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Minnesota Divorce Laws

Most couples enter into marriage with the best of intentions, but things don't always work out. If you’re considering divorce, you should understand Minnesota divorce law.

The divorce laws in Minnesota govern all aspects of your divorce. They dictate how the divorce process works and control things like residency requirements, waiting periods, and grounds for divorce.

Here, we will provide a brief overview of Minnesota divorce law. We will also highlight the critical divorce statutes. If you still have questions about child custody, child support, and alimony, contact an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney.

Minnesota Divorce Laws: At a Glance

To get a divorce in Minnesota, state law requires that at least one of the parties be a state resident. Either you or your spouse must live in-state for at least 180 days to file for a dissolution of marriage. The good news is that there’s no waiting period. The courts will start divorce proceedings once your spouse has a chance to respond to your complaint and summons.

Even if you haven’t lived in Minnesota for the requisite six months, there's a chance you can file for divorce. Non-resident parties may get divorced in Minnesota if the civil marriage took place in-state and their current state of residence does not recognize the marriage because of sexual orientation.

Given the U.S. Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, this provision is likely obsolete.

The only grounds for divorce or separation in Minnesota is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. All divorces in Minnesota are of the no-fault variety. In addition, the state does not recognize any defenses to divorce or separation.

Legal Separation in Minnesota

The Minnesota courts recognize legal separation. A legal separation is different from an informal separation. When you legally separate, the judge will issue a lawful order.

An order for separation is not the same as a divorce decree. It doesn’t end the marriage. The order states that you and your spouse have chosen to take a legally sanctioned break from each other.

Minnesota Statute § 518.06 governs legal separation. You can submit a separation agreement to the court for approval when you file for separation. This agreement has the same effect as a marital settlement agreement. If either party deviates from the terms of the agreement, the other can file a motion to enforce it.

Some of the issues you’ll include in your separation agreement include:

Another significant difference between a legal separation and dissolution of marriage is that nothing is final. Most couples don’t go so far as to divide or sell off real estate upon filing for a legal separation. The same is true for things like retirement accounts and pensions.

The only property division most people include in a separation agreement is bank accounts. Some may include personal property such as vehicles.

The family court judge will determine child support using the child support guidelines. This is the same way they do it for a divorce.

Minnesota Divorce Laws Overview

The following table highlights some of the main provisions of Minnesota's divorce laws. To learn more, see FindLaw's Divorce section.

Minnesota Divorce Code Section

 § 518, et seq. of the Minnesota Statutes

Residency Requirements

One party must have resided in the state or been a domiciliary for 180 days before filing

Waiting Period

The court will not finalize for at least 31 days after service of process to give the respondent due process time to answer. The respondent has 30 days after being served to file an Answer to the divorce.

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce

Irretrievable breakdown

Defenses to a Divorce Filing

All abolished by § 518.06

Other Grounds for Divorce

Minnesota is a no-fault state, so it's not required to provide grounds for divorce. If you wish a fault divorce, some of the grounds include:
  • Adultery
  • Desertion/Abandonment
  • Impotence
  • Incarceration
  • Physical or Emotional Abuse
  • Addiction/Substance Abuse

Getting Divorced in Minnesota? An Attorney Can Help

Most people going through a divorce feel that it’s an emotional drain and not an easy process. It can be even worse if your marriage involves domestic violence or domestic abuse. Divorce cases can also become complex when each spouse owns non-marital (separate) property.

Proving that you brought valuable assets into the marriage can be difficult. Your spouse may claim that the two of you acquired the asset during the marriage.

The best way to ensure you get a fair shake in your divorce case is to seek legal advice from a Minnesota divorce lawyer who can guide you through the process.

Contact an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney today.

Note: State laws are subject to change through new legislation, higher court rulings, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information, please consult an attorney or conduct legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Minnesota Divorce Laws: Related Resources

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