Divorce and family court issues get heard by a court in Minnesota. The fact that no jury is involved in a divorce or family court matter is a significant cost saving for all involved. A conference or hearing in front of a judge ensures that each aspect of a family court case, including custody issues, is considered from a legal perspective.
Regardless of whether custody is involved or not, family court and divorce processes can be confusing. You need the best legal representation you can find.
Here is what to expect from your family court hearing, conference, or experience with a judge.
Divorce, Custody, and Family Court Process
Regarding presenting the case for divorce, custody, or payments to a judge, the Minnesota court process is straightforward. Once the paperwork for divorce or custody has been filed, the parties involved will have an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC.) The parties involved in this conference are the filer, respondent, their lawyers, and a judicial officer.
The purpose of the ICMC is to encourage the parties to come to a settlement. Before the ICMC, several financial documents are required to be filled out. At this point, either party can “flag” issues that might be points of contention. The party filing for divorce will also map out their expectations in this paperwork to hopefully clear a path for settlement.
The ICMC Hearing
At the ICMC hearing, the parties’ attorneys will map out their respective positions. Their arguments will touch upon the divorce, settlement, custody, and their party’s rendition of the circumstances of the divorce. An alternative dispute resolution method will also be agreed upon and followed up on by both parties due to the ICMC.
The court may recommend a Social Early Neutral Evaluation to help evaluate and address parenting and custody issues. If there are financial aspects of the divorce in play, the court may recommend Financial Early Neutral Evaluation. In both cases, the evaluation aims to establish facts and work towards a resolution between the parties.
The Court Process
The petitioning party presents their case to a judge, the other side can cross-examine the petitioner’s assertions, including addressing witnesses in front of the judge.
After the cross-examination, the respondent party will have the opportunity to present their side of the matter in family court. The petitioners’ attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses and counter any statements made by the respondent’s side.
Because the judge hears the family court issue before it (divorce, custody, visitation, payments) there is no need for a closing argument from either side. The judge will consider the merits of each side and has 90 days to render a decision. Once the decision is filed, either side has 60 days from the entry of the family court order to file an appeal.
If either party files an appeal, it will take at least one year for the Court of Appeals to consider the case and affirm or reverse the judge’s decision.
Negotiations and Conferences During the Divorce Procedure
At any point in the process, before the final judgment is rendered, the parties may enter into negotiation to discuss coming to an amicable resolution. The alternative dispute resolution recommendation is the first step in that process. Parties involved in a divorce are strongly encouraged to work through financial, custody, and other issues to come to an agreement.
During this time, parties can also negotiate separately, individually, or through their attorneys in formal conferences or informal meetings. Both parties should follow the advice of their attorneys, especially as it pertains to meetings in conferences, separate discussions, or negotiations.
Between 60 to 90 days will pass after the ICMC hearing before the parties reconvene in court.
While a settlement is strongly urged, Minnesota understands that sometimes the differences between the divorcing parties are so significant settlement is not possible.
In that case, the individual presiding over an alternative dispute resolution process will recommend a reasonable settlement, but neither party is compelled to accept the settlement.
If no settlement is reached, the case will proceed to court for a hearing before a judge.
Do Not Go it Alone – Hire a Qualified Attorney
While the process is straightforward, the various aspects of a divorce, financial arrangements, custody issues, and settlement are not always as clear-cut. In addition, there are personal feelings that are always involved, which can obscure the judgment of either party.
If you are going through a divorce or have custody issues in a divorce, you need to have qualified family court legal representation in the form of an expert attorney at your side. Contact CJB Law today to speak with one of our experienced divorce attorneys.