Minnesota divorce details
Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Minnesota
Arranging your dissolution of marriage, there are two main ways how to do it - to contest the divorce case or not.
A Contested divorce leads to several (more often, numerous) court hearings, heated debates, mutual blaming, and huge extra expenses for attorneys fees. Each party wants to get more than the other or tries protect themselves, and everybody is eager to win.
In opposite, an Uncontested divorce implies that both spouses are agreed in their desire to get a divorce. So, they are more or less ready to cooperate in order to receive the Certificate of Dissolution as soon as possible. An uncontested divorce has the only final hearing, so it takes much less time and money.
Uncontested Divorce in Minnesota
Uncontested dissolution of marriage in Minnesota is quite an easy procedure if you’re well prepared.
The main you should notice that both you and your spouse should want to get a divorce. Under an uncontested divorce rules, you should independently, without the Judge order, make a Settlement Agreement that regulates all the most important terms of your case. In order to reach an agreement on such issues as property division, spousal and child support etc you should communicate a lot.
Minnesota law welcomes an uncontested divorce option, so there is a recommendation that all the divorcing couples should attend mediation sessions to resolve all the misunderstandings and avoid a trial if possible.
Grounds for Divorce in Minnesota
Speaking of the grounds for dissolution, Minnesota is a pure "no-fault state". This means that the misconduct of your partner cannot affect a divorce result or give you some benefits.
Filing for divorce you should state the ground, but the ground is the same for everyone - it sounds like “irretrievable breakdown”, without any details. An evidence of the breakdown is that the spouses live separate for at least 180 days, and/or there is a serious marital conflict recognized by both parties, and either spouse doesn’t see any sence or possibility of reconciliation.
Minnesota Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
In order the Minnesota District Court had a jurisdiction over the dissolution case, the couple must meet one of the following residency requirements:
- At least one of the spouses resides in Minnesota or has a state domicile for 180 days or more at the time of filing the Petition.
- At least one of the spouses is a military member stationed in Minnesota with the armed service for 180 days or more at the time of filing the Petition.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, you can get an uncontested divorce in two ways - both filing the sole and joint Petition for dissolution.
Filing a joint petition is also called “Summary dissolution”. This means that both spouses file the Petition together, so there is no need to wait for the partner’s response. This type of uncontested divorce takes even less time, but it is appropriate only for those couples who was married less than 8 years, have not common children of the marriage (and the wife is not pregnant by the time of filing) and lots of assets (less than $25000).
Those who are not qualified for Summary dissolution should make the following steps:
- File a Petition for dissolution in a proper District Court. Fill out the other forms for your case. Make copies of the Petition and the Summons.
- Serve your spouse with these copies.
- Your partner has 30 days to file an Answer, wait for it. You can use this time to jointly work on the Settlement Agreement or prepare it in advance before filing.
- Once the response is received you may submit all the completed paperwork to the court. As there is no waiting period in Minnesota, the proceeding can start immediately, the court begins to consider your case. The divorce can be granted within a couple of months.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Minnesota
Do-it-yourself divorce is a term for divorce process arranged by the spouses independently. You really can file for divorce without an attorney, surely, if you can reasonably estimate the complexity of your case.
For example, if you file for Summary dissolution you likely are in touch with your spouse and both aimed to get a quick divorce, so DIY divorce shouldn’t be hard for you. However, the correct filling of forms is still very important the same as detailed Agreement, so if you have some questions you may use an online-support or entrust the preparation of your documents to an online divorce company such as ours.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
The cost of uncontested divorce starts with about $400 of the filing fee in Minnesota. Additional expenses may include mediators' fees, which can be approximately $2000 per case. If you pay for a lawyer for legal drafting it may cost another $1500, and the help of our document-preparation service cost $149. In other words, the cost of your dissolution may vary considerably depending on your circumstances and services you hire.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, it is possible to get an uncontested divorce in a pretty short term, especially if the spouses file for Dissolution as co-petitioners. The Summary dissolution typically takes between 30 and 60 days.
An average usual uncontested divorce (when one spouse is a Petitioner and the other is a Respondent) can take a couple months.
Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Minnesota
Here are the main (basic) forms you need to fill out for uncontested divorce in Minnesota. Notice, that depending on your case (whether you want to request a default judgment, or one of you is a military member and so on) you may need some additional papers.
For divorce without children:
- DIV402Petition for Dissolution without Children
- DIV406Stipulated Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment, Judgment and Decree
- DIV407Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment and Judgment and Decree
- DIV409Affidavit of Service
- DIV812Notice of Intent to Proceed to Judgment
For divorce case if children are involved:
- DIV802Petition for Divorce with Children
- DIV803Combined Summons
- DIV806Stipulated Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment, Judgment and Decree
- DIV807Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment and Judgment and Decree
- DIV812Notice of Intent to Proceed to Judgment
- DIV813Notice to Public Authority
- DIV814Affidavit of Service
How to Serve Your Spouse in Minnesota
Filing as a sole petitioner it’s your duty to properly serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork - to inform him/her about the case so that he/she could respond the Petition. Your partner must be served personally, but you are not allowed to do it by yourself.
