Divorce in Minnesota: How Do We Get this Started?

Getting divorced in Minnesota can be a much more complicated process than getting married and there are many different steps you must take. It is beneficial for both spouses to be represented by a qualified attorney throughout the divorce process, and your lawyer can help you to get your divorce started.


To get your divorce started, first make sure you are eligible to get divorced in the state of Minnesota. You are eligible to get a divorce in Minnesota if you or your spouse has lived in the state for a period of at least 180 days prior to filing for the divorce. If neither of you has lived there that long, you’ll have to wait until you establish residency or pursue a divorce in the state where you are currently a resident.

If you are eligible to get divorced, then one spouse must start the process by writing a Summons and Petition. These are specific court documents in which you need to provide information about both husband and wife and in which you must specify the reason for divorce (in the state today, divorces are almost always no fault divorces based on irreconcilable differences).  Your attorney can help you to complete the correct paperwork and ensure that you have filed for divorce properly so you do not experience any delays in moving forward with dissolving your marriage.

When filing the petition, the fastest and simplest way to get a divorce is to file a joint petition for divorce. This is an option when the parties agree on all of the issues relevant to the divorce, including division of custody, division of assets and any requirements related to support.   If you need to litigate issues and cannot agree or if one party does not want the divorce, then a joint petition is not possible and your divorce is likely to take longer as it moves through the family court system.

In cases where one spouse has filed the Summons and Petition, the next step in the process is serving the court paperwork on the other spouse.  There is an official process for how the documents must be served in order to insure that the recipient spouse actually gets the divorce papers.   The recipient spouse then needs to file an answer and the divorce moves on to the pre-trial and trial phase.

In a litigate divorce, both sides may ask the court to issue specific rulings prior to the official divorce hearing. For example, the judge may be asked to issue an order related to temporary custody or to order one of the spouses to turn over financial documents and information.  These pre-trial issues are resolved as both parties prepare for their divorce hearing.  A couple with kids who is divorcing are also required to attend a certified divorce education program if they do not agree on custody outside of court.

After the pre-trial phase, the judge will then hear arguments from each spouse and will make decisions on contested issues. Finally, the divorce agreement will become final and binding on both parties and the judge will dissolve the marriage.

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