Divorce Lawyer in Shakopee, Minnesota Including Scott County, Carver County and Dakota County
Christian R. Peterson is an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney that can help you navigate through your contested divorce – cases in which there are significant issues (such as custody, property division or spousal maintenance) requiring the attention of the court.
Contested divorce cases tend to involve four distinct stages:
- Preliminary case workup;
- Settlement Discussions; and
Not every case will reach each stage of the divorce process. In fact, about 95% of our cases are settled before trial. Some cases are not contested at all. However, if you and your spouse have some disputed issues, you can expect your case to follow a rather traditional path through the court system.
Stage One: Preliminary Case Workup
During the first stage of a contested divorce, the preliminary case workup, we ask a lot of our clients. They must provide us with all of the information and documentation necessary for us to effectively represent them, including income information, bank statements, credit card statements, property documents and titles. All of our clients complete a thorough questionnaire. Once we have sufficient information, we draft the initial Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, have the client sign off on it, and determine the best way to serve their spouse with the initial papers. Once served, we file the documents with the court and secure a place on the docket. Our preliminary case workup usually takes about 30 days, but sometimes occurs much sooner.
Stage Two: Discovery
During the second stage of a contested divorce, the “discovery stage,” we ask a lot of the other side. Discovery allows us to gather any information your spouse may have in their possession and determine the position they will take on the issues in the case. In the interim, we may meet with the judge to have a decision on temporary custody, child support, possession of the homestead and spousal maintenance. Various experts may be involved in your case to assist with the valuation of property or business interests, or to perform a custody evaluation. Often the discovery phase of a case takes several months.
Stage Three: Settlement Efforts
Once we have the discovery phase completed, we position your case for settlement. We might try mediating or sitting down with the other side to discuss various settlement options. Meanwhile, the court will require all parties to attend a pre-trial hearing to discuss settlement of the disputed issues. If we are able to reach a settlement that is fair and equitable, our lawyers prepare a marital termination agreement. This agreement outlines all of the terms in writing and is signed by both parties in front of a notary, along with all attorneys. We when submit the agreement to the court for final approval. The majority of cases are resolved this way.
Stage Four: Trial
If we are unable to resolve your case, we prepare for trial. All divorces in Minnesota are tried to the court, not to a jury. The length of the trial depends on the number of issues involved in your case. Some cases are tried in a day, others take several days. Trials are expensive (a single day in court costs several thousands of dollars on each side) and emotionally draining, but sometimes very necessary. Most often, the cases we take to trial involve disputed custody and spousal maintenance issues. Within 90 days of the trial, the court must issue a written decision on all of the issues presented in your case. If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the trial court, you have 60 days in which to file an appeal.