Minneapolis Divorce Attorney

Serving Clients in Hennepin, Anoka, Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Scott & Carver Counties

Brian Sobol of Sobol Family Law learned as an undergraduate student in psychology that next to the death of a spouse, parent, or child, nothing is more emotional than divorce. Brian understands the emotions you are going through, but more often than not, emotions result in high conflict, and high conflict fuels large legal bills. 

Brian is pragmatic and understands that trying to manage emotions and expectations will help you achieve an equitable result without an exorbitant cost. At the same time, when settlement is not possible, Brian is uniquely skilled to litigate your interests, having achieved recognition as one of the top divorce attorneys in Minnesota, with a national reputation – certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in Family Law; rated by Chambers & Partners Band 1 – Family/Matrimonial: High Net Worth Minnesota; and was invited in 2014 to become a Diplomate in the American College of Family Trial Lawyers, a by invitation only group of 100 of the top family law trial lawyers in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Apart from custody and parenting time, which is much more subjective, divorce itself is essentially math – valuing your assets and cash flow, analyzing any non-marital claims, analyzing your spending and lifestyle, and creating balance sheets to equitably divide your estate. Few have the grasp and understanding of the mathematics of divorce as does Brian. He has been involved in valuations and division of marital estates as large as nine figures but is equally adept at smaller estates. He had been involved in determining the valuation and division of large national and international businesses and has substantial experience with startup venture capital entities – a challenge especially early in the start-up life of a company perhaps years away from becoming a marketable venture. He has also created law in tracing non-marital claims.

Below is a brief summary of the divorce process in Minnesota. Contact Brian for a more detailed discussion of how the divorce laws in Minnesota impact the unique facts of your life, estate, income, and lifestyle. Brian Sobol has over 38 years of experience in successfully guiding clients through this difficult and sometimes confusing process. As you will learn, it is always preferable to be the master of your own domain and to reach compromise settlements of your disputes with your spouse. Statistics show that parties who settle their disputes themselves are far less likely to return to court with future disputes with their former spouse than those who go to trial and have their issues determined by a judge. 

Whichever path you must follow, Brian Sobol will be there to help you, guide you, and fight for your rights. Call (866) 484-4079 or fill out an online contact form to learn more from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer in Minneapolis.

Award-Winning Representation
Brian is the only lawyer so ranked in Minnesota who is also a diplomate in the American College of Family Trial Lawyers, a by-invitation only group of 100 of the top family trial lawyers in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an equally select group of the top family lawyers in the nation. Get his experience on your side today.

No Fault Divorce

In Minnesota, Marriage Dissolution proceedings, or divorces, are viewed as "no fault" proceedings. This means that a spouse does not have to prove the other spouse was at fault or did something wrong to get divorced. Either spouse may commence a divorce action by simply alleging that there has been "an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage relationship" - in other words, in their opinion, the marriage is dead and there is no chance of reconciliation. The “fault” or conduct of any party, absent conduct dissipating assets in anticipation of divorce, is not relevant to a divorce proceeding in Minnesota.

Commencement of the Divorce Action

Once a decision to start a divorce action is made, one party will serve two documents, one titled "summons" and the other titled "petition". The person starting the action is referred to as the petitioner; the other party will thereafter be referred to as the respondent. Occasionally, however, in very amicable divorces the parties may agree to act as "co-petitioners." A petition traditionally is served by having a person other than the petitioner hand a copy of the petition to the respondent. Many times today, however, service is accomplished by agreement of the parties alternatively, with the respondent signing a document acknowledging that they have been served.

Summons & Petition

The summons is a legal notice that a divorce action has been commenced, advising of the time to respond to the petition with an answer, which is required to be filed within thirty days by the respondent, and containing certain restraining orders prohibiting the disposition of assets or the cancelation of insurance pending further order of the court. The petition itself typically follows a simple format, which is not designed to argue your case in detail, but rather only provides "notice" to the other side of the very basic facts of the case, such as the parties’ names and ages, the children’s names and ages, the date of marriage, a very basic summary of known assets and a request for relief, or what the petitioner wants the court ultimately to do, including the request to dissolve the marriage. 

Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC)

In most counties in Minnesota, after the petition is filed, a judicial officer is assigned (in several counties including Hennepin and Ramsey this officer, either a judge or referee, will preside over your entire case through settlement or trial) and an Initial Case Management Conference is scheduled within three to four weeks. The ICMC is a brief conference of a half hour or less, giving you the opportunity to meet your judicial officer, and giving the court the opportunity to briefly discuss the issues of the case, with a strong emphasis on encouraging the parties to utilize the many alternative dispute resolution processes available, such as Social and Financial Early Neutral Evaluations, with the goal of helping you economically resolving the issues in your divorce.

