How a Divorce Lawyer in Minnetonka Can Be Helpful in Your Case

Those seeking a divorce anywhere in Minnesota, including Minnetonka, may be able to finalize it without hiring a divorce lawyer in Minnetonka.

However, it is recommended to seek representation from an able divorce attorney since the legal process is often convoluted and emotionally-taxing.

An experienced divorce lawyer in Minnetonka can ensure that your rights and interests are protected while providing you with sound legal counsel. If you’re worried about the expenses, know that whether you’re considering Minnetonka divorce lawyer cost or divorce attorney Buffalo cost, it’s going to be worth every penny.

Here are a few ways in which a divorce lawyer in Minnetonka can be helpful in your case.

Minnesota Divorce Statistics

Experts estimate that 50% of US marriages end in divorce. But what is the divorce rate in Minnesota? Here are a few facts you should know:

  • In 2018, Minnesota’s divorce rate was 7.1 per 1,000 women.
  • In 2008, Minnesota’s divorce rate was 9.1 per 1,000 women.
  • Today, an estimated 10% of Minnesota marriages end in divorce.
  • Minnesota’s current divorce rate is lower than the average divorce rate per state, which is 11.42%.

If you’re seeking a divorce in Minnetonka, MN, you clearly aren’t alone. We’re here to lend you a hand in understanding Minnesota divorce laws and how an experienced divorce attorney can help.

What Is Divorce in Minnetonka?

In Minnesota, divorce is also known as dissolution of marriage. As long as you have lived within state lines for six months, you can file for divorce in Minnesota.

Dissolution of marriage is different from separation and annulment.

Couples seek a legal separation when they want to live apart for a time before getting divorced officially. However, legal separation takes care of issues like who will take care of the kids during the separation period.

Annulment essentially wipes away a marriage as if it never existed. If two spouses never consummated the marriage or one partner was under the legal age of consent, a Minnesota will grant an annulment.

Minnesota’s dissolution of marriage law is no-fault. The only thing you need to prove to a court to file for divorce is that you and your partner have experienced an “irretrievable breakdown” of the partnership.

Another implication of Minnesota’s no-fault law is that only one partner has to want a divorce to file. Both parties do not have to agree for a court to grant the dissolution of marriage.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Minnesota?

Divorce isn’t cheap, and getting a dissolution of marriage in Minnesota is no exception. You and your spouse will each have to pay $400 just to file for divorce. Then, you must consider court fees, custody evaluation fees, and more.

You’ll also have to hire a divorce lawyer. Divorce lawyers usually charge by the hour or with a flat fee. The average Minnesota divorce and family lawyer charges $232 per hour, so attorney fees are often the most significant cost when it comes to divorces.

Of course, you have the right to represent yourself during a divorce. However, the court will expect you to know the legal requirements for arguing a case in court. For that reason and the ones we’re talking about next, we don’t recommend representing yourself during your divorce.

When to Hire a Minnetonka Divorce Attorney to Oversee Your Case

As we mentioned, you have the right not to hire a lawyer during your divorce. But there are some cases when self-representation isn’t a good idea.

Your Spouse Lawyered Up

If your spouse has a lawyer, representing yourself means you’ll be going head to head with an expert in legal matters. Even if you do have some knowledge of the law, a good divorce attorney will have years of experience specifically dealing with divorce.

You don’t want to end up arguing against someone who’s way out of your league when it comes to the law. So, hire your own divorce attorney to fight for your rights.

You Have Marital Assets

Do you and your spouse have joint retirement funds? Do you own a home together? If so, these assets are significant enough to make your divorce proceedings more complex.

Plus, if your spouse doesn’t want to compromise with you, you risk losing out on your shared property. Instead of taking the risk, it’s better to contact a Minnetonka divorce lawyer ASAP.

You Have Marital Debts

Just like you don’t want to end up losing ownership of your assets, you don’t want to end up with more than your fair share of marital debt. Marital debt refers to the debts you and/or your spouse incurred during the marriage.

It can be difficult to prove who accumulated what during the marriage. A good divorce attorney can help ensure you pay for your debts and your spouse pays for his or her debt.

You Have Children

Child custody agreements are often the most critical part of a Minnesota divorce. There’s a lot at stake but, if you and your partner can compromise on the terms, you can keep your custody battle out of court.

If you and your partner can compromise on the terms of the custody agreement, you may not need a divorce attorney. But if your child custody battle goes to court, calling a local divorce lawyer is in your and your child’s best interest.

You Are Seeking Alimony in Minnetonka

Does your partner make more money than you? Do you bring in more income than your spouse? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, your divorce will likely also involve an agreement about alimony (also called spousal maintenance in Minnesota).

Whether you have a prenuptial agreement or not, a divorce attorney who also specializes in alimony can help you secure the support you and your children need.

1. They Will Leverage Their Knowledge of Divorce Law

A reputed attorney will have sound working knowledge of your state’s family laws as well as the amendments made to them. Accordingly, they will be well-positioned to help you with your legal proceedings.

Because family law varies from state to state, it is important to hire a local lawyer who is aware of the differences. This knowledge will help them keep your case on track.

An attorney is also proficient with court processes and proceedings and will know exactly how to steer your case to make it as stress-free for you as possible.

2. You Need Not Fear Your Violent Spouse

If your case involves a history of domestic abuse and violence, and you fear that your spouse will abuse you or your children or retaliate towards the divorce filing in any way, you should definitely work with a seasoned divorce lawyer in Minnetonka. Your lawyer will not only protect your best interests but also acts as a buffer zone between you and your violent spouse.

Your divorce attorney can also help by obtaining an order of protection for you and your children, if necessary.

3. They Will Ensure Proper Division of Assets

One of the most critical and complex aspects of a divorce case is the division of property, assets, and estate, and so on. The fact is, different states have different laws for dealing with these matters. In Minnesota, for instance, all marital property is divided equally between both spouses, whereas the non-marital property may not be divided with the spouse.

Accordingly, your divorce lawyer in Minnetonka will ensure that you get the best deal from the divorce. They may also help you take advantage of legal loopholes that might enable you to receive the bigger share of the property/assets if you deserve it. Further, they will help turn the negotiations into binding legal agreements.

4. They Will Help You with Objective Decision-Making

Divorces involve several factors, such as division of assets, child custody, and support, among others. Further, if you’re going through a contested divorce, things can be even more stressful and complex. It may be hard for you to make objective decisions in an emotionally-charged atmosphere. Your divorce lawyer in Minnetonka can be extremely helpful here.

More often than not, emotionally-charged disputes drag on for years, which makes things worse as both spouses continue to develop bitterness towards each other. Amidst all the emotional upheaval, your divorce lawyer in Minnetonka will help maintain the focus on the main points of the divorce. They will enable you and your spouse to decide on matters related to your children and property in a rational and peaceful manner.

5. You Will Understand Your Options Better

More often than not, a divorce is hard on both spouses and this may make it difficult for them to finalize the separation in a civil manner. As a result, the case may go to court, which can be a time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes embarrassing, ordeal.

However, your experienced divorce lawyer in Minnetonka may be able to navigate you through another route to finalize your divorce. This alternate method may allow you and your spouse to skip the exhausting courtroom trials. Instead, you both can negotiate calmly outside the courtroom with the help of your attorney.

6. They Will Act as Mediator

Taking a cue from the above point, many couples tend to harbor negative feelings for each other throughout the divorce proceedings. With the help of a divorce lawyer in Minnetonka, you may be able to find a more harmonious way out, i.e. through mediation. Your lawyer will be able to channel your emotions by acting as a mediator and facilitate peaceful negotiations between you and your spouse.

7. They Will Manage the Complex Paperwork

Like most legal processes, divorce cases involve a lot of documentation. From the marriage certificate to property papers, everything needs to be filed properly and in time. On top of that, there are legal documents to be dealt with. It is easy for an inexperienced person to get lost in this maze of paperwork.

Your divorce lawyer in Minnetonka will help by taking care of all the legal documentation, and interpreting jargon, when necessary. You will be able to understand the process better and, therefore, go through your divorce proceedings with ease.


Enduring the divorce process without the help of a skilled lawyer can be challenging. Your divorce lawyer in Minnetonka will be able to provide you with not just timely legal help, but also a strong shoulder to lean on. They will know the divorce laws applicable to your case, as well as your entitlements. Depending on your case facts, they will put up a formidable fight to protect your interests and win you a positive outcome. By hiring a reliable divorce lawyer in Minnetonka, you can ensure that your side of the story is heard by the law, and your rights are strongly protected.

Consult Our Accomplished Divorce Lawyer in Minnetonka

The team of divorce lawyers at Carlson & Jones, P.A. are experienced in representing clients in legal separations. Whether it is a contested or an uncontested divorce, or even an annulment, we can help. Leveraging our expertise will enable you to receive fair settlements and support. Call us at (855) 976-2444 or contact us through our online form to schedule a free consultation.

Original article published on February 22, 2021 and updated on November 18, 2021 .

A Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Talks About Family Law Mediation

In many family law cases, the parties agree on broad, general issues. Parenting time disputes are a good illustration. Most parents agree that these orders should be in the best interests of the children. But most parents disagree as to what constitutes “best interests” in a given situation.

