A contested divorce is when the parties do not agree on key issues.

Going through a divorce is never easy, especially when there is disagreement between the parties. Because each case is different, some are resolved sooner than others. However, there are typically four stages in the general process:

Phase 1: Planning

At the initial meeting, our clients receive a comprehensive questionnaire. This questionnaire informs our divorce attorneys of your particular circumstances and gives us the necessary information to proceed with your case. The questionnaire includes information regarding your marriage, finances, children and custody issues, assets, and other important information.

After you have discussed your goals with us, we will typically draft a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. You will review and sign both the Summons and Petition and then your spouse will be officially served with the divorce papers. The documents can then be filed with the court. This phase of the contested divorce process can be done relatively quickly once we have the information from you.

Phase 2: Discovery

The discovery stage is when you and your spouse exchange information through your attorneys. You and your attorney may also appear before a judge to make decisions regarding who can stay on the property, child support payments, and temporary custody decisions.

Experts can be used to help evaluate the value of the property and business assets (example: home appraisal or business valuation). There are also experts who may recommend custody and parenting time arrangements (example: custody/parenting time evaluation).

This is one of the longer phases of the contested divorce process and can take several months. It is important to note that discovery can be formal or informal. This depends on your situation and you should make this decision carefully after consulting with your attorney. Your attorney would be in charge of completing discovery.

Phase 3: Settlement

The “settlement phase” of a contested divorce is when both sides meet and attempt to reach an agreement outside of court. Mediation is a common option in this phase. In mediation, the parties and attorneys meet with a neutral third party to discuss issues and potentially reach an agreement.

If the parties reach an agreement, a stipulated Divorce Decree will be filed with the court explaining the terms of the divorce. Both parties will review and sign the agreement. If the court approves the agreement, the divorce is final.

Another avenue of settlement is the Early Neutral Evaluation process where the neutral evaluates the case and provides his/her recommendation. Yet another avenue of settlement is simply meeting with the other side and his/her counsel at a settlement conference.

Phase 4: Trial

In the event that an agreement is not reached during the settlement phase, your case will be sent back to the Judge for further case management. Ultimately, if there is no settlement, there is a trial.

Our Minnesota divorce attorneys will represent your interests and goals in front of the judge. Trial can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks, depending on the issues involved and the Judge’s calendar. After trial, the judge will reach a decision and a divorce decree will be filed. If you are not satisfied with the judge’s decision, you may choose to file an appeal or file a motion for amended findings before the Judge.

The challenges posed by divorce are best faced with an experienced attorney by your side. A successful contested divorce requires a lawyer who will strive to achieve your goals. At Clausen & Hassan, our lawyers pride themselves on how they serve our clients. Please reach out today for your free consultation—you can call our office at (651) 647-0087 or contact us by email at info@clausen-hassan.com.