Immediate Issues: Temporary Hearings

In the past, many parties participated in temporary hearings, with each side submitting lengthy affidavits, to resolve issues such as temporary custody, temporary possession of the home, and temporary maintenance and child support. Today, more often than not, the parties are able to resolve many of these issues themselves without litigation. If they cannot, most ICMC orders provide for an informal process of short affidavits and letter arguments to the court, which will then issue a temporary order as to these issues. Occasionally, upon request when complex issues are presented, the court may grant a formal temporary hearing.

Early Neutral Evaluations

Many counties in Minnesota now ask the parties to consider early neutral evaluations, either Social (SENE’s) or Financial (FENE’s). These processes expedite the mediation of custody, parenting, and financial issues. SENE’s are a process involving the retention of a gender-neutral panel of a male and female custody evaluator to quickly hear the parties’ positions as to custody and parenting time, render an opinion as to an expected determination of custody and parenting, were the parties to invest four to six months in a full evaluation, and then allows the parties upon hearing this feedback to try to agree as to custody and parenting time. Approximately 70% of parents participating in this program will successfully resolve the issues of custody and parenting time.

FENE’s involve selecting a financial neutral, usually an accountant. The neutral will then control discovery, requesting financial information from each party, reviewing that information, and determining which other information, such as appraisals of real estate, is needed. The financial neutral may themselves value business interests or may propose another neutral to value business interests. The financial neutral will also consider or will trace themselves non-marital claims. The financial neutral will then prepare a balance sheet and cash flow schedules, and will either themselves meet with the parties once or over several sessions to try to reach a settlement agreement, or may work with another mediator and the parties. 

Both of these processes are fairly informal, take place either by Zoom or in the neutral’s office, and are very effective methods of cost-effectively resolving your social and financial issues.


Prior to most of the forgoing processes, either the neutrals or the attorneys will engage in what is known as discovery, to assure that all assets, debt, and income have been fully disclosed, identified or valued. This is a process in which the lawyers may utilize numerous techniques for obtaining the financial information necessary to fairly identify and value all income and assets. The lawyers may serve "Interrogatories" and "Requests for Production of Documents” which are formal questions and requests for financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, financial statements, and other information, which must be answered and sworn to under oath, within thirty days. The attorneys may also notice the depositions of the parties themselves, or other people who may have relevant information, such as bankers and business associates. At a deposition, the witness is sworn under oath, and the attorneys ask questions of the witnesses, which testimony is preserved in writing by a court reporter. The attorneys may also employ experts, such as "vocational evaluators", in the event it is alleged that a spouse who has not been working or who has only been working part-time, is able to earn income to contribute to their support. They may also employ accountants or other business valuation experts to appraise family-owned or closely-held businesses. They may also employ other experts to appraise other assets such as real property and personal property, such as furnishings, jewelry, and artwork.


Read What Satisfied Clients Say About Working with Brian
    “I cannot say enough as to the caring and zealous help Brian gave to me and my family.”
    “Brian was tenacious in helping me protect my children and was able to uncover our finances to allow us to ultimately reach a fair division of our property and a fair award of support for me and my children.”
    - Megan C.
    “Brian, is not just a lawyer but a miracle worker as well.”
    “His work is nothing but extraordinary. What he did for my friend was impossible to even think could be done. Brian did what he would do for his own family.”
    - Yelena B.
    “Brian has guided my wife and I, plus extended family members, through some challenging times.”
    “His knowledge in a variety of legal aspects is unparalleled. We feel fortunate to have his representation.”
    - Jeff
    “Brian was efficient, respectful, knowledgeable, personable and wonderful.”
    “He made the process of the ordeal as good as it could have been, including the outcome. I would recommend Brian to anyone, who wants an exceptional professional and advocate to represent them in a legal matter.”
    - Former Client
    “Brian was brilliant.”
    “After Brian negotiated my divorce settlement, my ex-husband, surprisingly, delivered the highest compliment, stating "Brian was brilliant."”
    - Barbara
    “It was tough, but Brian met all of my expectations.”
    “During the past three years Brian helped me through a bitterly contested family law matter.”
    - David
    “I highly recommend Brian Sobol for contentious custody cases especially when opposing counsel is outrageous.”
    “Brian Sobol is methodical in his approach. It takes a long time to move through the family court process but I can sit back now and relax. A highly skilled professional will argue the law and fight for me to see my kids.”
    - Julie M.
    “He is the best lawyer I ever could have been blessed with.”
    “I know I won't have need of for Mr. Sobol again. If I did though...Brian Sobol would be the person I would have defend me!”
    - Tammy G.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