Quite often, a good family law mediator can bridge the gap between an agreement in principle and a specific, enforceable agreed order. In fact, assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation may succeed in as many as 90 percent of cases.

In a nutshell, “good faith” means that both parties are willing to make reasonable concessions to get a deal done. Good faith also means that, especially in property division and other financial matters, both parties place all their cards on the table.

Because of the success rate, and the other benefits of mediation outlined below, Hutchinson, MN lawyers often use mediation to resolve even high-conflict divorce and family law matters.

What Exactly Is a Mediator in Hutchinson, MN?

As mentioned, not all divorces must go to court. Sometimes, when two spouses can work together and compromise, they can go through mediation instead.

In fact, Minnesota typically requires divorcing couples to go through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before taking a divorce to court. Mediation is one of the types of ADR.

Mediators can be attorneys. Or they can be other types of mediation professionals. Whatever type of mediator you hire, he or she will have one goal: to get you and your spouse to compromise on the terms of the divorce.

One of the key benefits of mediation is that the spouses get full control of the divorce agreement. This is often favorable because most divorcing couples don’t want to give up control over their assets, debts, and children to a judge.

What Do Mediators Do?

As we mentioned, mediators help spouses draft the terms of their divorce. For example, a mediator might help you and your spouse determine one or more of the following divorce terms:

    • Alimony: also known as spousal maintenance in Minnesota), the lesser-earning spouse can earn alimony from the greater-earning spouse in some circumstances.
    • Child Support: one spouse may have to agree to pay child support depending on the number of children produced from the marriage and the income of each divorcing spouse.
  • Child Custody: during divorce, parents must decide who will have primary custody of any children produced from the marriage or whether both parents will share custody.
  • Asset Division: Minnesota is an equitable division state, meaning you and your spouse must divide all marital assets equitably.
  • Debt Division: With the exception of non-marital debts, Minnesota divorce laws also mandate that divorcing spouses equitably divide their liabilities after separation.


Divorcing spouses typically set up mediation sessions once every two weeks. Each session lasts an average of 2–3 hours. The majority of spouses come to an agreement and reach a settlement after 2–3 sessions of mediation.

Mediators vs. Regular Divorce Attorneys

Many mediators are lawyers. However, it’s important to understand that some mediators are not educated in legal processes. The state of Minnesota doesn’t regulate the mediator profession, meaning anyone can technically market their services as mediation.

At the same time, not all divorce attorneys also specialize in mediation. Divorce attorneys are experts in the law. Legal expertise can help in mediation, but the more significant factor is how well the divorce attorney can help you and your spouse come to mutually agreeable terms.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of mediation.

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

The cost for mediation varies by region. In general, though, you can expect to pay your mediator by the hour. Some mediators will charge more than a divorce attorney; other mediators will charge a similar per-hour rate as a divorce attorney.

The average family attorney charges $232 per hour in Minnesota. So, you can expect to pay more, but probably not less, for mediation services in Hutchinson, MN.

When Should a Minnesota Mediator Intervene?

In some cases, early mediation is the best way to solve problems and bring the matter to a speedy conclusion. In other situations, however, it is better to wait until the litigation process is at least partially complete.

Pre-filing mediation, the earliest time a mediator may intervene, is often successful in parenting plan modification disputes. Many times, these disputes center around the residential parent’s relocation. If the non-residential parent wants to block the move out of spite, early mediation may be a waste of time. But if the non-residential parent has some legitimate concerns about the loss of parenting time, pre-filing mediation often works.

Assume Mother gets a teaching offer from the University of Wisconsin, and she wants to move to Madison with the children. Madison is not on the other side of the world, but it is far enough away to end weekly visitation. If Father objects, a mediator might convince Mother to offer some concessions, like a longer summer visitation period, to offset the loss.

If pre-filing mediation is successful, the parties can present an agreed order to a McLeod County judge. Since most judges approve agreed orders without a hearing, the process moves much more quickly.

Sometimes, a family law case, especially a divorce, is a complete surprise. Additionally, since no case has ever been filed, a court does not yet have jurisdiction over the parties. Therefore, pre-filing mediation is probably not an option. However, early mediation may still be a good alternative for most Hutchinson, MN lawyers.

Early mediation, perhaps shortly after the judge issues temporary orders, is often effective in these cases. Early mediation maximizes the benefits of mediation. That’s assuming there are no major issues to resolve.

In other situations, the litigation process may need to go further. As mentioned, in financial matters, some spouses try to conceal their assets. Before mediation is effective, the discovery process must go forward in these cases. Quite often, a McLeod County judge must rule on a motion to compel discovery or a similar subject.

When Is Divorce Mediation Not an Option in Hutchison, MN?

Almost all divorcing spouses can work with a mediator. However, here are some cases where mediation may not be ideal in Hutchinson, MN:

  • You and your partner have a history of domestic violence
  • You and your partner aren’t willing to compromise on the terms of the divorce

In all other cases, mediation should always be your first option. Even if you have significant assets on the line, children, or are seeking alimony, mediation can work for you.

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and Mediation Procedure

Emotional courtroom showdowns make great theater in movies and TV shows. But for Minnesota families with children, such emotional shootouts are usually not a good idea. After a divorce, the parties must be good co-parents. The more hard feelings there are, the more difficult co-parenting becomes.

So, family law mediation is extremely low key. These sessions usually occur in office suites instead of courthouses. Moreover, the parties spend most of their time in separate rooms.

After the Hutchinson, MN lawyers give brief opening statements, the family law mediator usually conducts shuttle diplomacy. The mediator conveys settlement offers and counter-offers back and forth until an agreement is reached. Typically, family law mediation sessions last a full day. Sometimes, they last a half day.

Accommodations are available. For example, if there are verified allegations of domestic abuse, a more secure environment makes everyone more relaxed.

Some Mediation Benefits in McLeod County

Still not convinced that mediation is right for your divorce? Then check out the following benefits of choosing mediation.

Mediation Will Save You Money on Legal Fees

A dissolution of marriage isn’t cheap in Minnesota. Each divorcing spouse must pay $400 just to file the petition for dissolution of marriage. That’s not even to mention filing fees for additional motions and, most expensive of all, court attorney fees.

Reduced cost is probably the most frequently-cited mediation benefit. Hutchinson, MN lawyers may spend several weeks getting ready for trial, but only several hours getting ready for mediation. Additionally, mediation ends the case early, and time is money.

Mediators Can Help Salvage the Relationship

As mentioned, civility is important as well. If the parties are to be good co-parents, there needs to be a solid foundation. Many times, mediation provides that foundation. The parties often believe that, if they solved their problems without going to court once, they can do so again.

Mediated Divorces Allow More Spousal Control

On a related note, mediation increases control over the outcome. A detached McLeod County judge does not dictate orders from the bench. Rather, the parties essentially draft their own orders. This arrangement often increases voluntary compliance, which is good news for everyone.

Mediation Takes Less Time

The average mediated divorce takes about 6–8 hours. You and your spouse can choose to divide up these hours across multiple mediation sessions. Compare this timeline to a divorce that goes to trial, which can take anywhere from six months to more than two years.

The more complicated your divorce gets, the more time you’ll spend in court. This is why it’s always a good idea to try mediation first. Even if it doesn’t work for you and your spouse, you will have saved yourself countless hours on the issues you can compromise on.

Contact a Dedicated Family Mediation Attorney in Minnesota

Mediation is the best option for anyone going through a divorce. It’s significantly less expensive, less time-consuming, and more civil than a court divorce. Plus, you and your spouse will have far more control over the terms of your dissolution of marriage.

If done properly, family law mediation usually works. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.


Original article published on November 12, 2019 and updated on November 11, 2021 .

Where Can I Find the Best Brainerd Divorce Lawyers?

Among most age groups, marriage dissolution rates have declined sharply since 1990. The one prominent exception is divorce among people over 50, or so-called “grey divorce.” These rates have skyrocketed since 2000.

Still, a significant number of marriages end in divorce. There is a lot at stake in these proceedings, so it’s very important to find the best Brainerd divorce lawyers.

What are the qualities you should look for in the best divorce attorney? And what’s at stake if you choose the wrong lawyer? We’re answering these questions and more in this article, so keep reading.

Temperament Is Important in Divorce Proceedings

Aggressive representation is very important in marriage dissolution matters. As outlined below, there are a wide range of complex issues. Assertive representation is the best way, and perhaps the only way, to preserve your legal and financial rights.

But there is a difference between aggressive representation and blind obstructionism. Unfortunately for their clients, many Brainerd divorce lawyers adopt the latter stance. They reason that the client wants bulldog representation in this legal matter. So, they contest every inch of legal ground.

On the surface, that may seem like a good idea. But, in fact, it is often counterproductive. One factor in child custody and visitation is the ability to co-parent. The former spouses do not need to be friends, but they need to be able to work together. If a parent is obstinate, the Crow Wing County judge may conclude that the person would not be a good co-parent. It is almost impossible for these individuals to win a custody fight.

The right disposition is only part of the equation. The best Brainerd divorce lawyer must also be highly familiar with all the issues involved.