There are two ways how to deliver these forms In Minnesota:
- You can ask any person over 18 years you can trust to hand the envelope directly to your spouse.
- You can order the personal service by the Sheriff.
Online Divorce in Minnesota
To finalize divorce in Minnesota you can’t do without at least one visit to the court. But all the previous part (no less important) can be managed without attending a clerk’s office.
You can use our service to prepare your divorce documentation online - accurately and quickly. Just for $149 you can download a completed paperwork kit based upon the data you provide in the short online interview. No need to bother or to dig into state laws and county divorce rules - we guarantee the court approval of your documents.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Minnesota
In Minnesota, it is assumed that both parents try to contribute to the well-being of their child regardless of who is a custodian and that the child should have the same standard of living as prior to the divorce. In order to calculate this amount of a child support more precisely, there is an "income shares formula", that takes into account the income and the earning capacity of both spouses’.
As for custody, it can be physical and legal. Physical custody determines with whom the children live and/or spend a significant amount of time, and who makes everyday decisions in children’s life. Legal custody refers to bigger choices or decisions that can seriously affect the children’s conditions and upbringing process. Both physical and legal custody may be shared between parents (joint physical/legal custody) or be granted to either parent (sole custody) and the other parent should use his/her parenting time (visitation right).
There are no gender preferences, and the law assumes that the constant presence of both parents in a children’s life is in their best interests, unless some exceptions, of course. The custody issue is considered by the court individually for each case, taking into account many factors and parents characteristics. Also, in Minnesota, if the children spend more than 10% of their time with a non-custodial parent, the child support obligation of this parent may be lowered.
Rules for Spousal Support in Minnesota
In Minnesota, either spouse doesn't have to be unemployed to try to receive a spousal support (alimony). For each case the court must consider a lot of aspects like earning ability of both parties, their contribution to the family welfare, length of the marriage, health and financial condition of the spouses and so on. There is no some special formula to calculate an amount of a spousal support, so it is a very individual question.
Generally, there are three types of a spousal support that may be awarded in Minnesota:
- Temporary support. This maintenance is typically granted for the fixed period of time while the divorce is in process.
- Short-term support. This support is also paid for a limited time in order to give the spouse who needs it an opportunity to achieve some professional, earning skills to become self-sufficient and be able to earn more.
- Long-term maintenance (sometimes, even permanent). This alimony may be ordered in the case of a long marriage (10 years and more), or when there are convincing reasons why the requesting spouse cannot support themselves.
Division of Property in Minnesota
Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, so all the marital property must be divided by the court in an “equitable” and just way. This is not mean “equal” (as in community property states), and the ratio may vary greatly according to the certain divorce case. The court must carefully consider all the important issues that can affect the result (by the way, the spouse’s misconduct can influence only the custody & visitation decision not the property division) in order to divide a marital property. Also, the spouses can resolve this issue independently, making a Settlement Agreement.
The whole property earned and acquired during the married life is considered to be the marital property - even if some real estate, account or something else is solely in the one spouse’s name.
The separate property, namely, all that the spouses had prior to marriage plus personal gifts and inheritances to each of them, is not a subject to division.
Division of Debt in Minnesota
The debts are part of the property according to the Minnesota law, so they should be divided equitably as a property is. The main task is to determine which debts are separate and which are marital, but the principal is the same as with property.
However, Minnesota judges have a big power in making decisions about how to split the debt, so they can claim that the only party must pay the whole debt collected during the marriage if this party is really responsible for its emergence.
Divorce Mediation in Minnesota
Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution, which helps the divorcing spouses to make a successful Settlement Agreement that works for each party. In Minnesota, the mediation is ordered to all couples unless there is some abusing or cruelty in their family history. It’s not surprising that mediation deserved such trust because it really has a lot of advantages.
Meeting at the session, the spouses negotiate about how it’s better to resolve property, custody, spousal and child support issues, and all the dispute is guided by the qualified mediator. He/she is a neutral party, who has a good background both of psychological and legal aspects of the divorce, but it is not allowed for a mediator to order something or to take sides. It happens that even those spouses who initially wanted to contest their case can do without a trial after several mediation sessions. In addition, the divorce mediation helps to save money, and it is definitely better for your children if you have any.
How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Minnesota
If you don’t know where your spouse resides now, and cannot contact him/her, nevertheless, you still may get a divorce.
Though the serving your spouse with a divorce paperwork is an essential part of filing for divorce, there is an alternative method for missing spouse - so-called Divorce by Publication.
