Litigation is the most commonly recognized Minnesota divorce option. The litigation process begins with a summons and petition for dissolution of marriage that is personally served upon your spouse. Your spouse would be required to provide a written answer to the petition. After the petition for dissolution has been filed with the court, parties attend an initial case management conference (ICMC).
The ICMC hearing is an opportunity for the court, the attorneys and the parties to be in the same room for the first time and collectively identify the issues of the case that need to be addressed. If there are agreements reached on any particular issue, those agreements are reduced to a court order, and an alternative dispute resolution method (ADR) is chosen to help the parties address the remaining unresolved issues of the divorce outside of court. ADR may include mediation or early neutral evaluation (ENE).
The parties will also engage in a discovery process, which involves compiling and disclosing information to both parties regarding marital debts and valuation of marital assets such as bank and retirement accounts, and real property. If agreements are reached through ADR, those agreements are reduced to a proposed order and submitted to the court for signing. If agreements are not reached through ADR, the case is set for trial where a judge will hear testimony, receive evidence and make a decision for the parties via a court order.