Frequently Asked Questions for a St. Paul Family Law Firm

If you are facing divorce or have another legal concern involving your family, you likely have many questions during this difficult time. Here, we address some common concerns people have when they come to our office.

  • What happens when I hire a divorce attorney at your office?
  • What's the first thing we do in a divorce proceeding?
  • Does it matter whether I initiate the divorce or my spouse does?
  • How long does it take to complete a divorce?
  • What are the child support guidelines in Minnesota?
  • Will I receive or pay alimony?
  • Are there guidelines for parenting time/visitation?
  • What is divorce mediation?

What happens when I hire a divorce attorney at your office?

In most cases, that attorney becomes your attorney of record, and is able to file and serve legal documents on your behalf and to receive documents on your behalf. The specific steps taken by the attorney vary based upon the facts and circumstances of the case, and will be determined in consultation with you. Please see our family law overview for more information about our services and approach to divorce representation.

What's the first thing we do in a divorce proceeding?

If you are initiating the divorce, we will draft the divorce petition. We can arrange to serve it on your spouse; however, serving your spouse with the divorce petition does not need to involve a third party delivering the papers to the spouse, if the spouse is willing to acknowledge receipt of the papers by signing an "Admission of Service." If you are not initiating the divorce, we will reply to the requests in your spouse's divorce petition, and identify disputed issues and undisputed issues in the divorce.

Does it matter whether I initiate the divorce or my spouse does?

Both parties are entitled to the same results in court, and are subjected to the same obligations to receive those results, whether they are the party initiating the divorce (Petitioner) or the party responding in the divorce proceeding (Respondent).

How long does it take to complete a divorce?

If all issues are undisputed, a divorce can be completed in as little as a few weeks. If there are major disputes that need to be litigated in court, the divorce can take many months. On average, a divorce that settles out of court takes two to five months. A divorce that requires a court trial takes on average 12 to 18 months. Your divorce may take a longer time or a shorter time depending on the specific circumstances of your case.

What are the child support guidelines in Minnesota?

Previously, the parent with physical custody (Obligee) received child support from the other parent (Obligor) based upon guidelines set forth in Minnesota law that considered the Obligor's income only. The court could set child support in accord with the guidelines or exercise discretion to deviate upward or downward from the guidelines. The Minnesota legislature passed a law effective January 1, 2007, which now takes both parents' incomes into consideration in all cases. For more information, please see our child support page.

Will I receive or pay alimony?

There are no guidelines for alimony (also known as spousal maintenance). Many divorce cases involve no alimony, in which neither party pays nor receives alimony. If there is a substantial income disparity between the parties, and the parties have been married a long time, there is a greater likelihood of alimony. You must discuss the specific facts and circumstances of your case with your attorney to rule in, or rule out, the possibility of alimony.

Are there guidelines for parenting time/visitation?

There are no specific guidelines in Minnesota law for parenting time (formerly called "visitation") with the child's non-custodial parent. In many cases, the parents are able to agree on a parenting schedule that is suitable for the children. However, if agreement cannot be reached, the dispute will be presented to the court for a decision. In those instances, the court will often obtain guidance from a neutral professional, such as a custody evaluator or a guardian ad litem, to determine what parenting schedule is in the children's best interests.

What is divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation is a process of resolving the issues in a divorce case by agreement of the parties, instead of by the decision of the court after a trial. After it is determined that there are disputed issues, and before the disputed issues are litigated in court, the issues are presented to a mediator, who is a neutral professional with no authority to impose a decision on the disputed issues. The mediator assists the parties in finding common ground, reasonable concessions, or creative solutions, in order to facilitate a mutually agreed upon resolution of the disputed issue(s).

How can I learn more?

If you have questions about divorce, child custody, spousal maintenance or another family law matter, please contact Bowden ♦ Cyr, PLLC. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your concerns and determine how we may help you.