The hearing is over, the evidence has been accepted, and the arguments have been made; now, all that remains is to wait for the judge’s decision. But how long will that take? Is there an upper limit on how long a judge can take to make a decision?
The answer to this question depends on exactly what decision the court was being asked to make, but for most family law actions – including most motions and trials – the court has 90 days from the date that the issue is submitted to file a written order.
The 90 day requirement stems from Minnesota Statute § 546.27, which states:
Subdivision 1. Written decisions required. (a) When an issue of fact has been tried by the court, the decision shall be in writing, the facts found and the conclusion of law shall be separately stated, and judgment shall be entered accordingly. Except as provided in paragraph (b), all questions of fact and law, and all motions and matters submitted to a judge for a decision in trial and appellate matters, shall be disposed of and the decision filed with the court administrator within 90 days after such submission, unless sickness or casualty shall prevent, or the time be extended by written consent of the parties. No part of the salary of any judge shall be paid unless the voucher therefor be accompanied by a certificate of the judge that there has been full compliance with the requirements of this section.
—Minnesota Statute § 546.27
As you can see, not only does the statute require a judge to dispose of and file all decisions within 90 days of the date the issue is submitted, but the statute actually states that the judge’s salary shall be withheld if he or she has any outstanding orders that have gone beyond the 90 days limit.
The 90 day limit only establishes an outer boundary on how long a Court can take in making a decision – most decisions will be made much more quickly than that. The exact amount of time it will take depends on the complexity of the issues and the judge’s work load from other cases.
Things to Keep in Mind
It is important to keep three other ideas in mind when considering this issue. First, some types of decisions need to be made more quickly than 90 days because special rules apply to those decisions; for example, juvenile protection decisions must be made within 15 days of the hearing and child support magistrates must make their decisions within 30 days.
Second, for some decisions, the court may simply decide to “rule from the bench,” which means that the court will tell the parties its decision at the hearing. A judge is more likely to rule from the bench when an issue is relatively simple, or when the judge has decided to deny a motion.
Third, according to the statute, the court has 90 days to make a decision from the date that the issue was submitted to it. Sometimes there are additional submissions that must be made after a trial or hearing; in that case, courts have 90 days from the date that those additional submissions are made to make a decision. For example, it is very common in divorces for the court to ask attorneys to submit written argument and proposed findings to the court after the trial has taken place. If that happens, the court’s 90 day time limit will not begin to run until the written submissions are filed.
If you have questions about your particular case, the attorneys at Clausen & Hassan, LLC are a great resource. We offer free consultations, so call us today at 651-647-0087 or reach out via our online contact form to schedule your appointment at our Minneapolis, St. Paul or Eden Prairie office today.