Hire Brainerd Divorce Lawyers With Experience and Expertise

Not just any attorney will do when it comes to fighting for your rights during divorce. Instead, you need a Brainerd family lawyer who has experience with divorce cases and can guide you through the process of how to get a divorce.

Not only that, but you’ll also want to focus on professionals who have specific expertise with the type of divorce you’re going through. After all, you don’t want to hire a divorce mediator specializing in compromise when you have a court custody battle coming up.

How do you ensure you’re hiring an expert? Here are our three top tips for finding the best Brainerd divorce lawyer the first time, every time.

Before you ever hire a divorce attorney in Brainerd, you should ask for references. An attorney should be able to refer you to former clients whose case he or she won. Any divorce lawyer who can’t or won’t provide references isn’t worth your time.

It’s also important to look up your attorney’s credentials. You can access online information about your divorce lawyer’s continuing education, which is a good sign you’re dealing with a highly educated and experienced professional.

Finally, it never hurts to check your attorney’s online reviews. Browse the reviews on your lawyer’s website and also take the time to browse reviews on Yelp and Google. Of course, one bad review shouldn’t send you running, but an overall trend of former client dissatisfaction should be a red flag.

The Best Divorce Attorneys Communicate Well

You know the saying, “communication is key”? The person who came up with that adage must have been talking about lawyers. Because, when it comes to finding the best divorce attorney in Minnesota, you’ve got to ensure he or she is highly communicative.

There may be a lot on the line during your divorce. If you and your attorney can’t clearly and easily communicate, you may feel alone.

Any good lawyer should make you feel comfortable bringing up questions and concerns. He or she should explain complicated laws or arguments in a way that’s simple for you to understand.

Most importantly, your attorney should never communicate unrealistic expectations about your case. In Minnesota, it’s illegal for attorneys to make promises about results, and doing so could be a reason for disbarment.

What’s At Stake in a Brainerd Divorce Proceeding?

Divorce is also known as dissolution of marriage in Minnesota. Marriage dissolution can be contested or uncontested.

In an uncontested divorce, the spouses can sit down together and compromise about the terms of the dissolution. However, when a couple can’t agree on the divorce terms, the case will go to trial.

Contested divorces typically go to trial. This type of divorce requires lengthy court battles that can be highly expensive.

So, the biggest thing at stake during divorce proceedings is money. You’ll have to pay at least $375 to file for divorce in Crow Wing County and, on top of that, your divorce lawyer’s retainer. The longer the divorce proceedings go on, the higher the cost.

Further, the terms of your divorce will determine your share of debts and assets. These terms decide child custody issues, such as where your kids will live, go to school, and spend holidays. And divorce terms also spell out who pays child support or alimony payments (i.e., spousal support) and how much.

Luckily, a Brainerd divorce attorney can help you get the most favorable outcome in court. Here are some of the top strategies the best divorce lawyers in Minnesota use to fight for their clients’ rights.

Property Division in a Brainerd Divorce

The Gopher State is an equitable distribution jurisdiction. The judge must equitably divide marital property. That’s not necessarily the same thing as equally dividing property.

Division is a two-step process. First, the judge must classify property as either marital or non-marital. The general rule is that property acquired before the marriage or by gift is non-marital property and everything else is subject to joint division. But there are some complexities, and commingled property is a good example.

Especially during lengthy marriages, commingling is quite common. For example, Husband may use funds from his paycheck (marital property) to fix up a classic car he owned before the marriage (non-marital property). At a minimum, Wife is probably entitled to reimbursement for her portion of these marital funds. In some cases, especially if the car was just a jumble of parts when the couple exchanged vows, the non-marital property may have transmuted into marital property.

Second, there is the division itself. Some common factors in this distribution include:

  • A party’s prior marriage,
  • The length of this marriage,
  • Any agreements between the parties,
  • Relative age, health, and educational status of the parties,
  • Current and future income potential,
  • The economic needs of each party, and
  • Custody of minor children.

For the most part, the judge weighs all these factors equally. One is not more important than the other. Spousal agreements may be the exception. Most Brainerd judges enforce most property agreements as long as they are reasonably fair and entirely voluntary.

Debt Division in Brainerd Divorce Proceedings

In Minnesota divorces, courts typically divide liabilities based on who accumulated the debt. That means each spouse pays his or her own non-marital debts. Things get trickier, though, when considering marital debts.

For example, you may be responsible for your spouse’s debt in the following cases:

  • One spouse uses his or her credit card to purchase household groceries or supplies for the whole family
  • One spouse has a history of using his or her partner’s credit card, which has accumulated debt
  • You and your spouse agreed to share the debt in a prenuptial agreement

Additionally, consider the case where one spouse acquired a debt that solely benefitted the other partner. For example, consider the case of a husband acquiring debt after paying for his wife’s non-necessary medical expenses. In this case, a Minnesota court would most likely order the wife to pay the debt since it solely benefitted her.

Child Custody Issues in Brainerd

Assuming there has been no domestic violence, there is a rebuttable presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the children. Joint custody probably will not involve a 50-50 division. Instead, one Minnesota parent has primary custody and the other one has liberal visitation rights. The best Brainerd Divorce Lawyer can give you excellent advice in this area.

Much like property division, there is a list of factors for the Crow Wing County judge to consider. Some prominent ones include:

  • Parental preference (agreements between the parties),
  • Preservation of the status quo,
  • Parent-child relationship,
  • Each parent’s commitment to co-parenting, and
  • Physical and mental health of each family member.

Preservation of the status quo is perhaps the most important factor. The old saying that “possession is nine-tenths of the law” definitely applies in Brainerd divorce cases.

The Best Brainerd Divorce Lawyer for Domestic Support Obligations

In most cases, DSOs involve both child support and spousal support. In terms of child support, Minnesota is an income shares state, as are most other jurisdictions. The child support formula considers the income of both parents and then assigns a proportional obligation to the noncustodial parent. The guidelines are applicable in all but a few cases.

Spousal support works much differently. First, it is not applicable in all Brainerd divorce cases. The judge must make affirmative findings that one spouse has an economic need. Second, the amount and duration of payments is very subjective. Some factors to consider include:

  • Oblige spouse’s economic need,
  • The obligor spouse’s ability to pay,
  • Standard of living during the marriage,
  • Length of the marriage,
  • Noneconomic contributions to the relationship, and
  • The age, health, and earning potential of each party.

Like child custody provisions, domestic support obligations can usually be modified based on changed circumstances. The obligee’s remarriage terminates the obligation altogether, but “remarriage” is not always easy to define in this context.

Call Today To Speak With a Brainerd Divorce Lawyer at Carlson & Jones

The best divorce attorneys are aggressive, experienced, and communicative. They have the expertise to defend your rights, whether you’re fighting for property, child custody, or spousal support.

Are you searching for a divorce attorney in Crow Wing County, Minnesota? The best Brainerd Divorce Lawyers have considerable skills and always have your best interests at heart. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Brainerd, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A.

Originally published on May 19, 2018 and updated on October 28, 2021.

How Minnesota Divorce Lawyers Deal With the 2019 Alimony Change

Statistically, it is very difficult for divorced women to rebuild wealth. Therefore, spousal maintenance is an important part of most Minnesota divorces. Beginning on January 1, 2019, alimony will be a lot different.

One change went into effect in August 2016. The new alimony reform law actually affected spousal support modifications, which means that the law is just now coming into play. The Cohabitation Alimony Reform Bill makes it easier to modify alimony based on future cohabitation. There was a concern among many Minnesota Divorce Lawyers that ex-spouses lived with their partners but did not get married so as to not affect their alimony.

The new law does not outlaw this practice, but it does give obligor spouses a fighting chance. Instead of simply looking at the exchange of vows, judges may consider several factors, such as the length of cohabitation and the economic benefit which the ex-spouse receives from this arrangement.

The other big change was part of the December 2017 tax reform package. Currently, alimony payments are tax-deductible and alimony receipts are taxable income. Effective January 1, 2019, both these things go away. The obligor can no longer deduct alimony payments, and the obligee does not have to report the payments to the IRS or MDR.

For tax purposes, spousal support payment will be like child support payments. Neither payments nor receipts have any tax consequences. If alimony reformers had their way, the entire system would change along these lines. Many people decry the subjective nature of alimony in places like Minnesota. In the summer of 2017, there were rumblings that the Legislature would soon consider a comprehensive alimony reform bill. But so far, nothing has materialized.

Do You Qualify for Alimony in MN?

In Minnesota, alimony is also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support. Spousal support can either be court-ordered or drawn up by a divorce lawyer. But what exactly is alimony?

The concept of alimony came about because the majority of families used to live off of one salary while the other spouse tended to house duties. After divorce, the unemployed spouse would have trouble making ends meet. So, alimony was designed to help provide support until the unemployed spouse found work or got remarried.

Times have changed, but alimony is still a big part of divorce proceedings. Now, the higher-earning spouse must make monthly payments to the lesser-earning spouse. 

Of course, the law is completely genderless. That means the lower-earning spouse can get alimony regardless of their sex.

Today, there are two major requirements for spousal maintenance. The first is that the lower-earning spouse lacks the assets he or she needs to maintain the marital standard of living post-divorce. 

