How to get a Divorce in Minnesota: Starting
Any spouse can get a divorce in Minnesota. Minnesota is a “no fault” divorce state. In this state, a spouse does not have to claim the other did anything wrong, like commit adultery or abuse, to be granted a divorce.
A divorce starts with two legal documents. The summons and petition, are drafted by one spouse and served on the other (Minn. Stat. 518.09). The divorce starts when these documents are served.
The summons is a notice that a divorce has started. In addition, it includes rules that each spouse must follow during the divorce.
The petition includes two parts. First, the first spouse states his or her facts about the marriage. Second, he or she states what he or she wants the judge to do. For example, the spouse may ask for sole custody of a child.
After this, the other spouse files and serves an “answer”, another legal document. First, the other spouse responds to both the first spouse’s facts and requests. Second, he or she states his or her own facts and requests.
If the other spouse doesn’t file and serve an answer, the judge may grant all of the first spouse’s requests. This is known as a “default”. The other spouse can’t stop the divorce by not responding. If one spouse wants a divorce in Minnesota, it will eventually be granted.
The Minnesota Divorce Process
After service, the parties may have a series of court appearances. This includes: an Initial Case Management conference, temporary hearings, a pre-trial, and eventually a trial, if necessary.
The court appearances are interspersed with negotiation and/or alternative dispute resolution sessions, like mediation or early neutral evaluations. These processes give the spouses multiple chances to settle the divorce.
In addition, spouses may need different evaluative procedures when there are disagreements. For example, they may use early neutral evaluations, custody evaluations, or guardian ad litem evaluations.
Judges strongly favor divorcing couples settling their own cases. Settlement saves time and legal costs. Also, settling is often what’s best for the children. Parents who work together, both during and after the divorce, help their children’s adjustment to the divorce considerably.
At some point, either through settlement or a trial, a judge issues a divorce judgment and decree. Each spouse has gotten a divorce at that time.
However, a divorce doesn’t always end disputes between ex-spouses. Spousal maintenance, parenting time, and child support can be argued later if circumstances change. These are “post-decree” disputes. In these cases, the decree typically requires parties attend mediation first. If that fails, the parties may motion to the court for relief.
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.