In Minnesota, a divorce case commences when the Petitioner serves the Summons and Petition for Marital Dissolution (and usually some other documents, too) upon the Respondent. The law requires that these documents be “personally” served (and not by the Petitioner). In other words, the documents are physically handed to the Respondent, usually by a private process server.
Or, the documents can be mailed to the Respondent in order to avoid the trauma of personal service. But this method requires some cooperation by the Respondent, as they must be willing to sign an Admission of Service form indicating that they received the documents in lieu of personal service. In cases where communication and cooperation are non-existent, the Petitioner may have no choice but to have the Respondent personally served.
From there, the Petitioner must decide whether they want to file those same documents with the Court. If they do, a Court file will be opened, a judicial officer assigned, and the first court date will be set. When this happens, you are officially on the Court’s tickler system.
The Petitioner also has the option of not immediately filing the Summons and Petition, however. If the documents are not filed, the Court does not even know that the case exists. The parties are free to negotiate the terms of the divorce at their own pace. Some people prefer this. If both parties are comfortable with the pace of negotiations and are participating in good faith, there is really no reason why the parties cannot choose to not immediately file the case. When an agreement is eventually reached, the parties would then file all of the necessary documents, and they may be able to avoid appearing in Court all together.
If the case is not filed, and one party is dragging their feet, there is really not much that the other party can do about it. In that instance, my advice is to file the case with the Court. That will force the other side to the table, and make them participate in the Court process.
Contested and contentious cases are usually filed right away. This ensures that the case will move along, and makes it easier for decisions to be made if the Court needs to get involved. But, if neither you nor you soon-to- be ex-spouse are necessarily interested in moving the case along, you do have the option of not filing the case until the final settlement has been reached.
Every situation is different. Talk to your lawyer about whether it makes sense to file your case right away or not.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.