Pagel Law Office                                                                        320-963-3218
A General Practice Law Firm Focused on Family Law and Mediation Services

FAQ & Helpful Links



Q: How do I start a divorce?

A: A divorce is started with the service of pleadings called a Summons and a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

Q: What does "no - fault" divorce mean?

A: Minnesota is a no fault divorce state. The only grounds for a divorce is that there has been an irretreivable breakdown of the marriage relationship.

Q: How long does a divorce take?

A: How long a divorce takes depends on a variety of factors including whether there are minor children, how much property or debt is involved, how well the parties can agree, etc. Generally a divorce takes at least 3 months with an average of 6 to 9 months. However, it is not uncommon for a divorce action to last at least 1 year or more.


Q: What is legal custody?

A: Legal custody has to do with decision making regarding the children's upbringing - where the kids go to school, what religion they are raised, what medical procedures occur, etc.

Q: What is physical custody?

A: Physical custody has to do with where the child lives and who handles the day to day care for the child.

Q: What does sole legal custody mean?

A: Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the authority to make the decisions regarding the children's school, religion, health care, etc.

Q: What does joint legal custody mean?

A: Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal authority to make the decisions regarding the children's school, religion, health care, etc. If the parents cannot agree, the Court decides for them.

Q: What does sole physical custody mean?

A: Sole physical custody means the children reside primarily with one parent. The other parent typically has parenting time with the children.

Q: What does joint physical custody mean?

A: Joint physical custody means the children reside with both parents and both parents share the day to day care of the children. In joint physical custody, the children usually spend close to equal time with each parent.

Q: Is there a difference between "visitation" and "parenting time"?

A: No. The term visitation has been replaced by the term parenting time. However, both terms are still used and they mean the same thing.


Q: Is child support based on gross income or net income?

A: Child support is based on gross income (before taxes).

Q: Does the Court look at just my income?

A: No. Child support is calculated based on both parties' gross income.

Q: How is child support determined?

A: Child support is based on both parties' gross income (before taxes) and is dependent upon the amount of parenting time each parent has with the children. Guideline child support is determined by entering each parent's gross income into a calculator which is availble on the Department of Human Services's website. Other factors must also be entered including whether either party has other children, the amount of parenting time each parent has, the premiums for medical and dental insurance, the amount of child care expenses (if any), etc. The calculator can be found at You can click on the underlined term to see its definition.

Q: What is PICS?

A: PICS stands for Parental Income for Determining Child Support.

DISCLAIMER: This site and the information contained in this site is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice with respect to your individual situation and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding your particular situation, please contact the office.

Helpful Links

Minnesota Statutes:

Minnesota Child Support Calculator:

Minnesota Courts Home Page (Court Forms and Calendars)

Access to Court Records:

IRS Form 8332 - Dependency Exemption:

Parent's Consent to Passport for Minor Child Form and Information:

Wright County:

Stearns County:

Meeker County:

Sherburne County:

Anoka County:

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