WFJ Presents: Minnesota Divorce Basics

If you’re contemplating getting divorced, the process can seem overwhelming. There are a few basic things to know about filing for divorce in Minnesota:

1.  Residency requirement. In order to file for divorce in Minnesota, you need to have lived in Minnesota for at least 180 days prior to filing.

2.  Fees and Costs. The court charges a filing fee for a divorce. In Minnesota, that cost is generally around $400.00, but can vary a bit from county to county. To find information on the exact filing fees charged in your county, contact court administration. If you lack the ability to pay the filing fee and meet certain income requirements or are a recipient of public assistance, you may qualify to have the filing fee waived. There are special forms available from the court that can be used to apply for the fee waiver. A fee waiver must be approved by a judge and if it is not approved, you will be responsible for paying any filing fee associated with your case. In addition to the filing fee, there may be other costs associated with your divorce case, such as attorney’s fees and costs to have documents served on the other party.

3.  No-Fault Divorce. Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state. That means that the party initiating a divorce does not have to prove misconduct on the part of the other party. The only requirement is that there has been “an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship.” Essentially, that means that you no longer want to be married to the other person and that any attempts at reconciliation would not be successful. Because you are not required to establish fault in order to get divorced in Minnesota, the court will generally not consider a party’s misconduct during the marriage when deciding issues like custody, spousal maintenance and property division.

4.  Initiating Documents. In Minnesota, a contested divorce (one in which all of the issues are not agreed upon) begins with the service of a Summons and Petition upon the other party. There are specific rules about how these documents can be served. After the opposing party is served, the Summons and Petition can be filed with the court, along with an Affidavit of Service which establishes how, when, and where the other party was served. The party completing the Summons and Petition is referred to as the Petitioner in a divorce proceeding.

5.  Responsive Documents. If a party served with a Summons and Petition disagrees with the information contained in the petition or the Petitioner’s requests for relief from the court, that person, called the Respondent, can serve and file an Answer and Counter Petition. The Answer is a document which allows you to agree or disagree with the facts contained in the Petition. The Counter Petition allows the Respondent to present the facts and request relief from the court. Once the Respondent is served with the Summons and Petition they have only 30 days to provide an Answer and Counter Petition. It’s important to keep this deadline in mind if you are served with a Summons and Petition.

Divorce in Minnesota can be an incredibly complex matter and touches on nearly every aspect of your life. This post is designed to provide basic information regarding the divorce process and to help answer some of the most common questions about how to get started with the divorce process. In the event you are contemplating a divorce, consult with a family law attorney to find out how to best protect your rights and plan for the future.

 Attorney Angela R. Anderson