Uncontested Divorce

What if a husband and wife have divided their debts and assets and negotiated legal custody, physical custody and parenting time on their own? Is an attorney necessary to finalize the divorce? An attorney can be retained to draft the approximately 10 forms necessary to complete a divorce. Some clients hire the attorney to complete and file the 60-70 pages necessary to finish a divorce. Jessica L. Sterle may be retained for a low fee to draft the forms and file the paperwork so the parties can quickly divorce. Prospective clients may contact her office for more information.

Common questions about uncontested divorce

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce in Minnesota is one where the couple has reached an agreement on every single issue – custody of the children and the parenting time schedule they want to use child support, and the division of assets and debts.  They have not one unresolved issue because they either sat down together to discuss how they want to divorce or they attended mediation and reached a full settlement on all of their issues.  Consider consulting with an attorney in the Duluth area to review the full settlement to ensure the agreement is fair and equitable and that you did not miss any issues that could cause problems in the future.

What does uncontested divorce mean?

An uncontested divorce is where the couple is not fighting with one another about a parenting time schedule for the parents, how child support is calculated, where the children live, and the division of their assets and debts.  Or the attorneys representing each person have helped them finalize an agreement without having to go to court.  An uncontested divorce is significantly less expensive and is finalized much faster than a contested one which may require having to go to court.  Consider consulting with an attorney in the Duluth area to review the full settlement to review any settlement with your spouse to make sure it is in your best interests and no legal issues were missed that could cause problems in the future.

How to get an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce requires each person to be willing to settle the divorce outside of court.  It requires the parties to be civil with one another in order to either work together or through attorneys to reach an agreement so a judge does not have to make decisions on where the children live, who sees the children when, and the division of debts and assets.  One motivating factor for an uncontested divorce is that it is considerably less expensive than one that is contested where a Trial is needed for a judge to decide how the divorce is going to be done.

Consider consulting with an attorney in the Duluth area to discuss if an uncontested divorce can be done in your situation, the time in which an uncontested divorce can be completed, and the costs of the divorce process.

How long does an uncontested divorce take?

Not only do uncontested divorces save money, but they also save time. Minnesota Court Rules state if the parties have minor children and if one or none of the parties has an attorney, there is one required court hearing for the judge to discuss with the parties their agreement to see if it is in the best interests of the children and fair and equitable. Additionally, if the parties do not have minor children or they have minor children but both parties each are represented by any attorney then there is no required court hearing.

In the Duluth area, an uncontested divorce that requires one court hearing can be completed in approximately two months. An uncontested divorce with no minor children, which is purely administrative and requires no court hearings, can be completed in approximately four weeks.

It is wise to have a family law attorney review the uncontested paperwork in order to make sure it is completed correctly and to identify if any legal issues not addressed in order to avoid going to court in the future to fix problems.

Do I have to go to court for an uncontested divorce?

Possibly. One court hearing may be required if the parties have children under the age of 18. 

Minnesota Court Rules state if the parties have minor children and if one or none of the parties has an attorney, there is one required court hearing. The hearing is required so the judge can discuss with the parties the agreement they reached to see if it is in the best interests of the children and fair and equitable. If the parties do not have any minor children or they have minor children but both parties each are represented by any attorney, then there is no required court hearing.

How to file an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is filed with the court either by filing the paper documents with the local Court Administration office or electronically via a computer or tablet. The Minnesota Courts provide the necessary forms on its website for parties to print and then hand right all the necessary information. Once the forms are completed, one or both of the parties can either mail or hand-deliver the documents to the local Court Administration which is staffed during the pandemic. For those living in the Duluth area, Court Administration is on the third floor of the St. Louis County Courthouse in downtown Duluth. 

For those who rather complete the forms online and then submit them to the court online, the Minnesota Court website offers a software program allowing the information needed for the forms to be typed out and then autogenerated into the various forms. The paperwork can be printed so it can be filed with Court Administration should the parties not want to file it electronically.

It is wise to have a family law attorney review the uncontested paperwork before it is filed with Court Administration in order to make sure it is completed correctly and to identify if any legal issues not addressed in order to avoid going to court in the future to fix problems.

Can an uncontested divorce be reversed?

It depends. If the parties complete all the necessary paperwork for an uncontested divorce and file it with the local Court Administration office, a divorce may be stopped if the judge has not already signed the final Order granting the divorce if one or both of the parties provide a letter to that Court Administration office saying one or both of them want to pause the divorce. The letter must be received by the judge before he or she signs that Order for this to happen.

Once the judge signs the final Order granting the divorce, the divorce is final and cannot be reversed. Minnesota law allows the divorce to be appealed. Minnesota Statute Section 518.145 gives one or both of the parties an opportunity to reopen the divorce in limited circumstances in cases where the agreement the parties involved a mistake, fraud, or excusable neglect.

A person anticipating going through an uncontested divorce should give serious thought to scheduling a consultation with a family law attorney to review the uncontested paperwork in order to make sure it is completed correctly in order to avoid going to court in the future to fix errors or to address issues that were mistakenly not addressed.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost?

The Minnesota court system charges $375.00 for the parties to file for an uncontested divorce. Some counties may add additional fees. St. Louis County in Duluth, Virginia, and Hibbing and Carlton and Itasca Counties do not charge additional fees. Parties who use mediation as a way to help them finalize an uncontested divorce will pay between $500.00 to $1,000.00 for this service.

Those couples who choose to retain an attorney to draft all the necessary documents to complete a divorce may pay between $2,000.00 to $3,000.00 for that legal work.

One or both of the parties should give serious consideration to having a consultation with a family law attorney in order to discuss the uncontested divorce process, Minnesota divorce law, and how a potential settlement affects their legal rights so to avoid having to return to court in the future to try to fix inconsistencies or problems from the divorce.