If you do not opt for early neutral evaluation, you will be required in almost all counties to attempt early in the process some form of alternative dispute resolution. This will usually be scheduled after discovery is completed. ADR more often than not takes the form of "mediation" which is a process in which a neutral third party, typically an attorney trained in mediation, will attempt to assist the parties in reaching their own compromise settlement of some or all issues between the parties. The mediator does not make decisions, but rather facilitates a discussion between the parties (sometimes alone and sometimes with the assistance of counsel) aimed at reaching a settlement of your issues. The mediation process is confidential, and if you are not successful in reaching a mediated settlement, the judicial officer will never learn what positions either party took in mediation. As part of the mediation process, the mediator will request both parties provide an accurate summary of income, assets, and liabilities. It is recognized that sometimes, one party controls some or all of this information, and skilled mediators attempt to assure that there is a full and fair disclosure of financial information and a full and fair discussion of the issues.

Settlement Discussions & Pretrial

After discovery is completed, and many times prior to mediation, but sometimes later in the proceedings if mediation has not been successful, the attorneys will typically work with you to formulate a settlement proposal prior to trial, which is presented to the other side, either as part of a settlement meeting at one of the attorney's offices, or simply through a letter sent to the other lawyer. The attorneys will prepare a balance sheet summarizing your assets and liabilities. In Minnesota, the law requires an "Equitable Division of Property". While this does not as a rule require an equal division of property, and many factors are considered, typically, especially following a long-term marriage, and equitable division will require mathematically a fairly equal division of property. Settlement discussions will also involve proposals as to custody/parenting time, child support, and spousal maintenance, if any of these issues remain unresolved prior to trial.

Ultimately, if the parties cannot resolve some or all issues involving parenting, property valuation or division, or income allocation through child support and maintenance, the court will schedule one last "pre-trial" to attempt to facilitate a settlement. If unsuccessful, the matter will be set for trial.


While upwards of 95% of all cases settle short of trial, the most expensive and acrimonious manner of resolving your differences with your spouse is through a formal trial - and perhaps nowhere is the retention of skilled counsel more important.

Trial involves extensive study of all facts and evidence relevant to your case, extensive preparation of witnesses for testimony, extensive preparation to conduct examination (questioning) of witnesses, and extensive preparation of exhibits summarizing your position as to the evidence, hopefully in a form understandable and convincing to the trial judge, strategy as to what witnesses will be called and in what order, as well as the actual trial examination of witnesses, which often, especially when "cross-examining" opposing witnesses, requires the lawyer to think on their feet, and prepare questions on the spot as they hear evasive or unexpected answers.

Post Trial & Appeal

Following trial and final written submissions, the judicial officer is allowed up to ninety days to issue written "Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment and Judgment and Decree" which is the legal document dissolving your marriage and deciding all issues involving your children, property division, child support, spousal maintenance and attorney fees. After the issuance of the Judgment and Decree, Minnesota Law has a set procedure and time limit to allow either party to ask the court to correct any perceived or actual errors; to argue to the court to change its decision; or, to argue that based on alleged errors, a new trial should take place. Although a new trial is rarely granted, it is not uncommon, especially when presented with complex issues, for the Court to slightly amend its decision following the original judgment and decree.

Thereafter, if either party is still dissatisfied with the result, they may "appeal" the lower court ruling to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Such appeals are of right, and take place before a three judge panel, after extensive briefing and oral argument to the Court of Appeals. This process may take upwards of a year after the trial court's final decision. The Court of Appeals may affirm all decisions outright, reverse all decisions outright, or may affirm some parts of the decree while reversing others. If a party thereafter is dissatisfied with a ruling of the Court of Appeals, they may seek discretionary review by the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, however, denies review of most cases and only chooses to hear a few family law cases each year. Those cases selected for review typically involve novel factual or legal issues.

Brian Sobol is a skilled Minneapolis divorce attorney who can assist you through this challenging experience. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling Sobol Family Law at (866) 484-4079 or filling out an online contact form.