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Do I have to go to court to get a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2023 | high asset divorce |

If you’re one of many Minnesota spouses who have determined that you’d rather cut ties with your spouse than stay in an unhappy marriage, the trajectory of your future may be about to change. Adapting to a new lifestyle after years of marriage can be challenging in more ways than one, especially financially. In fact, the thought of cost causes some people to hesitate when considering filing for a divorce.  

You’ll be glad to know that you don’t necessarily have to step foot inside a courtroom to finalize a divorce. There are alternative dispute resolution options that enable you to achieve a settlement in another type of setting. Exploring these options might help you accomplish your goal, especially if you’re trying to minimize expenses as much as possible.  

Informal negotiations may be a better fit for your divorce 

If you’re worried about court proceedings causing you to be overextended on your finances, you may want to consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to settle your divorce. There are several types of ADR, including mediation and arbitration. It’s helpful to seek guidance from an experienced source to determine which style best fits your needs.  

One of the benefits of exercising ADR in a divorce is that these options are typically much less expensive than litigation. If your goal is to avoid confrontation and stay out of court, you’ll want to explore these alternative forms of negotiation. 

Mediation works well for spouses on friendly terms 

If you and your spouse still get along well and can discuss important issues without tempers flaring, then mediation might be an ADR option that works for you to settle your divorce. You would schedule discussion sessions (as many as needed) to resolve differences regarding property division, child custody and any other relevant issue.  

The key to successful mediation is peaceful discussion. A mediator can help facilitate discussion sessions. After working out terms of agreement, you can seek the court’s approval, and that’s that. You settle your divorce without entering a courtroom. If communication between you and your spouse is effective, it likely will not take many sessions to draft your agreement.  

Arbitration is more like a trial 

As opposed to setting up meetings in a confidential setting to discuss all relevant topics with your spouse, if you choose arbitration as an ADR option, you will participate in proceedings that are more like a trial than a meeting.  In mediation, a neutral third party helps facilitate discussion. With arbitration, however, there is an arbitrator (like a judge, but not) who hears your case in a private setting, then renders a decision. 

You cannot appeal the decision of a divorce arbitrator. You and your spouse must each have legal representation to guide you through the process. This type of ADR is the best option for spouses who have reached an impasse and are unable to agree to an important issue, such as child support or custody. The arbitrator’s decision is final. Always seek clarification of Minnesota divorce laws before ADR or litigation.