Filing for Divorce in Minnesota

divorce papers and wedding bands

Deciding  to file for divorce is a big step.  Putting that decision into action can be intimidating. Even with the  help of an experienced attorney in a Minnesota divorce, it is important to understand the steps of the process. Divorce can be overwhelming and make your life feel out of control.  Knowing what to expect can help you get on your feet again.

Minnesota Divorce Basics

First, you need to meet the residency eligibility requirement.  Either you, your spouse, or both must have lived in Minnesota for a minimum of 180 days (6 months) prior to filing for divorce. The divorce must be filed in the county in which one spouse resides.

Second, you need to determine the grounds or basis for the divorce.  Because Minnesota is a “no-fault divorce” state, you do not need to prove that your spouse did anything wrong (such as adultery) to file for or obtain a divorce. The vast majority of divorces are filed on the basis of “irreconcilable differences.”  That does not mean fault is always irrelevant. Fault on the part of one spouse may qualify the other for a higher percentage of the marital property. If the fault is related to issues like domestic abuse or substance abuse, it may impact child custody and parenting time.

Types of Divorce in Minnesota

The type of divorce sought determines your next steps. Is the divorce contested or uncontested? In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will have agreed on all the issues, including custody and parenting time, spousal maintenance, child support, and division of property. A contested divorce, on the other hand, means that you have not reached agreement on some or all issues.  You may begin the divorce process thinking you are in agreement and discover you are not. Likewise, you might begin with some contested issues, then reach resolution.

Uncontested Divorce

Within the category of “uncontested divorce” in Minnesota, Dissolution by Joint Petition, applies to couples agreeing on all issues, but having minor children and/or assets and debts exceeding a certain minimal amount. The Joint Petition is signed by both spouses and submitted to the court with their settlement agreement. If there are no minor children, parties may be able to finalize their divorce without a hearing.

Summary Dissolution of Marriage is even more streamlined.  This divorce process is for couples with no minor children, a marriage of less than eight years’ duration, no history of domestic abuse, no joint property, and very limited assets and debts. These  property limits include less than $25,000 marital property, and/or $25,000 in separate property.

Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce proceeding, rather than the spouses filing a joint petition, one spouse serves and files a Summons and Petition for Divorce. The Petition lays out basic facts about the marriage, asks the court to order the divorce itself, and depending on the circumstances, requests an order dealing with child custody and parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, and division of marital property. The summons, describing the legal action, restrains both spouses from taking certain actions while the divorce is pending and must be served and filed with the Petition.

The spouse who filed for divorce must also file a proof of service to show that the other spouse has received the Summons and Petition, and financial disclosure forms outlining income and monthly expenses. The parties will be given a date for their first court proceeding.

If a party asks the court for temporary child support or spousal maintenance while the divorce is pending, or for any other type of restraining order against the other spouse, the court will consider and may grant the request.  The court will also encourage settlement of the case by engaging in some sort of mediation or other third-party dispute resolution process. After mediation or other dispute resolution process, if the parties are still unable to settle, the case will be scheduled for a pre-trial hearing and finally, a trial date.  Most divorces eventually settle before a trial is necessary.

Cost to File for a Minnesota Divorce

Regardless of the type of divorce you pursue, you will have to pay a filing fee to the court. Filing fees may vary, but typically total $417.00. You may also have to pay fees for service of the Summons and Petition, typically adding up to around $50.00 to $75.00. 

After those initial expenses, your primary cost will be your attorney fees, which will vary depending on the attorney with whom you work and the number of hours they must put into the case.

If you have questions about filing for divorce in Minnesota, the cost of divorce in Minnesota, or any related issues, we invite you to contact Fremstad Law to schedule a consultation.