Minnesota Divorce Checklist

Man ticks boxes off Minnesota divorce checklist

Preparing for divorce in Minnesota and going through it requires careful planning. When making decisions on the distribution of property, child custody issues, and other divorce matters, the list of things to do can help couples navigate the legal process more efficiently.

Seeking advice from professional family law attorneys, collecting necessary divorce documents, getting acquainted with legal requirements in the state, and assessing the financial status of both parties are vital steps in preparing for the dissolution of marriage.

This article on what to do before a divorce provides useful information for couples looking for a comprehensive checklist during divorce preparation.

1) Decide on the Type of Divorce

According to divorce laws in Minnesota, it is a no-fault state, meaning spouses are not required to provide evidence of any wrongdoing by either party to get a divorce. The petitioner can just declare the marriage is irretrievably broken, implying there is no prospect of resuming the spousal relationship.

Depending on whether spouses have disputes on the divorce terms, the case can be contested or uncontested.

  • In a contested divorce, parties cannot agree on child custody and support, division of assets and debts, and spousal support.
  • Conversely, an uncontested divorce is possible when spouses are in agreement over all significant aspects. It is usually a faster, less expensive, and more amicable process. This type of divorce empowers a couple to retain control over the final decisions rather than leaving them to the court’s discretion. Also, it is possible without hiring an attorney.

2) Have a Conversation With Your Spouse

Spouses negotiate divorce in Minnesota
Engaging in a conversation with your spouse before pursuing divorce in Minnesota is highly advisable, as open communication can streamline the process.

Open and honest communication between spouses helps decide on divorce-related issues without extra stress. Emotions may run high during these discussions, but approaching them with empathy and respect will significantly benefit both parties.

If communication becomes difficult, seeking professional guidance, such as counseling or mediation, can prove helpful. These services provide a neutral environment for spouses to navigate complex issues, find common ground, and work toward mutually satisfactory agreement. It is key to minimizing conflict, reducing legal costs, and facilitating a quick divorce process.

3) Obtain Divorce Documents

Preparing legal paperwork is one of the most important steps when getting ready for marriage dissolution. Minnesota divorce forms are available online through the official court website, where spouses can download them in PDF format.  

Though preparing papers on your own is cost-effective, it may have potential risks. Spouses must carefully read and understand each form’s instructions to accurately fill them out. Mistakes or omissions could lead to delays due to court rejection of the paperwork. Besides, it is possible some specific forms cannot be found online.

If the case is uncontested, spouses can order papers from an online service. After completing an easy-to-navigate questionnaire, you only need to wait a few days and download documents from your profile. The system will automatically select the appropriate divorce forms for your case and fill them out with the information provided. This way, you can get a full set of divorce papers quickly and at a reasonable fee.

4) Prepare Personal Information

Among the first steps in any divorce process is gathering personal information that you must specify in the divorce paperwork. Thus, make sure you have access to:

  1. Marriage certificate.
  2. Identification documents such as social security cards, driver’s licenses, passports, and birth certificates.
  3. Contact information of spouses and their lawyers if parties are represented by legal professionals.
  4. Health insurance policies.
  5. Protective orders, if any, etc.

5) Prepare Financial Information

Divorce involves the division of marital assets in Minnesota, making it essential for the court to have comprehensive information on spouses’ financial situation. Spouses must gather the following data:

  1. Bank statements from all individual and joint bank accounts for the past several years.
  2. Tax returns from the past few years.
  3. Debts and liabilities such as mortgages, loans, credit card debts, and student loans.
  4. Retirement accounts such as 401(k)s or pensions.
  5. Documentation on property, including titles, deeds, and mortgage information.

6) Consider Child Custody and Support

Spouses Can't Agree on Child Support During Divorce in Minnesota
Obtaining child custody support in Minnesota can be challenging, involving a thorough evaluation of the child’s best interests.

During a divorce in Minnesota with a child, spouses should determine the desired custody arrangement and be prepared to present supporting evidence in court. When considering sole or joint custody in Minnesota and working on a parenting plan, parties should keep the child’s best interests in mind. When calculating the amount of child support payments, it is necessary to:

  • familiarize yourself with Minnesota’s child support guidelines to estimate potential financial obligations,
  • consider factors such as each parent’s income, childcare costs, and health insurance coverage,
  • determine medical and educational expenses, which will be divided between both parties.

Documenting these decisions will help ensure clarity and prevent disputes on child-related matters.

7) Protect Your Privacy

Lastly, it is essential to safeguard your personal and financial information during the divorce process. Take the following measures:

  1. Change all passwords associated with online accounts, including email, social media, and financial platforms.
  2. Update beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, etc.
  3. Inform your employer and financial institutions that you are going to divorce. Confirm that their records are up to date and reflect the necessary changes regarding taxation and benefits.
  4. Protect critical personal documents and confidential information.

To sum it up, divorce can be a complex and emotional process, and this checklist can serve as a guideline to prepare for it quickly and efficiently, avoiding extra stress and anxiety.

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