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Divorce in Benton County
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Online Divorce in Benton County
Please note: OnlineDivorce.com in Benton County, Minnesota, is a divorce document preparation service, not a law firm. Online Divorce is not eligible to provide legal advice. All the information below is for informational purposes only.
Before initiating divorce proceedings in Minnesota, the spouses should learn the particularities of the legal procedure and the requirements of the state and county they live in.
After you get familiar with Minnesota family law and manage to reach an agreement with your spouse, you may be able to handle the matters on your own, without a legal representative. This will allow you to have an affordable divorce.
Most couples want not only a cheap divorce but a fast one too. However, no one can promise you that getting a divorce will be quick because there are many factors involved. But an uncontested divorce is considered the simplest and easiest way to have a divorce in Minnesota.
To have an uncontested divorce, a couple has to reach an agreement on all divorce-related issues and memorialize it in a marital settlement agreement. The judge reviews the agreement and grants a divorce, so long as the conditions of the agreement are not detrimental to the other party. The spouses can gradually work out all their differences of time and still have an uncontested divorce. In Minnesota, you can have your own divorce referred to as a do-it-yourself divorce. If the spouses are able to divide assets and make arrangements regarding alimony and child custody on their own, they can make do without an attorney. To do so, one of the spouses, individually, or both spouses together (as joint petitioners) must obtain printable court forms and complete them.
OnlineDivorce.com provides assistance in getting a divorce without a lawyer. OnlineDivorce.com is an inexpensive solution for couples to gather and complete the documents required in the county and state in which they live. OnlineDivorce.com has assisted hundreds of couples in Benton County, MN by providing completed court forms specific for the location and details of each individual case, along with written instructions on how to fill them out.
Read through an overview of the divorce process and get familiar with the Family Law and local rules specific for Benton County, MN. After learning how to get a divorce in a few easy steps, you can get your amicable divorce finalized rather quickly, as the state has no waiting period.
Note that, in the divorce process, the person filing the petition for divorce is referred to as the petitioner. The other spouse is known as the respondent (as he or she responds to the paperwork).
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Valid grounds to get divorce in Benton County
Minnesota does not require divorcing couples to come up with fault-based grounds for divorce. Spouses simply need to state "an irretrievable breakdown of their marriage" and this is deemed enough to initiate a divorce case.
Because Minnesota has a no-fault divorce law, a spouse who wants a divorce is almost certain to be granted one by the court even if the other spouse does not want a divorce.
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Under Minnesota law Minn. Stat. ch. 518D, the court decides about legal custody (the parent who makes major decisions about the child’s upbringing) and physical custody (the parent who will provide daily care and residence to the child).
If the parents can reach an agreement on what kind of living arrangements they prefer and how decisions will be made on behalf of the child, the court will accept it, given that it meets the child’s best interests.
If the parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court will decide for them. Depending on the child’s age, the court can take into consideration the child’s preference as to where to live. However, the judge will consider a number of factors, such as each party's wishes, which parent has been providing primary care, what kind of relationship each parent has with the child, the community and environment, and any other relevant factors.
If the parents reach an agreement, they are not required by Minnesota law to attend a parenting class. However, if the parents cannot decide on custody or parenting time, Minnesota Statute § 518.157 requires them to take a parenting education class.
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Rules for child support in Benton County
Minnesota Law (Minnesota Statute Section 518A) recognizes each child’s right to get financial contributions from each parent depending on their arrangements. Typically, the parent with primary physical custody tends to receive the child support payments because he or she takes care of the child on a day-to-day basis. However, if the parents share custody almost equally, they can come up with different arrangements for child support.
Child support is paid until the child reaches 18 or graduates from high school.
Rules for spousal support in Benton County
In Minnesota, spousal support, also referred to as maintenance or alimony, can be paid by the higher earning spouse regardless of sex. However, Minnesota Law (Minnesota Statute Sec. 518C.211) has clear-cut requirements for the requesting spouse to be awarded alimony. To get paid spousal support during or after the divorce, the requesting spouse must lack income to cover his or her day-to-day needs through employment or assets and be unable to get employed due to parenting duties.
To award spousal support, the court examines the financial resources, age, health, and ability to work of the requesting spouse, the time required for education and training, and employment opportunities. Also, the judge will review how much each spouse has contributed to marital property and assisting each other in education and training.
Uncontested Benton County divorce with children
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Property division in Benton County
How property is divided differs from state to state. According to 2019 Minnesota Statutes of Domestic Relations Section 518.58, the court will use the equitable distribution method and each spouse will get a fair share of marital assets depending on his or her contribution and other factors.
