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What are the various stages of the divorce process?

One of the scariest parts of divorce -- aside from the emotional challenges -- is the fact that spouses don't know what to expect during their proceedings. As such, it should be every Minnesota divorce lawyer's priority to educate his or her clients about the stages of divorce, so that spouses can feel calmer and don't experience any surprises during the process.

The average Minnesota divorce proceeding could involve the following 10 steps:

-- The divorce begins with a divorce petition or complaint that explains the reasons for the divorce, and how the spouse wishes to settle different custody, financial and other issues.

-- The divorce lawyer will submit the petition with the appropriate family law court.

-- The petition will then be served, meaning that the other spouse receives it along with a summons requiring that the other spouse responds.

-- The other spouse submits his or her response. The other spouse must respond within a set amount of time with an answer. If the other spouse fails to answer, the court will assume that the other spouse is in agreement with the initial petition.

-- Documentation and information will then be exchanged. This information is used to determine property division, child custody, alimony and child support decisions.

-- If appropriate, the couple will try to arrive at an out of court settlement, either through informal negotiation, mediation or another means.

-- If the couples can agree to a settlement, the judge will approve of the agreement during an informal hearing.

-- If the agreement is approved, the judge will provide a decree, certifying the settlement. If it isn't approved, it may need to be revised, or the divorce must go to trial.

-- At trial, all the information, evidence and witness testimony will be presented and argued before the judge, who will later make a decision and grant the divorce.

Are you worried about what to expect in a Minnesota divorce? By speaking with an experienced family law attorney, you can get an idea of what your divorce will be like before you make your decision to begin the process.

Source: FindLaw, "A Divorce Timeline," accessed March 25, 2017

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