How Do You Prepare for a Minnesota Divorce Settlement Meeting?

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If you have a divorce attorney, then you may rely upon your attorney to prepare you and to acquire all the information that you need.  If you mediate your Minnesota divorce by yourself, however, then get organized

I. Create and organize a binder with all the documents and written information that you need.

  • Have all the court papers in one section and order them by date with the most recent first;
  • Do the same for all correspondence and important e-mails;
  • Do the same for all documents.

II. What documents should you bring to a Minnesota Divorce Mediation?

A. Assets

  • NADA or Bluebook values on cars, boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, trailers, campers and RVs or any other equipment;
  • The most recent statements for all financial accounts showing what may be owed on any of the assets;
  • The most recent statements for all checking and savings accounts;
  • The most recent statements for all retirement assets, including, pensions, 401(k), 403(b), IRAs, and any other retirement accounts;
  • Documents evidencing any stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or certificates of deposit and the balances;
  • Real Property documents, including, property tax statements, any appraisals, any settlement/escrow papers, mortgage statement showing balance owed, any equity line or second mortgage information inclusive of balances owed; the foregoing includes all real property not just the homestead;
  • Bring evidence via documents of any and all assets and the current values.

B. Liabilities

The division and allocation of liabilities is part of a Minnesota divorce proceeding and settlement.  Bring the following documents with you to mediation as part of your binder.

  • The most recent statements showing the balance owed for all credit cards, installment contracts, and auto loans;
  • If you dispute that a debt is a joint obligation, then get copies of all statements demonstrating the charges; arguments can be made that gambling debts on a credit card are not marital;
  • All information related to any student loans and current balances including any that you or your spouse may have co-signed  or assumed for the children;
  • Any documents related, referring to or having to do with any current debt owed by you or by your spouse, including any past federal or state taxes or other tax obligation or any debts owed to family or friends.
  • Assignment of liabilities is of particular importance as is the indemnification to the party who is not paying the debt.

C. Income and Expenses

  • Develop a detailed budget for yourself and a separate budget for you when you have the children in your care; be specific,  and do not exaggerate;
  • Bring at least six months worth of income information like pay-stubs or other documents demonstrating your monthly gross and net ( after taxes) income.

D.  Custody, Parenting Time, and Child Support Financials

  • It is highly unlikely that joint legal custody will be an issue; Minnesota Courts are loath to award sole legal custody to any one parent in a Minnesota divorce situation involving children;
  • You should bring an outline of your points of argument and facts that support your custody position; if you have a custody study, then bring it as well; do your research on Minnesota custody and parenting time statutes;
  • Child support in Minnesota is based upon a shared income model you can go online and estimate the child support before mediation to calculate go to Minnesota Child Support Calculator;
  • Healthcare and dental insurance is calculated in the child support; if you carry the insurance, then bring proof of the monthly premiums.  The premiums will be shared by both parents on a pro-rata basis, but payment of premiums is open to negotiation ;
  • Uninsured healthcare expenses are usually pro-rated according to the parental income share determined by the Minnesota child support calculator.  Payment of these items, however, is also open to negotiation. For example, both parties may agree to pay half of all uninsured healthcare expenses for the children.
  • School activities and other school related expenses are open for negotiation as is summer-time expenses for activities.
  • Day-care is negotiable in terms of payment as well. School activities and summer-time activity costs are not part of a child support calculation.
  • Minnesota Courts can allocate the tax dependency exemption for children under a new statute, but allocation of an exemption or exemptions is also open to negotiation. A pre-settlement meeting with your tax person would be beneficial because there are other tax credits to consider relative to the children.

E.   What about spousal maintenance in a Minnesota divorce?

If you have a divorce that involves spousal maintenance, then I strongly recommend you to seek counsel.  Parties can agree to waive or limit spousal maintenance payable to one another, but there is specific requirement language ( called a Karon waiver)  that must be in every Minnesota divorce decree for the waiver or limit to be valid and enforceable.  Better to be safe in this area and at least seek the advice of an attorney.

F. How Do We Split the Retirement in a Minnesota Divorce?

Dividing retirements is another area where it is best to consult with an attorney.  Dividing retirements requires a particular post-decree order that includes specific language.  Many divorced parties forget to follow-up on the division of a retirement, which can complicate matters down the road.

G. How Do We Split the Homestead in a Minnesota Divorce?

Real property in a Minnesota divorce can be sold or one party can keep it and pay out half of the equity to the other party.  Securing the pay-out is important.  Removing a party’s name from the mortgage is crucial.  Transferring title is necessary.  If a lien  secures the pay-out, then that security language must be in the decree as well as in the quit claim deed and the summary real estate disposition.

H. What If We have Separate Property in a Minnesota Divorce?

Be ready to prove your separate property interest with documentation.  The burden of proof is on the party who is claiming the separate non-marital property.

In short, you must be as ready for mediation as you would be if you were going to trial in a Minnesota divorce.   There are attorneys who will counsel you and coach you in mediation. An attorney can help you in preparation; or, an attorney can suggest documents to bring; and, an attorney can recommend resources.

Some issues like complex custody matters or spousal maintenance or division of a business are better suited to representation by an attorney of your choice.  Completing a divorce is not as simple as checking boxes.  You need to be knowledgeable about your rights and the long term impact of any decision that you make.

Better to pay a small fee now for attorney help as you go along in your process,  then have to pay a large fee down the road to try to amend a divorce decree.  Minnesota divorce property awards cannot be amended after the divorce unless fraudulent.  A Karon wavier in which one or both parties waive or limit spousal maintenance cannot be reversed if the Karon is property drafted.

There are some mine-fields out there for any one attempting to mediate a Minnesota divorce.  Be prepared, but know when to get counsel and advice. You can make the best decisions when you have the best information.

If you like this post, I would love it if you would hit the “subscribe” button so that I may continue to share a variety of family law topics with you.  Please do share this post via the share buttons at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Divorce, Father’s Rights, Mother’s Rights, Family Lawyer, Family Court Lawyer and Mediation Coach

Call me at (320) 492-3606 or e-mail me via

Copyright 2015

About Kate Willmore, Esq.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, divorce, custody and family attorney brings over 25 years experience to every client's legal matter. *** Licensed in Minnesota and in California

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