Aiming at “a just and equitable division of the marital property,” the district court of Benton County will consider the following factors when making a decision on the division of marital property:
the length of the marriage;
any prior marriages;
each spouse’s age, health, employment, and income;
each spouse’s training and employability, liabilities, and needs;
each spouse’s contribution to the marital property, and
each spouse’s contribution as a homemaker.
The court does not divide separate property, as it is considered as a non-marital asset.
Mediation support in Benton County
Mediation is an option for divorcing couples to resolve their differences before going on a divorce trial.
If the couple works with attorneys on their divorce case, they can sit through the process. However, mediation is the involvement of a neutral third party who assists the spouses in meeting their interests through compromise and available options.
If the spouses want to have an uncontested divorce, but are having some disputes, they should use mediation before they submit a marital settlement agreement to the judge to review. A viable marital settlement agreement is a crucial component to have a divorce in the fastest way. It allows the couples to have control over the outcome of the case. If the spouses manage to divide their property equitably and share their parental responsibilities to the child’s ‘best interests,’ the court will typically approve it.
In Benton County, divorcing couples may be ordered to attend divorce mediation if the judge declines their arrangement during a court hearing.
How to file for divorce in Benton County | Step-by-Step
Check out your eligibility. The residency requirements for the State of Minnesota requires at least one of the spouses to be a resident of the state for at least for 180 days. The petitioner can file in the county of choice, which can be helpful when seeking more favorable judges for custody and marital support.
Find your district court. In Minnesota, divorce cases are held in the district courts. If you are eligible to file for a divorce in Benton County, find the district court of the county and file your divorce papers there.
Obtain and fill out court forms. Divorce forms are available, free of charge, at the district court of Benton County. Or you can download them online from the court website and print them out. After you fill out all the paperwork, you must notarize it. This means you each sign the document in front of a notary and pay a notary fee.
File the divorce paperwork with the court clerk. You should each have your own copy of the documents and the originals should be filed with the court. The court clerk assigns your paperwork a case number and stamps them. That is where the timeline for your divorce starts. The clerk enters your divorce papers while you pay a filing fee. If you are low on funds, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. If you apply for it and get approved, the judge will exempt you from paying all fees until your divorce is finalized. (If you and your spouse file a joint petition, you skip Step 4 to 5 and go straight to Step 6)
Serve the spouse the divorce papers. The location of the spouse and the spouse’s ability or reluctance to cooperate, can affect the duration of the divorce proceedings. To properly serve the respondent, the petitioner takes the stamped copy of the Summons and Divorce Petition and hires a professional server to deliver them to the spouse. The server will have to bring a proof of service to the petitioner to file together with the other paperwork. However, if the spouse is reluctant to get involved in a divorce or is missing, serving the divorce papers can be challenging. So how to serve divorce papers in Minnesota? There are three options:
- You can apply for the local sheriff’s assistance at a cost
- You can hire a professional service server (if your spouse has to be found, each attempt will cost a fee)
- You can deliver the documents by certified mail, as it provides you with a proof of service too
If the spouse hides or if you cannot find him or her, you can still have a divorce by yourself. But you must exhaust your search options and provide the court with a detailed list of all your efforts. After that, the court will allow you to serve your spouse by publication. After running a publication notice of divorce for three consecutive weeks, the petitioner can apply for a default divorce if the spouse fails to respond within 30 days after the last publication.
Get the response from the spouse. The spouse has 30 days from the date of service of the divorce papers to file a response with the court. This is referred to as an Answer. The response can be accompanied by a Counter-Petition if the spouse disagrees with the terms of the divorce you laid out in the Petition and Summons. If the other spouse fails to respond with an Answer, the divorce proceedings move on to a default hearing. The petitioner will file a default scheduling request. Minnesota's divorce default statutes allow the court to grant the petitioner a default judgment if the respondent has failed to respond.
Attend a court hearing. In Benton County, the district court will schedule a court appearance for the parties to meet and for the judge to review the agreement reached. The court will send a Notice of Court Assignment for an ICMC (Initial Case Management Conference). To resolve the issues of child custody and parenting time, the court refers couples to mediation or the Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE). Families pay for these services according to a sliding fee scale based on the spouse’s Individual Annual Gross Income.
Wait for the divorce to finalize. If the spouses reached an agreement, a court appearance may not even be needed. The judge receives the signed agreement and reviews it for approval. If the spouses managed to resolve custody and property division in an equitable manner, the judge will not assign a hearing. As soon as the judge signs the final judgment, the spouses get notification of their divorce being finalized.
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Filing fees for divorce in Benton County
In Minnesota, the average filing fee is about $400. Note that the petitioner pays the filing fee and then the respondent will pay a separate filing fee if they file an Answer and Counterpetition.
However, each state provides an opportunity to get a divorce for people of any social status and income. Those who cannot afford to pay a filing fee can request a fee waiver from the court clerk. If they submit their financial information and are found to be eligible, they can obtain a fee waiver.
