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Legal terminology for divorce can be overwhelming

Anyone in Minnesota who considers ending a marriage may find that learning some of the "language" that will be encountered can simplify the process. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution option where a divorce mediator helps the parties resolve issues. Collaboration is similar option where both parties, their attorneys and professional advisers agree to work together to reach a fair agreement. Litigation, a third option, is necessary when the parties cannot agree and need the court to decide unresolved issues.

The petition for dissolution is the formal filing for divorce in the appropriate court by the petitioner, who is the filing spouse. The other spouse is referred to as the respondent. Determining the financial and other assets of both spouses is done during a process known as discovery. Marital property -- assets that were acquired during the marriage or premarital assets that became commingled with martial assets -- must be identified for the property division process. These will be separate from any premarital property, which was owned by each spouse before the marriage or was received by one party during the marriage as a gift or by an inheritance. 

Spousal maintenance, also called alimony, typically involves a higher-earning spouse paying a monthly amount to a lower-earning spouse for a specified period of time. While spousal maintenance aims to maintain a spouse's lifestyle, child support covers expenses related to raising any children of the marriage. If the parties reach agreement on all material issues, a martial separation agreement is executed and, once approved by the court, becomes a legally binding contract that remains in effect after the judgment of divorce is granted.

A joint parenting agreement details the parenting responsibilities of both parties, including decision-making over education, religion, health and more, along with specified parenting time for each spouse. This may also include the agreed-upon procedures to follow in the event that future modifications to parenting time are necessary. While this all may seem daunting, or even overwhelming, the support and guidance of an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney every step of the way can ease the process significantly.

Source: bdfllc.com, "Divorce 101: Understanding the "Language" of Divorce", Accessed on April 12, 2018

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