A court might also award alimony if the lower-earning spouse can’t support himself or herself. This also applies when one spouse is the custodial parent and, due to the child’s circumstances, must remain unemployed.

In most Minnesota divorce agreements, the alimony amount depends on how long the marriage lasts. The shorter the marriage, the less spousal support, and vice versa.


Spousal Support Termination

Spousal support isn’t always for a lifetime. As we mentioned above, moving in with an adult partner can be grounds for alimony termination. 

To prove the cohabitation is worthy of canceling spousal support, the court must evaluate various factors, including whether there are grounds to think the partners would marry if not for the alimony payments and the impact on the lesser-earning spouse if alimony payments ended.

But that’s not the only way you can lose your spousal maintenance payments.

Even before the new alimony laws, if the lower-earning spouse remarried, that was grounds for termination. Of course, Minnesota also allows spousal maintenance to be terminated if either spouse dies.


Can a Minnesota Divorce Attorney Set Up an Alimony Agreement?

Yes! You don’t need a judge to create an alimony agreement, only to enforce one. If you and your spouse can agree on the terms, a divorce lawyer in Minnesota can draw up the agreement, present it to your divorce court judge, and get a court order to enforce it.

Usually, this type of alimony agreement gets drafted as part of the divorce decree. But if you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement, you may still be able to compromise outside of court.

Many couples bring their alimony disputes to a mediator or Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE). Here, an expert in mediation will help you and your spouse come to a compromise. If you still can’t agree on spousal support at this point, the case will go to court, and a judge will determine spousal support at his or her own discretion.

Prenuptial Agreements and Alimony in Minnesota

The best divorce attorney can also help you and your spouse draft a prenuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement. Engaged couples often ask their attorneys to include alimony agreements in prenups. 

As long as an attorney drafts the premarital agreement and you and your spouse agree on the terms of alimony, this agreement is enforceable in a Minnesota court. It would have precedence over any other alimony agreement made by you or a judge.

In your prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse can specify who will receive alimony. It should also detail the amount and type of alimony the receiving spouse is eligible for. We’ll talk more about the types of alimony you can get in Minnesota next.


What Types of Alimony Can Minnesota Divorce Lawyers Set Up?

As it stands, Minnesota law contains three different kinds of alimony. A Minnesota judge may order any, all, or none of these types.

  • Temporary Maintenance: While the case is pending, many spouses have immediate and unexpected financial needs. These needs include things like attorneys’ fees, property deposits, and household maintenance expenses such as rent and utilities. Temporary maintenance gives spouses the money they need to meet these expenses. Income is basically the only factor. Courts rarely look at the broader picture.
  • Short-Term Maintenance: These payments are appropriate if a spouse needs some additional help after the divorce to become self-sufficient. That could be money to finish a college degree or an additional income stream because the spouse must accept a lower-paying entry level job. Other ex-spouses need money while they wait for a house to sell.
  • Long-Term Maintenance: Reformers hate this third type of alimony. It is subjective and also clearly designed to redistribute income. Although the rule is not set in stone, most Wright County judges do not award long-term alimony unless the spouse can never become self-sufficient, perhaps due to a disability, or the marriage lasted longer than ten years.

Minnesota Divorce Lawyers may usually modify the alimony terms based on changed circumstances. As discussed above, the 2016 alimony reform bill made these motions easier to prove in some situations.

Factors in Determining Amount of Payments

The above categories roughly coincide with the duration of alimony payments. For example, temporary maintenance automatically ends when the judge signs the decree. As for the amount of payments, the judge basically weighs the obligee spouse’s economic need against the obligor spouse’s ability to pay. Some specific factors include:

  • Each Spouse’s Economic Means: In addition to employment and other income streams, the judge may normally take the property settlement into consideration. That includes any award of separate property.
  • Educational Need: Obligor spouses do not need to help pay for self-improvement classes. But they do have a legal obligation to help pay for courses related to economic self-sufficiency. That status is in everyone’s best interest.
  • Standard of Living During the Marriage: This factor looms large in long-term maintenance awards. According to the law, the divorce should not be an unfair financial burden for either spouse. Some financial pain is inevitable. But, it should be evenly spread between the parties to the greatest extent possible.

Fault in the breakup of the marriage is not relevant with regard to alimony. But Minnesota Divorce Lawyers may be able to introduce such evidence in the property division phase, through a back door called the dissipation (waste) rule. If Wife spent $10,000 on a gift for a boyfriend, Husband may be entitled to reimbursement for the community share.

Can Minnesota Divorce Attorneys Modify Your Alimony Agreement?

When the alimony is initially awarded, you and your spouse can request a no modification agreement. This is what’s known as a Karon Waiver. This waiver is named after a 1989 case where a former spouse sought an increase in alimony after agreeing to waive her right to modification during the divorce proceedings.

Karon Waivers specify that either one or both spouses will forfeit the right to request an alimony modification down the road. But barring one of these agreements, the best Minnesota divorce lawyer could ask for an alimony modification in certain situations.

The most common reason for a request to modify alimony is if the receiving spouse experiences a change of circumstances. For example, say the receiving spouse’s income decreases or, alternatively, his or her expenses increase. In this case, the receiving spouse could request a modification to increase alimony payments. 

The paying spouse can also request an alimony modification. As we’ve mentioned, this usually only occurs if the receiving spouse remarries or passes away. Under Minnesota’s new alimony mandates, the paying spouse’s divorce attorney might seek to decrease or eliminate spousal support due to cohabitation.

Learn from a MN Divorce Lawyer How Changes in Alimony Law Might Benefit You

Parts of the alimony law are changing, but other parts are still the same. For a free consultation with experienced Minnesota Divorce Lawyers, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Original article published June 16, 2018 and updated September 23, 2021.

Are Divorce Records Public in Brainerd, Minnesota?

Like most other court records, divorce decrees are also a public record. Anyone can access the information related to your divorce for free or by paying a small fee. However, you can request the court to seal a part or all of your divorce decree in Brainerd and all of Minnesota

Once your divorce is finalized, all the paperwork related to your proceedings will be condensed into a divorce record. It comprises the important details of your case, including divorce settlement, alimony, and custody arrangements, among other things. At this point, like most people, you are less likely to think about what happens to your divorce record.

An experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN, will make it a point to keep our clients and prospects well-informed. If you are getting a divorce, here’s what you need to know about divorce records.

1. The Minnesota Divorce Rate

More than 267,000 people in Minnesota are divorced.

While the marriage rate in Minnesota is slightly higher than the national average, the opposite is true of divorce. In Minnesota, there are 7.1 divorces per 1000 people. That’s compared to the national average of 7.7 divorces per 1000 people.

According to Minnesota divorce lawyers, the state’s rate of divorce has increased since the coronavirus pandemic. By some estimates, divorce filings have gone up by at least 30%.

Yet, overall, the Minnesota divorce rate is on the decline. Divorces have decreased from 2008’s rate of 9.1 per 1000 people. At the same time, the national divorce rate has actually increased since 2008.

The Minnesota cities with the highest divorce rates include:

  • Brainerd
  • Virginia
  • Zimmerman
  • Fairmont
  • Stewartville
  • Hutchison
  • Isanti
  • Cloquet
  • Sauk Rapids
  • International Falls

Brainerd, MN has the second-highest divorce rate in Minnesota, second only to Virginia, MN. With a population of just over 13,00 people, Brainerd’s divorce rate was 14% in 2020. Approximately 1497 people are divorced in Brainerd. 

What’s Information Is in a Divorce Record?

In Minnesota, a divorce record is also known as a divorce decree. First and foremost, a Brainerd divorce record or decree serves as proof of a dissolution of marriage. Dissolution of marriage is the legal term for divorce in Minnesota. 

The divorce record will also contain all the conditions of marriage dissolution. These will be the conditions decided during uncontested divorce, mediation, or court proceedings. Conditions may include specifics about property and debt division, child support, alimony, and custody agreements.

Sometimes, a divorce record may also contain protective order records. In Minnesota, Orders for Protection (OFPs) typically come about due to domestic violence.

Are Divorce Records Public in Brainerd, MN?

Not just in Brainerd, MN, in many jurisdictions around the world, most court proceedings are public records. So, your divorce record or decree is also a public record. In fact, if you file it, your separation agreement also becomes a public record.

This is part of the Minnesota Data Practices Act. This law ensures that the Minnesota public has the right to access and analyze public records. The law also states that the public has the right to have public records explained to them if the data isn’t easily understandable.

Even before the Data Practices Act, the First Amendment granted public access to records. This is because the First Amendment grants the US public a “right of access” to any record created in court.

In other words, anyone can access your divorce record if they know where and how to find it. The purpose of making most court proceedings a public record is to allow the tax-paying citizens to scrutinize, examine, and copy them, regardless of the purpose. You usually have to pay a small fee to access the court records.

Who Would Want to Access a Brainerd Divorce Record?

Courts often request divorce records during legal proceedings. For example, a Brainerd court might want to see a divorce record if one of the divorced persons is:

  • Getting remarried
  • Making a property dispute
  • Filing for a green card
  • Disputing spousal and/or child support
  • Determining how property distribution in his or her will

Individuals may also want to access divorce records. For example, say you’re dating someone new and want to know about their marriage history. You can look up their divorce records online, in-person, or with the help of a Brainerd divorce lawyer.

