How do you get a Divorce in Minnesota?

Divorce Process - Ending Marriage
A Divorce Ends the Marriage

How do you get a Divorce in Minnesota: Starting

Anyone who is married can get a divorce.  Minnesota is what’s known as a “no fault” divorce state.  This means that one spouse does not have to claim the other did anything wrong (like commit adultery or abuse) in order to be granted a divorce.

A divorce is started when two legal documents, and summons and petition, are drafted by one spouse and served on the other spouse (Minn. Stat. 518.09).  This starts the divorce process.  It includes what the initiating spouse states as facts about the marriage.  It also lists what that spouse wants the Judge to do when he or she grants the divorce.

The other spouse then files and serves an “answer” which is another legal document.  This includes what the other spouse requests that the judge will do in the divorce decree.  

If the receiving spouse does not answer properly, the serving spouse may end up getting what’s called a “default” in which he or she may be granted everything requested in the petition.

The Minnesota Divorce Process

After this occurs the parties will engage in a series of legal appearances.  This may include: an Initial Case Management conference, temporary hearings, a pre-trial, and eventually a trial, if necessary.  These are interspersed with a series of negotiations and/or alternative dispute resolution sessions, like mediation or early neutral evaluations.  

In addition, different evaluative procedures may be used when there are disagreements . These include: early neutral evaluations, custody evaluations, or guardian ad litem evaluations.

Judges strongly favor the parties in a divorce settling their own cases. Settlement is often what’s best for the parties, both in terms of cost and time savings, and what’s best for the children.  Parents who are able to work together, both during and after the divorce, help their children’s adjustment to the divorce considerably compared to parents who are hostile and contentious.

At some point, either through settlement efforts or if necessary through a trial decision, a divorce judgment and decree will be created and signed off by the judge.  When the judgment and decree is filed the parties are officially divorced.

Post-Divorce Disputes

However, issues such as spousal maintenance, child custody and parenting time, and child support can still be re-litigated if necessary. These are “post-decree” disputes.  These involve making motions to the court for relief and, if needed, going before a judge to argue the disputed issues.  There are formal procedures for this as well.

The completion of the divorce process does not necessarily end litigation between the divorcing couple.  Just as during the divorce itself, judges prefer if the parties can settle these post-decree issues among themselves, but if they cannot, a judge will make a ruling on the issues.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.