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Navigating Divorce in Minnesota: A Guide For the New Year

by | Dec 8, 2023 | Family Law Topics

The idea that January sees a surge in divorce filings is often referred to as “Divorce Month” or “Divorce Season.” The notion of a higher number of divorces in January seems to be anecdotal and not backed by data.  But it makes sense for lots of reasons.  Some couples may wait until after the holiday season to initiate divorce proceedings that they’ve been considering for some time. This might be for the sake of family traditions, particularly if children are involved. Others may see the start of the new year as a symbolic time for a fresh start.

Whenever the divorce journey begins, embarking on it is never easy. But taking the first steps wisely can make the process smoother and more manageable. If you’re considering filing for divorce in Minnesota after the new year, it’s crucial to approach the situation with careful consideration and a clear plan. Below are some key steps and recommendations to help you prepare to navigate the process:

  1. Understand Minnesota Divorce Laws by Consulting with an Attorney

Familiarize yourself on a very basic level with the divorce laws specific to Minnesota. Understanding a bit about the legal requirements, considerations, and processes can empower you during this challenging time.  However, the law can be extremely complicated and nuanced.  So get a free or low-cost consultation with an experienced family law attorney (or several)!  A skilled attorney can explain your rights and responsibilities in a general sense, give you a basic sense Minnesota divorce laws, and outline some of the many options you have to proceed.  If you plan to be represented by counsel during the process, consulting with attorneys will give you a sense of which one might work best for you.  During your consultations, you can ask about hourly fees, each attorney’s style, particular areas of expertise, etc.  Should you later decide to hire counsel, that will be one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the divorce process.

  1. Gather Financial Documents

Financial matters often play a significant role in divorce proceedings. Start collecting important financial documents such as tax returns, bank statements, mortgage statements, and information about assets and debts. Having a comprehensive overview of your financial situation will be essential during property division negotiations.

  1. Consider Your Children’s Well-Being

If you have children, their well-being should be a top priority. Jot down your thoughts on what custody arrangements, parenting time schedules, etc. would be in the best interests of your children.  And start thinking about why you feel this way and how you would show your reasoning to a person unfamiliar with your family.  In Minnesota, the court will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child, so be prepared to demonstrate your commitment to their welfare.

  1. Explore Mediation or Other Forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution

While some divorces require litigation, many/most can be resolved through mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods. These approaches are often more cost-effective and less adversarial than a courtroom battle. Discuss these options with your attorney and consider whether they may be suitable for your situation.

  1. Establish a Support System

Divorce is emotionally taxing, and having a strong support system can make a significant difference. Lean on friends, family, or seek the assistance of a therapist or support group to help you cope with the emotional challenges that may arise.  Another great option is to visit a grief coach and/or divorce coach regularly throughout the process.

  1. Plan for the Future

As you navigate the divorce process, it’s essential to think about your future. Consider your financial stability, housing arrangements, and personal goals. Developing a plan for life after divorce can provide a sense of direction and purpose.  Financial planners are underutilized by those going through divorce, in my experience.  Remember they can be a huge help as you navigate the financial changes that divorce inevitably requires.

Taking proactive steps like the ones listed here is key to achieving a smoother transition into the next chapter of your life.  For all looking for a fresh start in this upcoming new year, I wish you only the best!   If you are considering divorce or have another family law matter to discuss, please visit www.streitlaw.net or call 651-294-6157 or 651-237-3646 for a free consultation or to retain Angela.