter in your life and move on to whatever is next.
If you have questions about your divorce in the Brainerd Lakes area or in Little Falls, contact Mallie Law today.