- First, you should try really hard to locate your spouse and provide the court with the evidence of your diligent efforts with the Affidavit of Diligent Search form.
- Then, the court may order to send the Summons and the Petition by first class mail to any address at which respondent may receive notice of the proceeding, including relatives or to last known address. If there is no data about any suitable address you may be ordered to publish a notice about your divorce case in a legal newspaper (in the county where your spouse is likely to reside).
- 21 days later the missing spouse is considered to be “served by publication”.
- After another 30 days which he/she officially has in order to file the Answer, the divorce can be granted by default i.e. without participation of the missing spouse.
It is assumed that the spouse was given enough chances to answer and to put forward their terms.
Default Divorce in Minnesota
In Minnesota, there are few circumstances under which is possible to finalize a divorce without any participation of one of the spouses. Mentioned above situation of the missing spouse is one of them.
Such a divorce can be called a default divorce. This means that nothing is discussing between the spouses, and only the divorce initiator (the Petitioner) represents their interests before the court.
The default divorce can be also granted when, being successfully served with the forms, one of the parties exceed the 30 days time-limit and fails to give an answer within this period or just refuses to respond.
And the third circumstance is if the party is served and gives an answer and makes a court appearance but this answer is unacceptable and inappropriate according to the initial issues included in the Petition.
Annulment of the Marriage in Minnesota
An annulment is one more way to end the marriage, but it has one significant feature. An annulment terminates not the legal marriage (as divorce does it) but initially void marriage that never existed in the eyes of the law.
In opposite to divorce, you can not file for annulment just because you want it.
In Minnesota, there are 6 clear reasons why you may ask the court to declare your marriage invalid:
- Incest (related by blood or adoption).
- Mental incapacity or alcohol/drug influence at the time the marriage was registered.
- Consent to the marriage obtained by fraud or duress.
- A hidden fact of an impotence.
- Underage marriage without parents consent.
Legal Separation in Minnesota
Legal Separation is a procedure that is very similar to divorce. It takes as much time, efforts, and money as during the divorce proceeding. Property and debt division, custody and support - all of these aspects should be regulated similarly to how it is done in divorce. So what is the difference?
Unlike a divorce, after all that procedures, the Legal separation still does not end the marriage. The spouses separate their lives on all possible levels but officially remain married. They are not allowed to remarry and, for example, the wife cannot use her maiden name.
If after a certain time of being separated the spouses want to get a divorce they have to go through the court process but the main work is already done.
People choose a Legal separation for different reasons, from religious views to financial and insurance causes, but it isn’t a very common action.
Same-Sex Divorce in Minnesota
Same-sex marriage, along with same-sex divorce, was recognized in the state of Minnesota since 2013, two year before the landmark decision of the Supreme Court.
Nowadays, all the spouses are equal in the eyes of the law regardless of gender, so all the citizens can file for any legal procedures provided by the judicial branch of a certain state.
The difficulties with which same-sex couples can still face are related to how long they had not an opportunity to enter into a legal marriage. Those who lived as a married couple for a long time before the legal marriage may have a lot of "marital" property, that cannot be properly defined due to the later date of an official marriage. In such a case, a mediation may be the best option.
Military Divorce in Minnesota
In Minnesota, as elsewhere in the US, all the military members are protected from the default divorce judgment by the federal law. Though they still have to be personally served with a divorce paperwork as all the defendants, under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, 50 UCS section 521 they have more time to respond. The divorce proceeding may be postponed for the entire period an active military member is on duty and another 60 days after that.
As for property division, the military retirement payments are also protected. They can be distributed only if the marriage had lasted 10 years or more while the military spouse has been on active duty.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Minnesota
If you want to divorce an incarcerated spouse the divorce papers can be served on him in prison. If you make a well-drafted Petition, he/she may not answer at all, and the divorce can be granted by default. Another case, if the inmate spouse wants to contest the divorce. There are a lot of qualified attorneys who represent prisoners, so then you also will not be able to do without a lawyer.
Minnesota Divorce Filing Fee
A filing fee is an initial payment which is charged for the court services at the time you file the Petition for dissolution of marriage in the Court Clerk's office. Minnesota has one of the highest filing fees in the rate of US. Minnesota filing fee may vary by the county between $300 and $420.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
A filing fee can be waived in Minnesota dissolution case, but you should meet some requirements to request a fee waiver:
- your income is at or below 125% of the Federal poverty level;
- you receive public assistance;
- or - you can convince the court of your insolvency in some other way.
In order to waive the fee, you must file an Affidavit for In Forma Pauperis form, also known as IFP in Minnesota, and provide the court with all the details of your financial circumstances.
How We Can Help
We want to show you that divorce can be an accessible and pretty easy process.
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You only need to sign the documents and submit them with the court. And we can guarantee that our forms are approved by the Minnesota District Courts.
Please contact our online assistance to learn more. Start your calm and clear dissolution within one day.
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