The Summons and Petition initiate the divorce proceeding. In Minnesota, the Summons orders you to appear before a court.
Filing an Answer in Minnesota divorce
The Summons also requires you to file an Answer within 30 days after service of the document. The Answer sets forth your response to the Petition and often includes a Counter-Petition for, as an example, spousal maintenance, custody, or the division of specific assets. In the event an Answer is not served/filed within 30 days, the responding party failing to file/serve an Answer may be in default and the petitioning party may receive the relief he or she had petitioned for in its entirety.
Restraining use of assets
The Summons is important because it provides for restraining provisions. The Summons specifically provides “[n]either party may dispose of any assets except (a) for the necessities of life or for the necessary generation of income or preservation of assets.” Accordingly, spouses are restrained from liquidating their retirement accounts and taking a trip to Las Vegas or transferring assets out of their name in contemplation of a divorce proceeding.
Restraining the harassment of the other party/Orders for Protection
The Summons restrains both parties from harassing the other. In the event domestic abuse has occurred which includes physical assault, sexual assault, or if one party feels they are in imminent fear for their personal safety, an Order for Protection may be petitioned for. While an Order for Protection proceeding is a completely different proceeding, it is not uncommon for an Order for Protection to be in place during or before a divorce proceeding is initiated.
Restraining taking either party off of insurance
The Summons further restrains either party from modifying or discontinuing insurance for the benefit of either party. This includes but is not limited to medical, dental, automobile, and life insurance.
Violating the restraining provisions
The Summons specifically states in bold font “IF YOU VIOLATE ANY OF THESE PROVISIONS, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO SANCTIONS BY THE COURT.” Sanctions may include monetary fines and in some rare cases imprisonment. Both parties are well served to adhere to the restraining provisions as violating the restraining provisions may put you on the bad side of the judge who will ultimately determine spousal maintenance, division of assets, custody, parenting time, etc.
Working with a top Minnesota Divorce Attorney
If you are served with a Summons and Petition for the dissolution of marriage, it is highly recommended you speak with an attorney in order to ensure your rights are protected. The divorce attorneys at Gilbert Alden PLLC are dedicated advocates and offer free consultations relating to your divorce proceeding. Contact us to setup a consultation or reach us at 612-564-3622.