Anoka County is part of the larger Tenth Judicial District. If you find yourself involved in a family law matter (whether divorce, custody, child support, or otherwise) in Anoka County, here is the basic information you’ll need to know.
Location of the Anoka County Courthouse
The Anoka County Courthouse is located at 325 East Main Street, Anoka, Minnesota 55303. The building is located right in the heart of Anoka, close to many local businesses.
The Anoka County Courthouse is a central location for all types of cases, including family cases, criminal cases, and other civil matters. The courthouse is located in the same building as many other governmental agencies and the jail.
Parking in Anoka
There is a parking ramp located on the north side of the building, off Van Buren Street. Street parking is also located around the courthouse. Just be careful, as they are generally only 1-2 hour spots and people are regularly ticketed.
There is a three-hour lot located just south of the courthouse off South 3rd Avenue. This lot offers free parking. An additional ramp is located on the corner of Jackson Street and North 2nd Avenue.
Navigating the Anoka County Courthouse
Good luck! The Anoka County Courthouse is not easily navigated if you are unfamiliar with the building. Through the years, several additions have been built onto the original structure, causing a maze-like experience.
The main entrance to the building is located on North 3rd Avenue. Regardless of the door that you enter the building, you will see signs directing you to the courthouse that will lead you to security.
Once you get through security, continue moving forward and you will see three monitors. Find your name on the monitors and you will see which courtroom your matter will be heard. They recently renumbered the courtrooms identifying them as West (W), Central (C), and East (E).
Family court matters, not including Juvenile matters, are generally heard in the Central or West courthouse. To get to courtrooms located on the West side of the courthouse, turn around. An elevator bank is located directly behind security.
Anoka County Judges
Generally speaking, when your family law case is filed with the Anoka County Court, you will be assigned a court file number and a particular judge. That judge will preside over each hearing scheduled under that particular court file number – even for matters that arise after your initial divorce or custody action is completed.
There are seventeen judges in Anoka County. Judges are assigned files on a rotating basis. Unlike other counties, Judges in Anoka County are responsible for files addressing an array of legal issues including criminal, family, or other civil matters. Generally, Judges’ calendars are blocked for certain types of cases for one-week periods of time. Most often, your hearing will be scheduled at the same time as other family court matters.
Family Court Procedure in Anoka County
In Anoka County, after a divorce case has been filed, Court Administration will automatically schedule an Initial Case Management Conference – you may hear this referred to as an “ICMC.” Unlike other counties, Anoka County will only automatically schedule the ICMC on divorce files. Paternity and Custody files do not automatically get scheduled for and ICMC, the parties must request it.
The ICMC will likely be your first hearing before “a” Judge. In Anoka County, ICMCs are scheduled before a judge who is assigned to handle ICMCs that day. This is not likely the judge that your case is assigned to.
This hearing involves a brief meeting with a judge, where your Anoka county divorce lawyer will explain to the issues of your case that have not yet been resolved and you will have the option of entering into the Early Neutral Evaluation Program (ENE).
The judge presiding over your ICMC will likely encourage the parties to try and settle their case outside of court. The judge will likely explain to the parties all the reasons why the Early Neutral Evaluation program, or other form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), is a better way to handle your family law dispute.
The Anoka County ENE program offers both a Custody and Parenting Time ENE (CPENE) and a Financial ENE (FENE). If you decide to utilize one or both of these programs, an ENE coordinator will likely be available to assist you in scheduling you ENE(s) with the evaluators. Once scheduled, the court will issue an order, ordering the parties to attend the ENE and outlining the fees.
The ENE process is completely voluntary and both parties must agree to participate in the program. If you elect not to participate in the ENE process, the next step in your case may be to either attend mediation privately, or, attend a temporary motion hearing if there are immediate disputes that need to be resolved.
Anoka County Culture and Nuances
Anoka County has the reputation for being more traditional, or conservative, in their approach to family law issues. We have had many clients tell us that they have been told that Anoka County “hates” joint physical custody. We’ve also heard that Anoka County is a “mother’s” county – meaning judges tend to be biased toward mothers in custody and parenting time disputes.
In our experience, some Anoka County judges do take a more cautious approach when it comes to joint physical custody and equal parenting time schedules. We would not agree that Anoka County “hates” joint physical custody. Many judges simply want to ensure that joint physical custody is actually what is in the best interest of the children, and not parents agreeing to a particular schedule because they feel that is “fair.”
Many agreements where parties have agreed to joint physical custody and an equal parenting time schedule have been approved by judges in Anoka County. Many judges like to see that parties have exercised these equal access parenting time schedules for a period of time and that the children are doing well.
In some cases, a judge may request the parties participate in a Joint Physical Custody Assessment through Anoka County. For the assessment, both parties meet with a neutral evaluator, assigned by the court. After interviewing parents and the children, the evaluator reports back to the judge on whether or not they believe joint physical custody is in the best interest of the children. The judge uses this information in deciding whether to award joint physical custody and/or and equal parenting time schedule.
Support and Information for Divorce in Anoka County
- List of Marriage Counseling Therapists in Anoka County. Marriage counseling can help repair relationships headed towards a divorce, and therapy can also help divorcing couples separate honorably and with minimal drama and hard feelings.
- Divorce Support Groups in the Anoka Area. Whether you’re contemplating divorce, going through the process or recovering from a complex, emotional separation, these support groups can provide empathy and social support to help you cope with your situation.
- Financial Assistance for Needy Families in Anoka County. Financial troubles are a leading cause of divorce; these resources may provide the knowledge or direct support you need to stabilize your family’s financial situation.
Additional Legal Resources
- Minnesota Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) Self Help Guide. This book provides a basic introduction to Minnesota divorce law and explains the typical proceedings of a divorce case.
- “Getting a Divorce” Guide to Minnesota Dissolution of Marriage Law. This overviews important concepts, definitions and proceedings.
- Guide to Credit Issues in Divorce. This guide is courtesy of University of Minnesota Extension.