Can You Seal Divorce Records in Brainerd, MN?

As you may already know, in almost all cases, the courts will not seal the divorce records automatically. However, with the help of an experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN, you can apply and convince the court to seal your records. One or both parties have the right to ask the court to seal the records.

Upon your request, the court may seal only a part or your entire divorce record. The final decision usually rests with the judge. The court will, in most cases, consider if making the record public could be harmful or not. If the answer is yes, the court will seal the record.

In Minnesota, requesting a judge to seal part of your divorce record is a “narrowly tailored” request. Making a narrow request is usually more successful than asking to seal the entire divorce record.

Reasons Divorce Records Can Be Sealed in Brainerd, MN?

The court will decide to seal portions or your complete record depending on the circumstances of your case. However, the usual reasons for placing divorce records under seal include the following:

  • If the circumstances of your divorce require to protect the identity of children from the public, the court will seal this portion of your divorce records
  • Sometimes, the court may also seal the records to protect the identity of domestic abuse and child abuse victims
  • In many cases, the court will also seal sensitive information such as bank account numbers and social security numbers, among other things  
  • If one or both parties own a business, the court may seal any sensitive information related to the business

Usually, judges are reluctant to seal the entire divorce records. It is often a better strategy to ask the court to redact a portion of your divorce decree. However, there is no guarantee that the court will make the decision in your favor. You can, of course, consult an experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN to help you get the best possible outcome.

Where to Find Divorce Records in MN

As mentioned, anyone who knows where to look can find divorce records. In most states, including Minnesota, you can try one of the following options to find the divorce decrees.

However, keep in mind that if the divorce record is sealed, neither you nor a lawyer can access it. 

Your State’s Vital Records Website

If you are comfortable with finding court records online, you can start with a general search on your state’s vital records website. However, not all states will record marriages and /or divorces on the vital records site.

The Minnesota Office of Vital Records does not record marriages or divorces. Instead, the website will guide you to search for the county district court office that granted the divorce. You will need to know the name of the person and the county court where the divorce was granted. If you know the date, the search will be a lot easier.

You can order the copy of records online or you can visit the county court house, write an application, and collect the copies yourself. Make sure to check the website to see the detailed procedure. For example, some counties may not allow walk-in record access requests. In this case, you may have to send the application well in advance.

Third-Party Website Access to Public Records

Some third-party websites allow you to access public records for a small fee. These search engines not only enable searches in Minnesota. You can also find public records from other states.

Whether these sites can grant you access to Brainerd, MN divorce records depends on availability. To find a record, you’ll need to provide the name of the person and the location of the record. These search engines usually allow you to input a location as general as a state to specific city searches.


Divorce Attorney in Brainerd, MN

Another option is to contact an experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN. Lawyers know the court systems well-enough to find the desired divorce records as quickly as possible. Remember, divorce records are important as they can tell you about a person’s actual marital status.

An attorney can also assist you in understanding a divorce record after you access it. Remember: the state of Minnesota grants you the right to have any public record explained to you if you don’t understand it.

How to Find the Best Divorce Attorneys in Brainerd, MN

If you want access to someone else’s divorce records, experienced Brainerd divorce lawyers can help. An attorney can also help you understand divorce records. But how do you choose the right lawyer?

The best way to ensure your divorce attorney is up to the job is to look for experience. Of course, your chosen lawyer should meet Minnesota’s minimum standards for legal professionals. He or she should be licensed and, furthermore, licensed in the area where he or she practices.

Secondly, you want to make sure your chosen divorce lawyer has experience locating divorce records. During your initial consultation, ask if the attorney to share similar cases he or she has worked on.

Finally, always check an attoney’s online reviews. Check out what others have to say about being a client because this can give you a lot of information about what outcomes to expect from your Brainerd divorce attorney.

Talk to a Seasoned Divorce Lawyer in Brainerd, MN

Whether you want to get your divorce records sealed or find the divorce records of someone you know, hiring an experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN is the right way to do it. Family lawyers with proven track record, like Carlson & Jones, P.A. can provide you with the right legal advice. Call us today on (855) 976-2444 for a free consultation or contact us online to see how we can help.


What Percentage of Marriages End in Divorce in Minnesota?

Although ending a relationship is never easy, nearly half the marriages (40% to 50%) in the United States are said to end up in divorce. So what percentage of marriages end in divorce in Minnesota? In Minnesota, the marriage rate in 2018 was 16.9 per 1,000 women, which decreased from 18.0 in 2008, and the divorce rate was 7.1 per 1,000 women, down from 9.1 in 2008.

Recent data shows that the rate of both marriage and divorce is going down slowly, especially among millennials. It is a significant decrease from 2008 when the marriage rate was 17.9 and the divorce rate was 10.5. According to the latest data by the U.S. Census Bureau, the marriage rate in 2018 was 16.6 per every 1,000 females, 15 years old and over, while the divorce rate was 7.7 per 1,000 females for same age group nationally.

Why Is the Divorce Rate So High?

The number of reasons and their rankings vary from study to study. However, financial stress, lack of commitment, intimacy, compatibility, and getting married at an early age are a few of the common reasons for divorce in the US.

Extramarital affair or infidelity is also a quite common reason for divorce. As it destroys trust in your relationship, infidelity is most likely to end a marriage. The lack of education is also a common reason for divorce as educated people are less likely to get divorced. Pregnancy before marriage can increase the chances of divorce as well. What percentage of marriages end in divorce in Minnesota are usually attributed to one of these many reasons.

How to Handle Your Divorce?

Whatever the reason maybe, handling a divorce is not easy. As one of the leading Minnesota divorce lawyers, we have seen that most people find it difficult to cope with the separation, especially when children are involved. You need to accept the fact that your emotional and mental well-being will be less than optimal for a while.

However, you also need to take proactive steps to make sure it lessens over time and your life, both personal and professional, get back on track as soon as possible. Exploring your interests and hobbies during these uncertain times can help you focus on the good things your life. Staying positive is important as it can help you take care of yourself and your family.

One of the best ways to lower the emotional impact of a divorce is to share your feelings with family and friends. You can also seek professional help to get through these difficult times. Sometimes, your lawyer can also refer you to a good counsellor, who can help you cope with the stress of a divorce.

How Can an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota Help?

Knowing what percentage of marriages end in divorce in Minnesota doesn’t tell you how many ended contentiously. Talking to and hiring an experienced divorce lawyer in Minnesota is essential to get a divorce quickly and with minimal mental pressure. If you have a skilled and empathetic attorney on your side, you will not have to worry about the day-to-day legal work.

Your lawyer will make sure to file the necessary paperwork on time, talk to the concerned people, including your spouse and their legal counsel, and provide you with the right legal advice when needed. Your attorney also acts like a buffer between you and your soon-to-be ex, ensuring a more practical approach to settlement discussions.

Even if you are going through an amicable divorce, it is better to have an experienced divorce lawyer in Minnesota on your side. Your lawyer will make sure that your spouse or their attorney isn’t taking advantage of you, especially when it comes to division of assents, debts, property, child custody, and alimony. You have legal rights as a spouse and parent, and your lawyer makes sure to enforce them.

How Quickly Can I Get Divorced?

Most uncontested divorces can be completed within a few months. However, depending on how complicated your marital situation is, it can take longer to get a divorce. For example, when children are involved, things like custody battles, child support, and visitation right disputes can delay the proceedings as one of the parties is likely to disagree with the proposed settlement.    

Drawing up paperwork for the division of your assets, property, and debts can also take longer depending on the size of your finances. The best way to speed up your divorce is to settle amicably and avoid a trial. However, you shouldn’t do this without the help of a skilled and experienced divorce lawyer in Minnesota.

Be Prepared When You File for Divorce in Minnesota

While it is said that nearly half the marriages in the US end up divorce, the latest data shows that both number of marriages and divorces are going down. If you are planning to get a divorce, however, you need to be prepared. Hiring a competent and knowledgeable divorce attorney should be your first step while making sure you and your family can handle the financial, physical, and mental stress, that comes with a divorce.   

Hire the Most Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota Today!

If you’re wondering what percentage of marriages end in divorce, you or your loved one might be contemplating a divorce in Minnesota. Carlson & Jones, P.A. can take care of all things legal when it comes to divorce, allowing you to focus on your and your family’s mental and physical well-being. Call us today on (855) 976-2444  for a free consultation or contact us online to know how we can help you.


This article was originally published on November 16, 2020 and updated on August 26, 2021.

How Long Does Divorce Take in Minnesota?

It’s impossible for anyone to say exactly how long it will take to divorce your spouse without knowing the details of the circumstances. When you’re asking how long does divorce take in Minnesota, know that a wide range of factors can influence the timeline. Your divorce will be unique to you.

Going through a divorce is rarely an easy experience. It’s understandable that the parties involved often want to complete the process as quickly as possible. If you’re a Minnesotan preparing to get a divorce, you may be wondering, how long does divorce take in Minnesota?

This general guide on how long it takes to get a divorce in Minnesota will cover the essentials, helping you get a more realistic sense of how long you should expect the process to last. Just remember, while resolving the situation quickly may seem ideal, you don’t want to make unnecessary sacrifices or concessions in order to speed up your divorce. In the long run, you’ll likely wish you’d spent more time negotiating for a more equitable outcome.