How long will it take?
In Benton County, it is possible for divorcing couples to get a divorce decree in 5-6 weeks in cases where the spouses file a joint petition and are cooperative, as the state has no mandatory separation period. However, in most cases, delays for various reasons do happen. So even if both parties agree, it is more reasonable to expect the length of divorce process to last 2 to 3 months.
Typically, if the spouses have no children, they may reach an agreement more quickly simply because they do not need to resolve custody-related issues.
For couples who have no minor children, a short marriage, and not much property, Minnesota courts provide a service of Summary Dissolution.
no children together, and the wife is not pregnant;
been married for no more than eight years;
no marital real estate;
marital property less than $25,000;
less than $8,000 in debts (not including car loans);
separate property worth less than $25,000 for each spouse;
no history of domestic abuse;
separate retirement accounts, if any.
Filing for divorce in Benton County | Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a divorce cost in Benton County? It is difficult to come up with the price of a divorce not only because fees vary from county to county but also because it depends on the circumstances of each case. For Benton County, the filing fees (with notaries and signatures) can be roughly $400. The total cost of divorce will obviously be higher as the petitioner needs to factor in the fee of copying documents, service fees, etc. However, keep in mind that an uncontested divorce is the cheapest. Also, make sure you factor in all the other costs related to mediation, ENE, and other evaluations and estimations. Typically, the more issues of contention the couple has (children, property, pension and insurance plans, debts) the more they pay and the less likely they are to be able to resolve issues on their own.
How to file for divorce in Benton County without a lawyer? In Benton County, couples are allowed to be self-representing litigants, which means that you can learn the divorce procedure and file for divorce on your own. To help divorcing couples, OnlineDivorce.com provides a divorce form preparation service, completing the specific papers required for your case and providing written instructions on how to file them. Usually, only spouses with no contested issues can easily have a DIY divorce, because they have reached an agreement on divorce-related matters. In any case, you can peruse online self-help resources such as the Minnesota State Law Library: Divorce Topics and Minnesota Judicial Branch: Self-Help Center (Divorce). Also, check out whether you are eligible for legal aid at Law Help Minnesota (legal aid and free divorce information).
What forms are required for an uncontested divorce in Benton County? To start an uncontested divorce in Benton County, you will need the following paperwork:
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (If you agree on all issues, fill out Joint Divorce Petition with/without Children)
Confidential Information Form
Confidential Financial Source Documents
Certificate of Dissolution
Default Scheduling Request
Financial Affidavit for Child Support
However, usually you get court forms in a package according to your family situation (contested – uncontested, with children – without children). Therefore, request the court forms from the court clerk according to your situation or search the court forms category online.
Can I file for legal separation in Benton County? Yes, legal separation is possible in Minnesota. This is an option for couples who would like to get separated but want to stay legally married for the sake of religious beliefs, health insurance benefits, and military benefits. The procedure for filing for legal separation at the local courthouse is similar to that used for a traditional divorce.
When is it allowed to remarry after a divorce? In Minnesota, there is no longer a waiting period after a divorce is finalized before the former spouses can get married again.
Divorce in Benton County online
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Here is how OnlineDivorce.com makes completing divorce papers easier:
We provide the full divorce packet required by the local court - clients do not need to drive to their local courthouse to get the blank forms or search for the right divorce forms online. In rare cases, local county forms can vary in color, paper material, size, or bar code, so they may need to be obtained directly from the county clerk's office.
We complete the necessary forms for clients based on their answers given in a simple guided online interview - clients do not need to understand family law or read through complicated instructions to figure out how to fill out the forms themselves.
We give detailed, easy to follow step-by-step instructions for filing a divorce with the court - so the client knows exactly what to do to get his/her divorce finalized.
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We save our clients time and money - if divorcing spouses agree regarding the terms of their divorce, they typically don’t have to pay thousands to a lawyer to handle their divorce forms and don't need to spend hours trying to do it all by themselves.
We guarantee 100% court approval on divorce papers prepared through our website or your money back - we have 20 years of experience in completing divorce forms so clients can be sure the court will accept their documents without issues.
With a contested divorce, spouses will have to go through numerous steps before the divorce is finalized, including:
prepare, file, and serve (deliver) the divorce petition
respond to the petition
interview and hire an attorney
pre-trial legal motions and hearings
settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys
if settlement fails, prepare for and complete a court trial
appeal, if you dispute the trial judge’s decision(s)
Prepare to pay exorbitant attorney's fees - at least $2000-3000 depending on your case’s complexity.
Hourly rates vary with different attorneys and average $250-300 per hour. In rural areas, attorneys
may charge less. However, if you live in a large city, local attorneys may charge up to $1000 per hour.
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