A Minnesota divorce is not complete until three primary components are finalized: property division, financial support, and a parenting plan. Each of these issues requires the analysis of a number of different factors. Because Minnesota requires the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, many parties participate in divorce mediation.During Minnesota divorce mediation, parties negotiate how they will divide their assets and debts, address alimony/spousal maintenance (if applicable) and if minor children are involved, determine child support and discuss parenting arrangements.

Less than 3% of Minnesota divorces go to trial; the vast majority of Minnesota divorces are settled out of court, many are settled through mediation. As a neutral, the mediator, helps parties understand the differences in their positions and works with them to develop a mutually agreeable outcome. The mediator may offer insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position and suggest creative alternatives. In many cases, hearing an objective view of the case is sufficient to encourage the parties to reach settlement.

Property division requires full disclosure of all assets and debts acquired both before and during the marriage. Each asset and debt must be identified, valued, and distributed between the parties.Minnesota requires an equitable distribution of all marital assets and debts, which not to say that all assets and debts must be divided equally. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” property settlement guideline. The mediator facilitates negotiations of the property division and helps the parties be creative in how they craft their unique settlement.

Financial support includes child support and spousal maintenance/alimony. Child support is paid to the parent with the higher percentage of parenting time and/or lower income. The purpose of child support is to ensure that the children’s need continue to be met regardless of where they are residing. In Minnesota is possible to deviate from child support guidelines; however, child support may not be permanently waived by either parent. Spousal maintenance(or alimony) is money paid from one spouse to the other if a spouse is not financially self-supporting. There is no set guideline for determining spousal support in Minnesota. Spousal support may be temporary or permanent and is based on many factors including: length of marriage, need, ability to earn and ability to pay. Contrary to popular belief, child support and/or spousal maintenance are not always paid from a man to a woman – depending on the determining factors,woman may owe child support and/or spousal maintenance to the man.

Parenting plans lay out how custody and parenting time will be divided between the parties. Holiday schedules, parenting time, vacations, school placement, extra-curricular activities and much more should be addressed in a detailed parenting plan. When parents take the time and to create a detailed parenting plan they are less likely to have future disputes over issues involving the children.

In divorce mediation, property division, financial support and parenting plans are often addressed in separate sessions. As each topic may also influence another, a divorce settlement is considered complete when all agreements have been documented in the legal paperwork that will be filed with the court.