Consider Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota

This is one of the many reasons it’s important to enlist the help of a qualified and experienced family law and divorce lawyer in Minnesota when you’re getting a divorce. They’ll work hard to ensure that when your divorce is finalized, you’re satisfied.

A Realistic Timeline for a Minnesota Divorce

There are instances when getting a divorce in Minnesota can take as little as four weeks. This occurs when both spouses agree on various issues and work together (typically through their lawyers) to arrive at a mutually satisfying resolution quickly.

However, it’s often the case that spouses divorcing one another disagree on a number of issues. If the disagreements are fairly basic and both parties are willing to make some reasonable concessions, a divorce may take up to six months. That said, there are instances when significant disagreements can cause the divorce process to last years.

This is another reason it’s critical to hire the right Minnesota family lawyer when getting a divorce. Although no attorney can promise to convince your soon-to-be ex to change their mind on issues they may be stubborn about, they can negotiate on your behalf and increase your chances of finalizing the divorce relatively fast.

Factors Affecting How Long it Takes to Get a Divorce in Minnesota

Again, many factors can influence the timeline of a divorce. The following are among the more significant.

Children and Child Custody After Divorce

Divorces often take longer when there are children involved. Parents divorcing from one another tend to disagree over who should have custody of the children.

In some instances, it’s easy to determine which parent should have custody. If one parent has been clearly more involved in raising the kids up until this point or if one parent is unable to provide for them (whether financially, emotionally, or both), determining who should be the primary caregiver won’t be too difficult.

However, it’s often the case that both parents may seem to have strong arguments for why they should have custody. Skilled family law attorneys can help when this happens by carefully assessing all the reasons one parent is better-suited for the role of caregiver.


Research shows that money issues are among the leading causes of divorce in the US. Unfortunately, finances can also impact the length of the divorce process.

Depending on the details of the circumstances, one spouse may argue they’re entitled to a certain dollar amount or a share of the assets when getting a divorce. They may be unwilling to finalize the divorce until they feel they’ve been granted what they deserve.

Once more, an attorney’s help can be vital when this happens. If they can convince the lawyer of the stubborn spouse that what they’re asking for is unreasonable, the lawyer of the spouse who’s requesting more than they deserve might explain to them that they’re unlikely to get the deal they’re asking for, and should thus accept less in order to finalize the process and save money in the long run.

Disagreement Over the Divorce in Minnesota

Sometimes, one spouse will not wish to get a divorce from the other spouse. They may drag out the process in the vain hope that the spouse who initiated the divorce will change their mind.

This can be a very painful experience for all involved. However, it’s important to protect yourself when this happens. Don’t make the mistake of offering your spouse more than they deserve during negotiations in order to convince them to set aside their emotions and finalize the divorce. This may be tempting, but later, you’ll be unhappy that you came to an “agreement” that’s less-than-ideal for you because you simply wanted to wrap up the process. Your lawyer can advise you when you’re giving up more than you should.


It’s not uncommon for divorcing spouses to have difficulty communicating and cooperating with one another. This may even be one of the main reasons they’re getting a divorce.

However, sometimes spouses are able to cooperate, despite no longer being able to stay married. If you and your spouse communicate and work together, the divorce process will go much more smoothly and quickly.


This may seem like a basic detail, but it’s an important one, as scheduling issues can have a relatively significant impact on how long a divorce may take in Minnesota.

Often, the divorce process involves meetings between spouses and their attorneys, court appearances, and other events that need to be scheduled. If spouses and/or their attorneys are busy, or the court is somewhat backed up, the process can take longer than it might need to.

However, it’s important to understand that it’s possible to limit the number of meetings and court appearances that need to occur if both spouses can agree on various issues. This is often easier with the help of a skilled Minnesota family lawyer.

Getting a Divorce in Minnesota: Need-to-Know Information

Along with understanding how long it takes to get a divorce in Minnesota, there are a few more important points you should be familiar with when divorcing your spouse. They include the following:

Minnesota’s ‘No-Fault’ Divorce Law

To file for a divorce in Minnesota, you have to have resided in the state for at least 180 days. However, exceptions are made when at least one spouse is a member of the armed forces and has kept their Minnesota residency.

Luckily, Minnesota is a “no-fault” divorce state. That means you can get a divorce without needing to demonstrate that your spouse did something “wrong.” Even if your spouse doesn’t want to get a divorce, you can still be granted one.

Additionally, no-fault laws limit the court’s ability to consider various factors when making key decisions. For example, there may be disagreements over custody, but when resolving this issue, the court can’t account for whether one spouse cheated on the other.

Rights During the Divorce Process in Minnesota

Generally, under Minnesota law, both spouses have equal rights during the divorce process. This impacts the degree to which both spouses may access and use assets and property during the divorce.

For example, if you and your spouse have a joint bank account, during the divorce process, both of you can withdraw money from it. If you have a car that’s under both of your names, both of you can drive it until the divorce is finalized. However, if the car is only under your name, your divorce doesn’t have the right to use it, even if you allowed them to do so freely in the past.

The law does not allow either spouse to eliminate property, assets, or money when anticipating a divorce. For instance, perhaps one spouse doesn’t want the other to share any of the funds from a retirement account when the divorce is finalized. Thus, they might cash out the account. Even if they do, though, the court can still require them to share the money.

Important Divorce Terminology

The following are a few key terms worth being familiar with if you’re planning on getting a divorce in Minnesota:

  • Dissolution of marriage: This is the legal term for divorce in Minnesota.
  • Legal separation: A legal separation involves addressing many of the key issues spouses would settle during a typical divorce, such as custody issues and division of assets. However, a legal separation isn’t technically a divorce. Spouses who opt for legal separations instead of divorces often do so for religious purposes.
  • Annulment: An annulment involves a court ruling that two people were never legally married to begin with. For example, a court may grant an annulment if one spouse was unable to consent to a marriage (perhaps due to limited mental abilities) or one of the spouses was too young to get married at the time that they did. That said, it’s important to understand that legal annulments are not the same as religious annulments, which must be granted by religious institutions and which don’t affect legal marriages.

How Long Does Divorce Take in Minnesota? Ask a Minnesota Divorce Lawyer

Yes, getting a divorce is often challenging, and it makes sense that you’d want to see the process through as quickly as possible. Still, you shouldn’t sacrifice more than is necessary simply to finalize a divorce in a few weeks. If you’re wondering how long does a divorce take in Minnesota, you should consider hiring a divorce lawyer in Minnesota to ensure your needs and rights are protected.

Contact a divorce lawyer from Carlson & Jones for a free consultation.


Talking Cost of Divorce in Wright County with a Divorce Lawyer in Buffalo, MN

Calculating the average cost of a divorce is a bit like calculating the average price of a house. There is a significant discrepancy, to say the least. Former Today Show host Matt Lauer recently listed his Hamptons estate for $44 million. A small house in an older section of Buffalo will cost a lot, lot less than that. So, the average price of the two means almost nothing.

Therefore, if you ask a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer a question like “How much does the average divorce cost?”, the only honest answer is “more than you expect.” Anyone who gives you a different answer is most likely inexperienced or simply telling you what you want to hear. Marriage dissolution proceedings vary so much that blanket cost estimates are basically meaningless.

Additionally, divorce costs more than just money, at least in most cases. Typically, there is a significant emotional price as well. Many people alternate between intense sadness and intense happiness. Additionally, many spouses feel a profound sense of loss. They do not mourn the loss of a spouse as much as they mourn the loss of what might have been.

An experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer knows how to minimize both these costs and put long-term solutions in place for you and your family. Furthermore, we are one of the only Minnseota family law firms that offers comprehensive flat fee billing. Based on an initial evaluation, we can calculate the complete cost of a divorce. This complete divorce includes things like marriage dissolution, property division, and financial support. Flat fee billing is also available in modifications and other family law matters.

Types of Divorce

As mentioned, the type of house usually determines its cost. A few other factors, such as location, also apply. Similarly, the type of divorce often determines the cost. A few other factors, such as the lawyer’s experience level, also apply.

Absentee Spouse

Some marriage dissolutions are marital trauma divorces. Things are going rather well until something like abuse or adultery suddenly and unexpectedly poisons the relationship. However, most marriage dissolutions are slow fade divorces. Perhaps the spouses grow apart over time. Or perhaps the marriage is a near-constant cycle of sin and forgiveness, and one spouse simply cannot forgive any longer. These marriages usually break up emotionally long before they break up legally.

So, in most cases, the spouses have been separated for several weeks, months, or even years before someone finally files a divorce petition. There is a good chance that one spouse has moved on, especially if no young children were involved.

When one spouse files, a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer usually calls the proceeding an absentee spouse marriage dissolution. Since these matters often involve little more than filing papers, the cost of divorce could be rather minimal. Most courts allow citation by publication in a newspaper or even posting on the courthouse door. There’s practically no way a respondent will see these notices. So, once a brief waiting period ends, the judge often signs a divorce decree.

