Divorce

Also known as marital dissolution, divorce is a court proceeding to legally end a marriage. It can include a court hearing to decide temporary relief of various issues in the early stage of proceedings. Ultimately, the parties must either agree on their own or have a judge decide how the parties shall permanently provide for the care and access of marital children (custody and visitation), who must pay child support and how much, and who must pay alimony (otherwise known as spousal maintenance), if any, how to divide marital property (debts, personal property, vehicles) and name change if any.

Divorce is hard. Sterle Law works to make your divorce as simple as possible. Avoid time off from work to drive across town or worry about finding a babysitter. I offer appointments online and will provide you with a list of documentation I’ll need to get the filing process underway. 

Common questions about divorce 

Do I need an attorney for a divorce?

Every person’s situation is different. Some couples are able to sit down and discuss and then agree upon a parenting time schedule, child support, and the division of debts and assets on their own so the need for an attorney is less. Others cannot or will not reach an agreement because their communication with each other is poor on some or all of the issues involving their children and the division of debts and assets. Couples who have sizeable assets or businesses do need an attorney representing each of them in order to best protect their assets.

The best way to know if you need an attorney is to schedule a consultation with one in Minnesota or in the state in which you live who represents clients in divorces. Having a one-on-one discussion for the attorney to understand you and your situation will provide you with the best information to know if you should represent yourself or retain an attorney.

Read the Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Divorce Attorney

How to choose a divorce attorney?

The best way to choose an attorney is to schedule a consultation to meet and talk with that attorney. A consultation is a one-on-one conversation to discuss one’s situation, assets and debts, children’s needs and the wants and wishes if there is a divorce. If you live in Minnesota, you want to talk with an attorney who practices law in Minnesota. If you live in the Duluth area, you want to speak with an attorney in the Duluth area who has experience with the local court rules and experience with those local judges. Having this conversation allows one to get to know the attorney’s knowledge, experience, and personality. Scheduling a consultation with two or three attorneys helps one find an attorney to hire who is the best fit for his or her needs.

Who pays attorney fees in a divorce?

Each person going through a divorce pays his or her own attorney fees unless the parties decide to either split the fees or one pays some or all of the other’s fees. In Minnesota if a judge has to decide if one person has to pay the other’s attorney fees, Minnesota Statute Section 518.14 says:

The court shall award attorney fees, costs, and disbursements in an amount necessary to enable a party to carry on or contest the proceeding, provided it finds:

(1) that the fees are necessary for the good-faith assertion of the party’s rights in the proceeding and will not contribute unnecessarily to the length and expense of the proceeding;

(2) that the party from whom fees, costs, and disbursements are sought has the means to pay them; and

(3) that the party to whom fees, costs, and disbursements are awarded does not have the means to pay them.

If the parties’ incomes are the same or close to it, judges are hesitant to order one party to pay the other’s attorney fees. Judges in the Duluth area tend to be unlikely to award attorney fees to the lower-income spouse. The best chance for a judge to order a party to pay the other’s attorney’s fees is if there is a significant difference between their incomes.

I don’t think I can afford a divorce attorney.

Attorneys are certainly expensive, but they are an investment in one’s future. Call around to different divorce attorneys to find out how much they charge. Consider scheduling a consultation with one or more divorce attorneys to find out first-hand the various cost of a divorce, such as the court-required filing fee and mediation. The attorney can discuss with you if you have grounds to ask a judge to order your spouse to pay your attorney fees. In Minnesota, Minnesota Statute Section 518.14 says a judge can order you have your attorney fees paid by your spouse if:

The court shall award attorney fees, costs, and disbursements in an amount necessary to enable a party to carry on or contest the proceeding, provided it finds:

(1) that the fees are necessary for the good-faith assertion of the party’s rights in the proceeding and will not contribute unnecessarily to the length and expense of the proceeding;

(2) that the party from whom fees, costs, and disbursements are sought has the means to pay them; and

(3) that the party to whom fees, costs, and disbursements are awarded does not have the means to pay them.

If getting attorney fees from your spouse is not possible, consider contacting the Duluth Legal Aid office to see if you qualify for its free or low-fee legal services.

How much does a divorce attorney cost?

It depends. The more the couple can agree upon – custody of the kids, the parenting time schedule they will have with the kids, and the division of debts and assets – the less they pay their attorney. One way to keep attorney fees low is using mediation, a process that allows couples the power and ability to try to reach an agreement on their own rather than having a judge do it. Divorce attorney costs can vary widely so consider calling Duluth area attorneys and asking what they charge. Or better yet, consider scheduling one or more consultations with Duluth area attorneys to best understand the divorce process to best narrow down how much a divorce may cost you.

DIY Divorce: Is it possible to get divorced online? 

Yes, a do-it-yourself divorce is possible. There are two key elements to a DIY divorce. First, both parties must be amicable to an uncontested divorce. This means you and your ex must have the majority of the decisions hashed out like parenting time, where everyone is going to live, finances, etc. Second, you need to provide me with the documents on our divorce checklist. Need help? Schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney, Jessica Sterle, please schedule an initial consultation appointment online and fill out the Consultation Intake Form

Read More About Getting Divorced in Minnesota