To “bring a motion” in a Minnesota family law proceeding, means you are asking the court to take action on one, or several disputed issues. A motion for temporary relief, is a motion brought while the divorce (or other family law proceeding) is still pending, prior to the actual finalization of the divorce. In such a motion, you are asking the court to issue an order on temporary issues (such as child custody/parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, possession of a home, etc.) until such time that the issues are resolved on a permanent basis through an agreement by and between the parties (via mediation, Early Neutral Evaluations or otherwise), or through an actual court trial. Motions for temporary relief have become less frequent and less necessary since the inception of the ICMC process in most Minnesota counties.

A “post-decree” motion, is a motion brought after the finalization of the divorce or other family law proceeding; it is a motion brought after the filing of the divorce decree, or Judgment and Decree (hence “post-decree”). Post-decree motions frequently involve a request to modify custody, parenting time, child support or spousal maintenance. Post-decree motions are possible, because the court retains jurisdiction to modify custody, parenting time and child support until such time that the minor children attain the age of majority. Therefore, even though the matter has been resolved on a permanent basis, if there is a change in circumstances of the parties or children, or a change in the parties' financial circumstances, the court has the authority to modify the terms of the “permanent” order. Under certain circumstances, the court also retains the authority to modify a spousal maintenance award in a permanent order (when there is no valid “Karon Waiver”).

There are strict timelines for serving motions (and supporting affidavits, memorandums and other supporting documents) on the other party, and filing such documents with the court. The “moving party” must serve and file the motion no later than fourteen days prior to the motion hearing (with an additional three days added, if the service is by mail). If the other party wishes to raise new issues, that party must serve and file his or her motion and supporting documents no later than ten days prior to the hearing (with an additional three days added, if the service is by mail). If the other party is simply responding to the initial motion without raising new issues, the responsive motion is due five days prior to the hearing, or eight days prior, if by mail. There are also mandatory motion filing fees that the court charges to file either a motion for temporary relief or a post-decree motion. A judge has up to ninety days to issue an order following a motion hearing.

The attorneys at Blahnik, Prchal & Stoll frequently represent clients in motions for temporary relief and in post-decree motions. The firm will draft, file and serve all the necessary motion documents, and will argue the merits of the motion at the motion hearing. There is no testimony taken at a motion hearing (unless expressly requested beforehand by one of the attorneys, which is very infrequent).