Don’t be fooled. Absentee divorces are surprisingly complex. For example, the aforementioned citation must include certain magic words, must appear in the right place, and must run for the prescribed amount of time. A mistake in any area could enable the respondent to completely undo the divorce, even many years after the fact.

Agreed Divorce

These marriage dissolutions are sometimes called waiver divorces. There are no substantive questions about parenting time, child support, property division, spousal support, or anything else. The petitioner files for divorce, the respondent signs all the papers, and the judge approves everything.

If the spouses were married less than six months and they are both ready to move on, the divorce might well be agreed. In general, these matters are a bit more time-consuming than absentee spouse divorces, but they are not substantially more expensive.

Those are two pretty big “ifs.” The average marriage which ends in divorce lasts about eight years. Most people have children and/or acquire property during this period. Parenting time, property division, and other issues usually cannot be resolved with just the stroke of a pen.

Additionally, if the spouses were only married a short while, the respondent often isn’t willing to let go so quickly. There is no legal defense to uncontested divorce in Minnesota. Only one spouse must testify that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, respondents can and do drag things out and make the divorce more expensive, usually in the hope that the petitioner will give up.

Uncontested Divorce

Most marriage dissolutions fall into this category. Neither spouse wants a protracted legal battle. But at the same time, neither spouse wants to go gentle into that good night.

We touched on some common divorce issues above. In an uncontested divorce, one or more of these issues might require dvorce mediation, which is outlined below. For now, let’s look at some common uncontested divorce issues more closely.

  • Parenting Time: There is a presumption that children benefit from consistent and meaningful contact with both parents. Parents frequently disagree as to what words like “consistent and meaningful” mean in a given context. Other parents disagree about the residential/non-residential designation.
  • Child Support: Frequently, the guidelines provide the support obligation. But judges can ignore the guidelines in some situations. Furthermore, some parents try to hide income or assets from their spouses in order to reduce their financial obligations.
  • Spousal Support: The same issues regarding asset or income-concealment apply here. Moreover, Minnesota laws are rather subjective in this area. The amount and duration of payments depends on a number of factors, such as the length of the marriage and the relative earning ability of the spouses.
  • Property Division: Roughly these same subjective factors apply to the division of debt and assets. About the only guidance is that Minnesota is an equitable distribution state. The divorce cannot be an unfair financial burden on either party. 

Uncontested divorces usually begin and end in much the same way as agreed divorces. The intermediate process could take several months or even several years. The length of that process, and the complexity of the issues, usually determines the cost of an uncontested divorce.

Contested Divorce

Only a handful of matters are contested divorces. Many Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers only handle two or three every eight or ten years.

Some people want or need the emotional closure that a divorce trial often uniquely offers. Other people want or need a judicial declaration that the breakup of the marriage was the other spouse’s fault. Still other times, the parties are so far apart on one or more of the aforementioned issues that they cannot possibly work out a settlement, even with a mediator’s help.

The judge’s rulings are pretty much final in these situations. Appeals are possible, but usually only successful if the judge abused his/her discretion or made an extremely serious error.

Reducing the Financial Cost of Divorce

Sometimes, attorneys have little or no control over the financial cost of divorce. If the adverse party agrees on most issues, the cost is generally lower. On the opposite end of the scale, if the adverse party bitterly contests every decision or throws up roadblocks, the cost could skyrocket.

We touched on asset concealment above. This problem is one of the most common cost-increasing factors in a Wright County divorce.

People try lots of different things to hide money. Common schemes include voluntarily increasing wage withholding to make their paychecks look smaller, moving assets to LLCs or other entities, and “transferring” items or accounts to friends or family members. These plans always unravel eventually, but many times, a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer must work hard to make the house of cards fall.

This work usually happens during divorce discovery. The law requires both parties to put all their cards, including financial records, on the table. To get the right answers, a lawyer must simply know the right questions to ask, or rather the right requests to make. If disputes arise over what must be produced and when, a judge usually resolves these matters.

Other times, however, attorneys have considerable control over divorce costs. Mediation is one of the best ways to reduce legal fees. The Department of Justice estimates that mediation and other alternative dispute resolution options saved litigants about $15 million in 2017.

Generally, it takes less time to prepare for mediation than trial. Mediation usually only lasts a full day or perhaps even a half day. There are no witnesses to question or cross-examine, no legal motions to argue, and no lengthy arguments to present. A trial, on the other hand, could last several days and include all these things.

Furthermore, mediation resolves divorce cases faster than trials. The DOJ also estimated that meditation reduced litigation time by a collective 13,886 days in 2017. Since time is money to clients and Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers, the faster the case is over, the lower the cost will be.

How Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers Reduce the Emotional Cost of Divorce

As outlined above, mediation could significantly lower the financial cost of marriage dissolution. Mediation usually reduces the emotional cost of divorce as well.

Trials are almost always public record. All the court filings are public, and anyone can attend the proceeding. Especially if marital fault is an issue in the divorce or the property division, such scrutiny can be truly awful.

Mediation, on the other hand, is private. Mediation usually takes place in an office building instead of a courthouse. Furthermore, only the parties know the date, time, and location. The only public document is a brief mediation report, which simply states that the case either settled or did not settle.

Additionally, mediation increases civility. The parties spend most of the time in separate rooms. They only interact with the mediator, who uses shuttle diplomacy to try and facilitate a settlement. On a related note, mediation is also empowering. When future disputes arise, and they always do, the parties often try to talk them out before they rush to hire Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers.

Trials, on the other hand, are emotional showdowns. These events are great theater for TV and movies, but they are often very hard on families.

On a final note, mediation increases control. The parties make important decisions instead of a Wright County family law judge. This added control is especially important if one or both parties have problems accepting authority.

Collaborative Law

So far, we’ve looked at litigation divorces. Litigation divorces often do not involve trials. In fact, over 90 percent of these matters settle out of court. But there is usually at least one court hearing. 

For example, at the temporary hearing, the judge sets ground rules for the divorce proceeding, including protective orders as needed. The judge also orders temporary financial support and a temporary parenting time division.

Technically, these orders expire when the judge finalizes the divorce. However, there’s an inertia factor. If the temporary orders work, even if they are not perfect, most judges hesitate to change them.

Collaborative law is a non-litigation divorce. As such, it often has very different emotional and financial costs. Litigation divorces usually begin when one spouse files a marriage dissolution petition. Collaborative law divorces begin when both parties submit a joint collaborative law declaration. That’s usually the only court filing in the case.

There are no court hearings, mediation sessions, or discovery motions in a collaborative law divorce. Instead, the parties meet privately about once a month to discuss the aforementioned divorce issues. If outside help is required, like a child psychologist or real estate agent, the parties usually split the costs. Many collaborative divorces are resolved after about six or eight meetings.

If things go wrong and the parties cannot reach an agreement, they must start over with new Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers. This rule helps ensure that the parties are fully committed to the process.

This alternative is an excellent choice in some situations. Obviously, however, it’s not for everybody.

Rely on a Dedicated Divorce Attorney in Buffalo, MN

There are a number of ways to reduce the emotional and/or financial costs of divorce. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.


This article was originally published on July 2. 2019 and updated on June 29, 2021.

How Much Does Divorce Cost in Minnesota?

The average divorce cost in Minnesota is around $7,500 but can range anywhere from $3,000 to up to $100,000. Determining how much does a divorce cost in Minnesota depends on multiple factors, including the type of divorce attorney you hire.

What else affects the cost of divorce? And how can you make sure your divorce is as affordable as possible? We’re answering these questions and more in this guide, so keep reading. 

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Minnesota with Fixed Fees?

There are several fixed fees you’re required to pay when filing for divorce in Minnesota. These fees are court-mandated, meaning there’s typically no way to get around or reduce them. But you can control some other divorce costs. 

Learn about fixed and variable divorce fees in Minnesota and tips on how to file for divorce affordably below.

Court Filing Fees

Minnesota courts charge a fee to file for divorce. Dissolving a marriage with or without children costs $365. There’s an additional $10 fee for the forms you and your former spouse need to fill out to make your divorce official.

Judges will waive filing fees in some rare cases. Usually, you only get a waiver if you can prove to the court that you cannot afford the fee. 

Serving Fees

In Minnesota, the law requires hand delivery of divorce papers. But the state explicitly forbids the spouse seeking the divorce from serving the documents himself or herself. Instead, you must hire someone to serve divorce papers for you.

There are two parties legally allowed to serve documents in Minnesota: your local Sheriff or a process server. Sheriffs’ civil processing fees vary by county. For example, the Sheriff in Ramsey County charges $70 per service while the Hennepin County Sheriff charges $80 to serve divorce papers.

The average cost of a professional process server is $53.99. However, Minnesota law defines a process server as a person aged 18 years or older who isn’t “party to the action.” In other words, your server can technically be any adult as long as that adult isn’t you, your former spouse, or anyone else named in the divorce proceedings.

Motion Filing Fees

In some cases, you or your spouse may need to file a motion before or during divorce proceedings. Motions request that the judge make a decision about a limited matter before the start of a trial. For example, if you fear injury from your former spouse, you may request a motion for a temporary restraining order. 

Filing a motion before or during divorce proceedings will usually cost $50–$75. It’s free to file a domestic abuse/harassment motion in Minnesota. If you have to respond to a motion (i.e., if your spouse files one against you), you’ll also have to pay $50–$75. 

Third-Party Fees

Complicated divorces may require a third-party service. 

This is often the case when there are a significant number of high-value assets on the line. To ensure the equitable division of your marital property, you and your spouse may need a third-party appriasal of your property. According to, one single-family home appraisal costs $300–$450. The actual cost to appraise your assets will depend on their size, value, and condition.

It’s also common to hire child custody evaluators when children are involved in a divorce. The custody evaluator will conduct interviews with the child and each parent to determine what’s best for the minor. Fees for custody evaluations vary. But expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to over $15,000. 

Mediation Expert Fees

If you’ve ever researched how to get a divorce, you may know that divorces don’t always require attorneys. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) may be an option if you and your spouse are willing to work together. 

During ADR, a mediator will help you and your spouse decide the terms of your divorce. Mediation experts are neutral parties that work for both spouses, meaning you can split the cost. A mediator could be a lawyer or another type of mediation professional.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mediators make a median pay of $30 per hour. Hiring an attorney to be your mediator can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour. Yet, the cost is often worth it since the more experienced the mediator, the faster you and your spouse can come to an agreement, and the less you’ll pay in the end.

Attorney Fees

You and your spouse can finalize your divorce outside of court and for much less money if you both amicably agree on the terms. But when spouses can’t compromise, a Minnesota court will make decisions about the issue(s) for you. This is where a divorce attorney comes in.

Attorney fees are typically the highest cost during a divorce. The average US divorce attorney charges $250 per hour. This is only an average, meaning some attorneys charge more and others charge less. In Minnesota, the average attorney’s hourly fee ranges from $215–$255 depending on a few factors. 

The Location Factor

The first factor is location. City lawyers are almost always pricier per hour than rural ones. This increased rate comes partly from the fact that urban lawyers receive greater demand for their services. 

The current rural lawyer shortage has also spurred many firms to get creative with rates. Some law firms now provide flat fee services, which allows you to only pay for the divorce services you need. So, the first way to reduce divorce attorney costs is to seek out a firm offering flat fee services.

Your Minnesota Divorce Lawyer’s Expertise is a Factor

Another factor that impacts attorney rates is expertise. Young, inexperienced lawyers for divorce know they can’t compete against their tenured counterparts. So, they charge a lower hourly rate to attract business. The same thing goes for attorneys who have low success rates.

In addition to rates, you have to consider hours logged. Uncontested divorces where you and your spouse work out the terms of your divorce are always cheaper. Why? Because they’re quicker. Conversely, if you and your spouse need multiple trials to resolve disputes, your attorney will log more hours, and your final bill will be higher. 

Factors Affecting Divorce Attorney Costs

By now, you may be wondering: what if you can’t afford the cost of an attorney? Should you represent yourself in a divorce? Technically, you don’t need an attorney to get a divorce in Minnesota. But if you do choose self-representation, the judge will expect you to follow court and local laws. 

If you don’t want to represent yourself, there’s good news. You can cut divorce attorney fees by choosing an experienced lawyer with a reasonable hourly rate, working with your spouse to reduce the number of disputes needing resolution, or both. Here’s how.

The Type of Attorney You Hire

You may think hiring an inexperienced divorce lawyer will save you money. But because the attorney has less expertise, he or she will be less prepared to respond to complications in the case should they arise. 

Worse, these lawyers may try to aggravate disputes just to make an extra buck. That’s why it’s always wiser to choose a reputable lawyer with divorce expertise, even if he or she has a higher hourly rate.

Good attorneys never increase conflict in your case just to pad their paychecks. An experienced divorce attorney knows how to handle complex matters and can speed up the process, logging fewer hours in the long run. That way, you’ll pay less for the total cost of representation. 

The Complexity of Your Divorce 

Complicated divorces are always more expensive. You’ll have to go to trial for each dispute you and your spouse can’t decide on your own. And the longer you spend in court, the higher your final divorce attorney bill will be. The most commons disputes during divorces include:

  • Child Custody: when you and your spouse can’t agree on how you will or will not share custody of your children
  • Child Support: when you and your spouse can’t agree on whether or how much child support should be paid
  • Division of Assets: when you and your spouse can’t agree on how you should divide your marital property (i.e., assets purchased during the marriage)
  • Division of Liabilities: when you and your spouse can’t agree on how you should divvy up marital debts (i.e., liabilities acquired during the marriage)
  • Spousal Maintenance: when you and your spouse can’t agree on how much and for how long alimony will be paid to the lesser-earning spouse 

It’s understandable if you and your spouse have trouble agreeing on these crucial issues. However, resolving as many of these problems as possible outside of court can significantly reduce your attorney fees.

Looking for the Best Divorce Attorney in Minnesota?

When considering the divorce cost in Minnesota, you have to factor in court and attorney fees. You can’t control the fees courts require to file a divorce. But you can reduce the total cost of legal representation by compromising with your spouse or, when you can’t, by choosing an experienced attorney who knows how to fight for your rights.

Ready to learn how Carlson & Jones P.A. can help you afford the cost of divorce? Contact us for a free consultation with our Minnesota divorce attorney. 

How to Find a Reputable Divorce Lawyer in Minnetonka?

Divorce can be emotionally taxing for couples. When legally terminating your marriage, however, you need to ensure that your future is financially and emotionally secure.

Most separating spouses in Minnetonka may find it difficult to navigate the legal nuances of divorce.

It is, therefore, important to seek advice from a competent divorce lawyer in Minnetonka. Whether you are going for a contested or an uncontested divorce, hiring a reputed divorce lawyer is pertinent.

Fortunately, there are several ways to find and engage the right divorce lawyer in Minnetonka.

The following tips will be helpful in your search.

1. Understand the Requirements of Your Case

Finding the right divorce lawyer starts by understanding your needs. For example, you should consider factors like child custody, pre and postnuptial agreements, division of assets and debt, and more. Based on the factors at play in your unique case, look for a divorce lawyer with vast experience in dealing with these types of issues.

Simply put, when you understand your specific requirements, it will become easy for you to find a reputed divorce lawyer with relevant experience.

2. Seek Recommendations

Whether you are looking for a Minnesota personal injury lawyer or a divorce lawyer, it is a good idea to ask your friends and family for references of attorneys they may have worked with. You should definitely contact the recommended lawyers if your friends/family had a positive experience working with them.

You should also look for feedback, reviews, ratings, and comments on online forums, attorney review websites, and social media platforms. This will give you an idea of how reliable a prospective divorce lawyer is.

3. Ask the Right Questions

Gaining a realistic perspective of your divorce case will enable you to plan for your future prudently. It is, therefore, important that you work with a divorce lawyer in Minnetonka who is knowledgeable enough to answer your queries, thereby clearing your doubts about the complex aspects of your case.

You should ask pointed questions that can help you gain an in-depth idea about the competency of your lawyer. Ask them about:

• Their years of experience as a divorce attorney
• Their success rate in divorce cases
• Procedure of handling paperwork and other legal formalities
• Strategies used to resolve unexpected complications in the case

4. Check for Attentiveness

It is important that your divorce lawyer in Minnetonka dedicates adequate time and attention to studying your case. The prospective lawyer should be mindful of every fact and detail of your divorce. If you find that the lawyer is inattentive or is divulging details about other clients or is easily distracted, avoid hiring them.

A competent divorce attorney should ideally ask you several pointed questions to extract useful information about the case from you. They should also give you opportunities to ask them questions, without hurrying the session.

If they are able to explain the strengths and the loopholes in your case, you know they are paying attention. This kind of attention to detail will help drive your case in the right direction.

5. Look for Transparency and Comfort Level

It is important that your divorce lawyer in Minnetonka is transparent and honest with you. They should not give you false promises or guarantees about the case’s outcome. They should also clearly mention their fees and a proper payment structure in writing.

Furthermore, you should feel comfortable when discussing your case with the lawyer. They should not make you feel you’re being judged. You should be able to talk about instances of verbal/physical/sexual abuse against you by your spouse. Also, the lawyer should ensure the highest level of confidentiality of any sensitive information you share with them.

If you feel that the lawyer has an unprofessional approach and hesitates in discussing certain aspects of your case, look for other options as these factors may negatively impact your case proceedings.

6. Check If the Divorce Lawyer in Minnetonka Acclimates to Your Case

Every divorce case is unique and has its own set of elements at play. The divorce lawyer you choose should be pragmatic and flexible based on the requirements of your divorce proceedings. They should fine-tune their strategies according to what works favorably for your case.

Their adaptability will help you deal with any difference of opinion amicably and eliminate the chances of unwanted delay.


Going through a divorce can be emotionally draining. The best thing you can do for yourself is to hire an experienced divorce lawyer in Minnetonka. They can offer you valuable inputs and empower you to sail through the trying aspects of a divorce case with relative ease. A competent divorce lawyer will also work towards protecting your rights and future.

Contact Our Team of Divorce Lawyers for a Consultation Today!

If you need the legal assistance of a divorce lawyer in Minnetonka, contact our team of legal experts at Carlson & Jones, P. A. You can reach out to us at (855) 976-2444 or contact us through our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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Brainerd, MN 56401

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114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

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3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

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